Round 14 : 21st July : v Gosford City     (H)  (6-1 WIN)
A brilliant result for us today and a good example of why we need to keep plugging away for the whole game!! I was stuck at work today but Garrett’s dad, Andrew was able to take the reins and look after the team. No Alex, little Zac or Dylan available but still a couple of subs to rotate through. The game got off to an exciting start when Blake kicked off and passed it back to Connor who put a through ball up in the box that Garrett kicked into the keepers face!! It was all quick and very close to a goal within the first 10 sec. That seemed to give the team an immediate injection boost of confidence and they played some beautiful football for quite a while. Good passing most of the time. Some first touches in the first part of the game weren’t great but improved as time went on. Both teams had a few opportunities but with just under 10 mins to go to the break it was the Emus who finally took the lead. Garrett had pretty well just run on from a stint on the interchange and was passed the ball which he offloaded to Bregan who hit a beautiful volley – GOAL!  The Dragons were able to knock one in just before half time though to level it up again so we went into the sheds at 1 all but could have been about 4-1 our way.

Half time talk focused on congratulating the players on their passing, or at least attempting to pass, to each other. They were asked to focus on continuing to do that, settle when in front of goal and more goals should come. How true those words were. The second half was similar to the first with both teams unable to finish off and then also like the first half, Garrett did it again when he’d only returned to the field for a short time before setting up Bregan again for our second!  This then opened things up and big Zach made a great run before offloading to Blake and it ended up with that man Bregan again to slot in goal number 3 for him and the team. By this stage Riley was hungry for a goal and a bit of perseverance enabled him to get our fourth and effectively kill off any Gosford chance of coming back. Bregan’s fourth (the team’s 5th) was a header that was text book from Thursday night’s training, same side and running in, slotted straight past the keeper and in the dying moments Michael  managed to bag the team’s 6th goal. All in all a very good result, not only in the way we went about it but also keeping the pressure on to score a good amount of goals and help the goal difference. This was also 3 wins on the trot for the first time this season so we’re on a positive roll at the moment and need to keep that momentum up to work hard and get another result next week up the Mountains. Top spot is well and truly up for grabs with any of the top four teams in with a shot at it. Todays win was vital too as it has all but sealed our place in the Finals as Gosford would need to win all their remaining 4 games while we would need to lose all of ours for them to overtake us now. Well done lads… no slacking off now. If anything we need to ramp up the intensity even more in the run home. Everyone is effectively stating their case in the last few games for a Finals starting spot so these last 8 training sessions before the end of the regular season are very important.  

Round 13 : 7th July : v Wyoming     (H)  (2-1 WIN)
Was a bit nervous going into this game with the wind playing havoc and that fact we had 4 players suffering from sickness so all signs were indicating it was potentially going to be a tough day at the office. And so it looked once the game got underway. There’s no question Wyoming were the hungrier side in the first half. We huffed and puffed but in the possession stakes, our opponents were doing well. That said though, they didn’t really give stand in goalkeeper Connor much to worry about and defensively we were strong once again. We were lucky though in that we managed to go to the break 1-0 up courtesy of a nicely taken Blake goal with only a few mins remaining of the half . Captain courageous Alex had taken control of a ball in our defensive third and played a superb pass through the right channel towards Bregan who just managed to get a touch in front of a defender that played the ball forward and to the left of the Wyoming box. Blake was hammering down on the ball and just got there in front of the oncoming keeper and the ball bounced out nicely for him to be left with an easy pass into the empty net. Probably a little lucky to be ahead but we went out for the second period with a bit more determination. Unfortunately the one time we switched off a little in the second half Wyoming managed to score! We were guilty of ball watching and Wyoming were allowed too much time and space to get a shot away that ran across goal and beyond Connor’s reach into the far bottom corner. Having only managed 2 draws to this point Wyoming were obviously excited and pushed hard to get their first win of the season. As the game drew to a close it appeared we would get a draw out of this one and nothing more despite a few good efforts, one from Bregan especially… a sizzling shot from about 25m out that happened to go straight at the keeper.  But we were to be successful after all with a goal that proves that old saying that you need to keep going for the entire game. Garrett did really well on our left flank to win back the ball that had been bouncing about. His forward pass found Blake in a bit of space and from our point of view, on the good side of the defender. He kept calm and pushed forward and opened his body up really well before slotting the ball past the keeper low inside the near post. Wyoming were understandably distraught while us Emus were on the contrary, ecstatic!  There was 30 secs left on the clock 🙂  A sigh of relief at the final whistle as we secured back to back wins for the first time in a while and with other results we now sit only 3 points or 1 win away from the three teams above us who are all equal first!!  So in theory, as long as we win our remaining 5 games we should be a good shout for top 2 finish.  Got a weeks break due to school holidays so some intensive training to come so we keep this run going!!! 

