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Tim Hopkinson - Nottingham Forest FC

Full of Beans

03/12/08 |

At the start of the week I was still a bit frustrated from losing the game at the weekend to Huddersfield, but I wanted to train hard this week to try and make amends this weekend against Sheffield Wednesday.

Monday was a double day like usual, the morning consisted of a perimeter run to warm up, but then we had to do an extra one because one of the lads had forgotten to clean the balls that morning. When someone slips up the whole team is punished because that’s what it’s like on a Saturday, if one lad forgets to track a runner, you let a goal in and that’s football.

Once we’d done the run we did a passing drill to work on our passing technique on both feet over short and long distance at different angles. After the passing drill we went in to a possession game with three different teams all in separate colours. One team would work for two minutes to try and get the ball back, whilst the other two teams were trying to keep possession because they had twice as many players – each team did this twice and it was an absolute blower when you were the defending team as press-ups were on the losing team.

To finish off that morning we did some shape work because the Under 17’s had an away match against Aston Villa so we went through that and it wasn’t too strenuous. In the afternoon we had the technical coach in again to work on our techniques with the ball at our feet.

We worked in pairs and did short movements through cones before playing a side foot pass to your partner, we did lots of different variations like chest then pass, thigh then pass, headers, chest straight back…just different ways to control the ball really. We then did some finishing from central positions and from wide areas before doing 4v4 games in a short area.

This was a good blow out and somehow out of nowhere I managed to meg McCashin which was my highlight of the day! Once I got back home I just had a relaxed night watching television and playing Tiger Woods on the play station with my brothers and I lost like usual – clearly showing they play the game too much, not the fact that I am just shocking!

Training on Thursday was a decent session because we did our usual passing drill to work on our technique, but after that we got a bit of free time because the coach was working with his defenders and midfielders. It was good because we had about ten or fifteen minutes to work on whatever we wanted. I went off with Jordie and practiced my hold up play and just getting confident with the ball travelling long distances and then me controlling them neatly.

We also practiced little movements from throw-ins and different scenarios that may come up in a game. Taking a throw-in near the oppositions 18-yard box means you’re that close you can make chances really easily, so we just practiced some of them and hopefully they’ll come to use in the game on Saturday. After that we did some crossing and finishing and general attacking from wide areas.

That afternoon we did some work with one of our psychologists. We worked on performing well as a team using a film about people stuck on a mountain to relate to how people work as a team to achieve what they set out to do.

Match: Nottingham Forest v Sheffield Wednesday

Saturday was by far the coldest we’ve had this year, we got to Wilford Lane for our game against Sheffield Wednesday and even though it was quite a sunny morning it was freezing! We had a look at the pitch like usual and there was a bit of dew so the ball would fizz across the surface during play but the wind wasn’t as bad as it has been in recent weeks.

I’d had beans on toast like usual that morning and I felt like I’d prepared well for the game. We started the match off quite well and pushed them back putting lots of pressure on them in their own half. We had quite a few crosses into the box and got on the end of some but we didn’t really hit the target or test the keeper. I ran down the sides quite a lot because they held a high line and left space down the channels so I got some success and won a couple of free kicks from running down there.

After about half an hour we got a break through, I received a ball from a throw in on the left just outside the edge of their area. I controlled it with my chest and then felt a defender tight behind me so I flicked it over his head and from just outside the six yard box had a shot with my left foot which was deflected off a defender in to the far corner. Lads were trying to say it was an own goal, but no chance of that! I was making sure it was my goal, like all strikers do.

At half time we were 1 – 0 up and I thought back to a couple of weeks ago when we were in exactly the same position against Huddersfield. We lost that game 2 – 1 so we were determined to not let that happen this week.

The second half was a scrappy affair with both teams putting in challenges and chances being created at both ends. Fortunately for us we got a second goal after about 70 minutes when George cut in from the left and scored from just outside the area.

That goal took a bit of pressure off us and we were more relaxed after that, a bit too relaxed in some ways because we let Wednesday come at us towards the end. We were able to hold on to the two goal advantage and win 2 – 0. It was pleasing because it was our first clean sheet of the season, I still know areas I need to work on in my own game but I thought I played a good role for the team today and I felt fit as well, not feeling as stiff as usual at the end of the game.

Next week we have Portsmouth on Friday in a friendly before playing West Ham in the Youth Cup on the following Tuesday.