Men’s 3rd Grade v Northern Districts – 2 April 2022 at Cintra Park

Result: Glebe 6 (2 minutes, 14 minutes, 27 minutes, 41 minutes, 51 minutes, 59 minutes) defeated Northern Districts 0

Half-time: Glebe 3 – Northern Districts 0

Penalty corners: Glebe 3 (one goal), Northern Districts 0

Scorers: Michael Wark 3 Tony Wark 2, Brad Goodrich 1.

Glebe players: Chris Farrugia, Sam Bagley, Adam Campano, Tony Wark, Paul Jowett, Clark Foster (GK), Michael Wark, Simon Wark, Andrew Cheong, Pat Wark, Jackson Howe, Cameron Johnston, , Brad Goodridge and Sid (Siddharth) Roach.

Unavailable players: Lachlan Hall, Jacob Warnock (broken bone in hand)

Pre-match prediction: Last week we were narrowly beaten by Manly 4-3 and Northern Districts were beaten 18-0 by Ryde. On the back of these results, we should win this game comfortably. Glebe third grade does have the knack of grasping defeat out of the jaws of victory. In last year’s fixture Northern District’s beat Glebe 3-1 in a game we should have won 5-0. I’m hopeful history will not repeat itself.

Match Report

Today’s team has been strengthened by the return of third grade regulars Andrew Cheong and Pat Wark. Joining us from fourth grade was Brad Goodrich and Sid Roach a new player from Queensland.

It was an overcast day, with a soft breeze and an air temperature of  190C. Glebe got off to a good start, scoring after two minutes with a well worked team goal that started deep inside the Glebe half, on the right-hand side of the field. The ball was quickly transferred between six players, spreading the ND defence, before Tony Wark pushed the ball past the keeper from five metres out. Glebe 1, ND 0.

Glebe had 65% of the territory in the first quarter, but found it difficult to organize many good scoring opportunities. ND packed the centre of the field and Glebe were not playing the ball wide enough nor early enough to outflank the ND defence. The speed of delivery of the ball from the fullbacks and halves to the forwards was too slow, which gave the ND defence too much time to regroup, reorganize and choke off what initially looked like very promising Glebe opportunities.

After eleven minutes Pat Wark at centre-half played the firm, wide ball to Michael Wark deep in attack, in the left-wing position on the sideline. Michael quickly crossed the ball to the seven-metre spot for Tony Wark to deflect the ball past the ND goal keeper, Glebe 2 ND 0. In the last ten minutes of the first quarter Glebe seemed to pass the ball around the back for the sake of passing, without creating any gaps in the ND defence. What was needed was a defender with the ball, who was not challenged, to advance with the ball, pull a defender forward, break-up the ND forwards defensive formation and then pass the ball to a Glebe player further up-field, and preferably out wide.

There was a lot of energy in the Glebe team with Simon Wark, Sid Roach, Andrew Cheong and Paul Jowett covering a lot of territory in mid-field as the ball was quickly moving from end to end. A crash ball struck powerfully from the 20-30 metres out straight at the goal-keeper or to a player on the backline five metres to the side of the goal was an option we did not use enough. This option would have provided a bit more variety to our attack.

It was free flowing, energy sapping, open first quarter.

The team looked dangerous when the ball went wide and we became bogged down when our attack was narrow. The first quarter was an open, end to end type game, with a lot of running up and back to test the players fitness levels. The sore at the end of the first quarter was Glebe 2, ND 0

Second quarter

Glebe had 65% of the territory in this quarter, plenty of good scoring opportunities, but the finishing in the attacking circle was poor. The defence was not often put under pressure, but on the odd occasion a ND forward would receive a long ball behind our fullbacks who had drifted too high. On one such occasion goalkeeper Clark Foster was left with a one-on-one situation. I though Clark  left his goal a fraction too early, but he met the ND forward at the top of the circle and pushed the ND forward wide to the right. The ND’s forward’s shot from a poor angle went wide. This was ND’s best chance of the game.

Ten minutes into the second quarter Paul Jowett, standing a few metres inside Glebe’s defending half and 15 metres from the right-hand sideline, received a quick ball from the defence. Paul sensed that Michael Wark was free and he delivered a perfect pass to Michael Wark, who fired home a powerfully struck tomahawk shot. Glebe 3, ND 0. After this goal I thought that Glebe was in a comfortable position and unless the sky fell in, it would  to win the game.