Round 12 : 30th June : v Killarney     (A)  (3-0 WIN)
This was due to be our “good performance” week and sure enough, a comfortable 3-0 victory was recorded. To be honest I have no idea how Killarney are coming top of the table? With respect, they seem to have barely the numbers to field a team and it was obvious today that they had some U13’s or U14’s backing up given their size.  In saying that, we didn’t really deal with that last time we played and suffered a 2-0 loss so it was good to see the boys put in a solid effort on a difficult playing field. EDSACC #2 is small and a bit bumpy so no high quality passing game is able to be played in midfield and you have to be wary of the possible quick transition from defence to attack. Our usual formation was changed slightly to provide more pressure up front on the small park and I decided to run the subs through in shorter bursts this week which seemed to be more beneficial. Despite the younger kids, Killarney actually started fairly well but we also did ok and the first 15 mins of the match was end to end. Midway through the half we grabbed our opening goal after a really nice, patient build up on our left hand side where the ball eventually was moved out the the centre. A ball crossed in towards the back post found Blake charging in and his lunge got a touch to put the ball past the keeper. Less than 5 mins later and we got another one through a spectacular long range effort from Riley. The ball came into Dylans feet about 25m out and instead of playing the ball to the open left he took a risk to play back inside to Riley who’s chip went straight into top left corner! Great goal.

2-0 was to be the half time score but early in the second half Bregan continued his strong run of form this season in front of goal with a powerful drive from just inside the Killarney penalty area that the keeper had no chance of stopping. Dylan was again involved in the build up for this one along with Liam so good to see we are playing some good passes in order to create some chances. There were no more goals scored and we should mention Josh in goals who took care of everything that came near him today to record a deserved clean sheet. This was helped by our defensive players Jarrod, Alex, Jett and especially Spencer who had a terrific game this week. Very happy with the outcome and effort and performance today boys. Unfortunately we also had two unsavoury and unwanted incidents that did not shine our team or the club in a good light. The players involved have been spoken to and know their actions are disappointing so let’s hope there will be nothing like that again. 

Round 11 : 23rd June : v Kanwal     (H)  (0-2 LOSS)
Two poor goals conceded was the story of the day for us this week. An unlucky bounce hits Jett’s hand in the box for a penalty and then we were too slow to get in and clear the ball out of our 6 yard box giving them a tap in for the second. Both goals came in the first half so having tried almost every other type of approach from calm and collected to fairly firm, the frustration of again going from one good team performance to a poorer one was cause for something different to try and break the cycle. An almighty rocket was given at half time which seemed to wake a couple of the players into action and again, a much better second half was the result. Special mention to Zach Gorton this week who went in for some really strong tackles and won the ball every time! Unfortunately we couldn’t score though and the Kanwal first half goals were enough to keep their impressive run going. Positive to come from the day is that Gosford also got beaten so we remain in the top four and have a 4 point buffer so no panic stations yet in regards to making Finals. One thing to learn especially from this game is that as you guys are getting older, the “trash talk” and niggle from opposition will start to increase and this is something everyone has to learn to deal with. It’s not a pleasant side of the game and not something I believe in or condone but it’s a realistic one that happens almost every week in Senior football so the quicker you guys learn not to let it affect you, the better off you will be. 

Round 10 : 16th June : v Mountains     (H)  (4-1 WIN)
The rollercoaster ride that is the Emus U16 Boys continues this week with a fantastic effort once again. Two games ago we we played really well only to follow it up with a performance that was lacking a bit of steel. This week we’re back in the groove again which was great but as I’ve said before… we need to get the consistency into our game days. Hopefully this will be the norm and not just every second week because it was a really good display from the team and a well deserved win. Mountains had been gathering some notable results lately and wiggled their way to the top of the table so with ourselves not exactly in top form, the neutral would have probably bet on Mountains getting the biscuits. Sometimes I feel my pre-game motivational speeches aren’t getting through but today was definitely a different case with the boys getting stuck in from the start. We weren’t getting pushed off the ball and we were putting our bodies into challenges and making it hard for our visitors to settle. Connor was the only one out so four subs to juggle again but I think we found the right combination and timing as each player did their job well when they came on. 

One player that had a really good day was Bregan as he again got himself on the scoresheet after 12mins. Blake made the chance with a good run at the Mountains defence. The ball just ran away from him at the end but they only half cleared as far as Garrett who’s first time shot bounced up and in amongst a couple of defenders who still failed to deal with it and Bregan was on hand to volley home when it came his way. We deservedly doubled the lead through an own goal which was another brilliant example of why we shouldn’t give up chasing a ball down. Riley continued to run full pelt after the ball as it ran through towards their keeper on our left side and he managed to just get there before and knock the ball goal wards. By the time the covering defenders got to it the ball was virtually over the line and a desperate clearance only succeeded in whacking the ball into the inside of the net! Mountains pulled a goal back with the last kick of the first half when we gave up possession too easily on half way and they bundled the ball home after a bit of a goal mouth scramble.

Not really anything to complain about at half time so the boys were sent out to put in the exact same effort in the second half that they had in the first and again, about 12mins in we got a third goal. That man Bregan was involved again, getting a throw in on our left flank from Spencer and turning and running up the wing before slotting a low cross under pressure into the box. Blake arrived at the near post and met the cross just in front of his defender, chipping the ball up and past the keeper. And to top off a good day personally, Bregan got his second and our fourth with a cracking shot into the top corner although there were suspicions of possible offside about his run onto Dylans through ball? Great finish though!! Overall couldn’t be happier with the effort from everyone. The back four were tremendous again although little Zac went down with a hamstring injury early in the second half and spent the rest of the game on the sideline icing it. And right at the end, my man of the match for today Alex copped a knock on his shin from a late tackle after fearlessly going into the challenge to desperately clear the danger.  At first there were worries it could be a fractured leg but as we all headed home after the match it seemed to be a bit better so hopefully just a bit of bruising and a lump at worst. Well done today lads.. extremely pleased with the effort but other results haven’t been kind so we remain in a dogfight with the other three teams above us. Chance next week to jump up though as we take on Kanwal again but put that kind of performance together next week and we’ll do ok.

Round 9 : 2nd June : v Gosford City     (H)  (0-1 LOSS)
A lack of consistency is killing us at the moment. One week we look like the best team in the comp and the next week our level of commitment and performance drops to about 60-70% of how it was the previous game. Today we were beaten by a team who played smarter than us and were able to get control of the ball quicker than us. Our touch was again all over the place which was very frustrating because if we’d taken control of the ball and started passing like I know we can, we’d have created a heap of chances and won the game no doubt. Instead we allowed Gosford to play the ball about and get a soft goal that in the end was enough. That’s four games lost in the last five matches boys so obviously not good enough form if we are to consider ourselves a chance at finishing in the top two. In fact too many more games like this one and we’ll be scrambling just to make the Finals. Happy to see the mid season break where we can now take a deep breath and come back to make our assault on the second half of the competition. Hopefully we can find that grit and determination we displayed in the first few games of the season.