In the middle minutes of the second quarter Glebe had six or seven shots on the ND goal, all of which missed the goal. Our shooting in today’s game was poor, but fortunately we scored enough goals to win comfortably. Sam Bagley and Cameron Johnson, our wing-halves both had solid games. Their positional play was excellent, and they were hard for the ND forwards to get past. Fullbacks Chris Farrugia and Adam Campano were solid and consistent. Chris collided with Sid Roach in heading towards a loose ball and saw stars for a few minutes. It is hard to keep Chris down and he was back better than ever after a 5 minutes rest.

Very occasionally ND would create a shot at goal, but Clark Foster comfortably saw them off. One ND attack resulted in the ball travelling three metres out from the Glebe goal, but a ND forward missed a relatively easy deflection. This was a let-off for Glebe. Pat Wark was a dominant figure at centre-half, he tackled well and his early, wide distribution often turned defence into attack.

One of our obvious fallings in today’s game was that we did not advance towards the opposition ball carrier early to make the tackle. We let them run far too often, and tended to retreat and fall back, when advancing with the stick out to defend the legs was the required strategy. Tackle early, tackle often and if beaten recover quickly into a position to tackle again should be the aim. The score at the end of the second quarter was Glebe 3, ND 0.

Third Quarter

In the third quarter Glebe created countless scoring opportunities in front of goal, without being able to convert excellent scoring positions into goals. The ND goalkeeper made some good saves, but the majority of the Glebe shots missed the goal, or a scoreable deflection was muffed.  A bit more circle craft training of a Tuesday night training is required to improve this deficiency in our game. Against the better teams in the third-grade, competition scoring opportunities will be much harder to come-by than they were today and we cannot afford to squander our excellent goal-scoring opportunities.

Brad Goodrich tackled well, hit the ball well and covered the fullback and centre-half positions. I think Brad enjoyed playing with the third-grade team today. He first played with some of the players in the team over twenty-five years ago. Given the right circumstances, the long-driven ball from Chris Farrugia up to a high striker looked very effective. This tactic often opened up the ND defence, provided us with excellent scoring opportunities, and is a tactic which we most definitely should keep in our kit-bag.

Our ball trapping today was below the required standard and it let us down at crucial moments. There were too many edges, deflections, balls bouncing forwards out of control and complete misses. It is only early in the season, hopefully we will get better on this front. Sid Roach was throwing some early, well directed, powerful passes in this quarter, which kept the Glebe momentum going. With three minutes to go in the third quarter Glebe were awarded its first penalty corner. The corner was well executed and Brad Goodrich hammered home a direct shot that hit the top of the backboard. Glebe 4, ND 0.

ND rallied for the last five minutes of the third quarter and started to gain a bit more territory. The Glebe players, sensing they had the game in the bag, eased-off just a fraction. With four minutes remaining in the third quarter Sam Bagley dispossessed a ND forward, send a beautiful ball up the right-hand sideline to Tony Wark, and then to Michael Wark unmarked 15 minutes out from the circle. Michael navigated his way around the ND goal-keeper and a couple of rapidly converging ND defenders to tomahawk the ball into the ND net. Glebe 5, ND 0, which was the score at the end of the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter

ND had the ability to make the quick break, but never really put any sustained pressure on the Glebe defence. The Glebe mid-field tackled well and were always hard to get past. Break-outs looked to be ND’s only goal-scoring avenue. Glebe was still coasting in the first five minutes of the final quarter and this allowed ND to gain more field position. They had a few quickly taken shots at the Glebe goal, which were well saved by Clark Foster. Clark did not have much to do today, but what he did he did well and with confidence. He reads a game well. With six minutes to go Chris Farrugia hit a 50-metre pass to Tony Wark ten metres inside the ND half on the right-hand sideline. The ball was transferred quickly to Michael Wark 10 metres outside the ND circle. Michael threaded his way through a few defenders and the ND goalkeeper to finally push the ball into the ND goal, Glebe 6, ND, 0.

In the last six minutes of the game Glebe were awarded two penalty corners, with the push-out and trap not well executed and no shots on goal resulted. The final five minutes saw Glebe have eight or nine shots at goal, some good chances, some half-chances, all of which failed to find the back of the ND goal-net. One shot at goal hit the cross bar and bounced out. With the game in the bag, our ineptitude in front of gaol was of no consequence. The final score was Glebe 6, ND 0.

I wonder how many clean sheets the team will have in 2022? Last year we had one of the worst defensive records in the third-grade competition and I can’t remember any game in which we had a clean sheet.

Congratulations team on your first win of the 2022 season.