Round 8 : 26th May : v Wyoming     (H)  (3-1 WIN)
A great response this week from the team after a couple of poor performances and efforts really. It was one of those weeks where we had everyone available so we had 5 subs to juggle but a plan was hatched in how we were going to manage that and it all seemed to work out well for us. A lot of that had to do with the much improved attitude of the players I must say who to a man turned up ready to give it their best shot. We had the better of the first half and played some nice stuff, looking to keep the ball on the ground and play passes to feet whenever possible. The only thing we lacked at the end of the first period was a goal. So for once there wasn’t a lot to say at in the half time team talk as each player was doing his job and I felt if we kept that up it would only be a matter of time before we scored. The only scare we had came just before the half time whistle when Garrett was on a run up the right flank and cut inside his opponent. In doing so he collided with the Wyoming player and ended up getting a whack in the mouth and chipping a bit of his tooth! In true Emus fashion he soldiered on though and it only took a couple of minutes into the second half for us to get on the scoresheet. It came from the penalty spot when the ref spotted a handball in the Wyoming box and Blake stepped up to dispense the spot kick easily past the keeper. Goal number two arrived midway through the half and was a great example of why you should never give up chasing a ball down. Bregan was the one pressing the Wyoming defender who stumbled and Bregan took advantage and ran through and drilled a shot low into the corner. This gave us some breathing space and a license to relax a little bit but we kept up the momentum and finished the game off through a second goal from Blake when he coolly hit home after a good run by Riley. The only disappointing thing to come out of the game for us was that after we went 3-0 up we then basically stopped what we were doing and allowed Wyoming to dominate the last 5 mins in which they scored.  We should have had someone step up and clear a ball out of our box but instead gave them time and space to get a scrambled toe poke away. Other than that it was a very pleasing performance. Well done guys… just need to keep up that level of play every week.  

Round 7 : 19th May : v Killarney     (H)  (0-2 LOSS)
Today’s result sets a couple of unwanted records for our team in that it’s been quite a while since we’ve been beaten three games in a row and it’s also the first time this season that we’ve failed to score. There’s only one way to describe the first half I’m afraid… awful!! Nothing went to plan. Our passing went straight to the opposition, control of the ball was non existent and if there was a wrong option then you could bet we’d take it. There was also absolutely NO TALK out there which was a big reason for our struggles. Before the game we’d spoken about the first 5 mins, setting a real high energy tempo and getting right up in the Killarney players space to put them under pressure and force a mistake. That was before we knew they only had 8 players at the start!!!! They did have cavalry coming but for that opening 5-6 mins we should have been all over them like a fly on jam. Instead they seemed to always have a pass available which I don’t understand considering we had 3 extra players at that time. Their backups (U14’s) turned up and it became 11 on 11 and they managed to get away a couple of shots but nothing that really troubled Josh in goals. They did take one opportunity though and so went to the half time break 1-0 up. To be honest. I couldn’t wait for the whistle to end that dreadful half and a mild rev up was delivered at half time. 

Instead of us equalising through, it Killarney who scored to double their lead and make things very difficult for us. Their goal was well taken but the players determination was what put him in a shooting chance. There were two times where we could’ve plugged that run but only went into the challenges half heartedly. A full blown tackle could easily have seen the ball spin away to safety but instead they win the ball, get the bounce and put it away. To the boys credit I must praise them for their second half efforts. We created a couple of really good opportunities, especially one to Riley and one to Corey who will be annoyed at themselves for not hitting the back of the net. That said, getting yourselves into those positions is pretty good as well lads so don’t be too down. Our biggest mistake in the second half was starting to take shots at goal from 30-35 metres… why? We had players in front who could have had a run to goal if a smooth pass had been played in. So if we add ups the goal chances overall then it was a pretty even game in the end. We just didn’t take our chances when they came. We spoke during the week about standards slipping a bit lately so hopefully we’ll have no need to talk about that again and we kick on from here and start winning games again.

Round 6 : 12th May : v Kanwal     (A)  (1-4 LOSS)
We started out well with some good passes but just didn’t seem to settle. Another strong defensive effort kept Kanwal scoreless up to almost half time where they snuck a goal in. 1-0 down. I told you boys you were playing good, just need to be patient and straight away little Zac put one away in the first 2 mins of the second half but that was it! It seemed like no one wanted to play any more? A lack of interest on the ball and off it. Kanwal had turned up to play soccer and they showed it putting another 3 goals away. Boys, you need to play like a team, take losses like a team and not blame others. When you start doing this you will win. Heads up, its a long way to go. Chris

Round 5 : 5th May : v Mountains     (A)  (1-2 LOSS)
Well boys, we travelled up the mountain again but came back with another loss to the Mountains. We started off great, some good passing up front from Bregan and Blake and was unlucky not to score. Our strong back line held them off in the first half with some great runs from Jarrod up his side of the field but first half ended up 0-0. Went to the break confident of sneaking a goal in second half which happened in the first 10 mins. Riley steals the ball, plays to Bregan who put away in the bottom corner. 1-0. Conner played a role in midfield today and proved he can play in any role given to him. The next 20 mountains talked you all out of the game. You need to learn passing around players and skill will beat any talk. Mountains got one back to make it 1-1 but we had some great play, just need to be patient. With 2 mins to go Mountains win a corner and put away a sneaky header to go down 2-1. Boys… Steve and I are always at you about passing the ball, play as a team, respect each other and you’ll win more games than you’ll lose. Heads up boys! That’s soccer. We move on to next week. Chris

Round 4 : 28th April : v Gosford City     (H)  (3-2 WIN)
What a great game!! Well done to both sides for putting on a high quality match with some of the inter passing on display an absolute joy to watch. The Emus started very well and had a lions share of the possession inside the Dragons half. In fact it took almost 18 mins before Churchy in goals had his first touch of the ball. Unfortunately one of his next touches was to pull the ball out of the net when Gossie sent over a speculator cross from their right wing that drifted toward the back post and while Josh did manage a hand on it, the ball just pushed over into the net. This seemed to affect our morale and we were second best for the rest of the half. Gosford got a second goal from a corner where we lost our man and he was free to shoot from about 8m out. So 0-2 down at half time but by no means done yet. A convincing speech to get them going must have done the trick when little Zac picked up the ball from a square pass from Liam, who’d done brilliantly to win and keep possession on the right flank. Zac balanced himself and picked his spot low into the net. We were back in it! It was the same two who combined 10 mins later when Connor sent through a fabulous ball on the right to Liam who again passed in to little Zac who tucked the ball away. 2-2!! We were finishing the game well but Gosford always looked a bit of a threat too and just as we thought we would have to settle for a point each, up stepped Dylan with a speculator of his own from distance in midfield that the Gossie keeper flapped at but could only help into the back of the net. Heart breaking for the visitors I’m sure after such a decent display but joy for the young Emus on a superb fightback. These are the games that win teams competitions and while we’re a fair way from the end of the season yet, keep up that kind of spirit shown in the second half and we’ll be just fine. Great job boys!!! Just have to keep it going.   

Round 3 : 21st April : v Wyoming     (H)  (1-1 DRAW)
A frustrating game that we should have probably won but was not helped by some pedantic refereeing. Receiving cards for not having a sideline bib on ‘properly’ is an example of what we were up against but that said, this was the referees way and we just need to keep our composure, bite our lip and get on with it. Connor grabbed our goal from a corner and we had a chance near the end to finish it off but had to settle for a draw in the end. 

Round 2 : 14th April : v Killarney     (A)  (5-2 WIN)
With Steve away today this was my first job in charge as assistant coach for this year and I was proud of the boys efforts to get the win. Steve and I had spoken about the first 5 minutes and today the team performed from the start. Bregan had 2 shots on goal, keeping the pressure on forced a mistake from Killarney and we go ahead through an own goal. We then had another great cross to Dylan only to be just denied a goal. When the first subs came on, all 5 of them, they were ready to cover their roles and Blake was straight into it just missing then Garrett had a few good runs down his wing with some great crosses into the area. Our second goal went to Michael, a bounce shot the keeper could not handle and a third goal went to Bregan after a cross from Garrett. So 3-0 half time and I’m happy!

The 2nd half started a little scrappy but some good movement through the backs and across field by Liam and Conner. Killarney’s first goal was an own goal from Jett and their second was a a shot on the corner with Josh just missing it. We got back on top though and our next goal came from some nice play, little Zac beating three players and slotting a nice straight shot. Our fifth goal finished them off and was a lovely passing combo from the two Zachs…. little Zac laying a pass off to Gorto who hit the back of net. Great effort by all although the ref was tough with Alex getting a yellow. I know Alex that saying that’s how he was but you all didn’t let that bother the team and kept playing. Well done boys! Go the Emus!! Well done, Chris

Round 1 : 7th April : v Kanwal     (H)  (4-1 WIN)
What a way to start the new season with a solid scoreline against last years Grand Finalists and a team we expect will be up there challenging at the end of the year. With the older players continuing to improve and four new players in the mix to freshen things up, our squad this season is looking the strongest it’s ever been to date. Knowing what we know from last season, the expectations are pretty high that we should be challenging for top two and a result like this is a good way to begin. If we’re completely honest, I think Kanwal may rightly feel it was not a 4-1 game. They had lots of very good possession that we failed to close down quickly enough but on the other hand, while they managed to get to the edge of our box quite well, they did struggle to get any decent shots off. Churchy in goal for us had a fairly comfortable day when we look back on it and didn’t have any major saves to make. In our case, our finishing was top notch and we could have added a couple more to the tally. It wasn’t looking like it was going to be a good day though at the beginning of the game. For the first 6 mins we were totally second best. We were clumsy with the ball and there was no apparent fire in the belly. Kanwal were all over us like a rash as the saying goes. But the reason we love football is that it can change in a split second and all of a sudden a poor back pass from a Kanwal defender only found a lurking Emus debutante Blake up front who turned and kept his composure to knock a lovely pass shot beyond the advancing keeper low into the net. Totally against the run of play but the Wyong coaching staff were very happy to take it!! We then grew into the game, gaining some confidence from the goal and getting on top of proceedings but a short while later fate turned the tables and Kanwal took advantage against the play at of one of the few times we were way too loose at marking and grabbed an equaliser to level. The rest of the first half played out fairly evenly but we did manage to go in to the break 2-1 up when Bregan got on the end of a superb passage of play. The ball was deep in Kanwals half out on our right flank and it came to Liam who just didn’t have an opening to cross it to the centre. So instead he played an intelligent ball back to our right FB Jett who took a touch. looked up and sent a perfect flighted ball over the top of the Bulls defence and straight to the feet of striker Bregan who at the second attempt slotted past the keeper. 

At half time we spoke about how fortunate we were really to be coming in up on the scoreboard and that we had to show more desire if we wanted to finish the job. With 15 mins gone in the second half we were looking at making a change when up popped Bregan with his second for the afternoon and our third. It was a nice placement from well outside the box and at 3-1 we suddenly had a bit of breathing space. Given Kanwal’s inability to beat us last year when they fell behind, maybe there was a little mental perspective came into play from there because although they huffed and puffed they just couldn’t break us down. At the very end they got caught out when we counter attacked with a through ball that found Liam on the right side. He got to the ball, controlled and at the edge of the penalty area unselfishly played a perfect pass square inside to Blake who couldn’t miss and he put away his second for the day, the Emus fourth. 

One of the most pleasing things to come out of the game from a coaching perspective is that it looks like we will again be one of the best defensive teams in the competition. Despite finishing 5th last year, we had the best defence in the league and when Connor and Alex stepped up a gear midway through the second half and were immense in the centre of defence, strongly clearing everything that came their way, it bodes well for the rest of the season. Jarrod, Jett and Spencer were also very strong in their defensive roles and Jarrod was very unlucky not to score after an 80m run with the ball up the right hand side of the field!! Michael, Gorto and Dylan were busy in the middle of the park while Riley, Corey, Garrett and Liam were effective in their duties out wide. As mentioned, we could’ve had a couple more goals with the Jarriod chance being one and Gorto also made a strong run through the middle but their keeper foiled him at the last second. When we consider we managed this result without the input from little Zach who would’ve been a big influence, then we have a lot to smile about! Tough call to give a Man of the Match from our team as everyone played their part and that is exactly what we hope to see for the rest of the season. It’s not about individuals… it’s about the team and as said after the game in the sheds, I think we will have to work on getting the players to know the team song because if they can play like this consistently every week, I have a good feeling we will be singing it quite a bit after games this year!!