This week was potentially a very good week, but proved to be a very disappointing one. To begin with on Monday we had a double day but I still felt pretty rough from the past few days and my chest was still heavy. We had a series of short and small games in the morning as well as a few different passing drills, and then in the afternoon we did some technique work and both attacking and defensive shape.
FA Youth Cup Match: Nottingham Forest v Bolton Wanderers
On Wednesday it was the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup and we were at home to Bolton, the game would be played on the big City Ground pitch under the lights at 7pm. We didn’t train in the morning, instead our coach brought us in at 10.30am to all go for a walk and stretch our legs before having a meeting with one of our psychologists to talk about the big game ahead.
I went home and had a bit of kip before turning up for the game at quarter to six. I felt pretty good, felt relaxed and not nervous at all when I got in the changing room. I just felt like I wanted to express myself out on the pitch where I love playing whenever I get the chance. On paper we were again the underdogs in the game, however, we were all individually and collectively confident that as a team and as individuals we could overcome the opposition on our own turf.
The warm up went smoothly and it was a cold night but that wasn’t ever going to affect us. We started the game brightly and both teams went at each other, we had a few attacks and corners early on and so did they. It was a bit scrappy and I thought it was very even.
In the first half there weren’t any real clear cut chances as such, but I had a couple of chances I felt I could of done better with. In one of them I attacked their centre-back and got past him only to see my left-footed shot saved by the keeper’s legs. My other chance I was hugely disappointed about missing, I jumped up and challenged the goalkeeper to see him spill the ball and it landed right next to me, as a reaction I swung at it with my foot only to see it go inches past the post, I was gutted.
We went in at half time all even and in my eyes it was anyone’s game, we were told by our coach that we could play better (which was a true reflection) and we really wanted to go for them in the second half.
We got off to the worst possible start when we conceded a goal within five minutes or so of kick off – it was a poor goal to concede from our point of view because it was straight through the middle of our defence. Once the goal went in we found another gear in our play and forced the game on them. We piled on the pressure winning corner after corner and limited them to just one other shot in the half.
We had so many near misses which just went past the post, we forced the keeper in to a couple of half decent saves, we also hit the underside of the bar and just near the end I fired a ball across goal which was destined for one of our players to tap in but the keeper stretched out and got a good hand to it. The game ended 1 – 0 to Bolton, the dream quarter final tie against Liverpool or Chelsea wasn’t to be.
The road had finally come to and end for us, to me it felt like Walsall last year all over again. I hate losing, but to lose in a Cup match in a game where I knew we could have won was just completely sickening. I walked off shaking my head with my face in my shirt, I was gutted, no more Youth Cup for my career.
I felt that during the game I had done a couple of good things, but not as good as I know I can be and I felt I let myself down on the night by not being as clinical as I know I can be. I didn’t want to speak to anyone when I got home, I just went out for a walk to cool down and my neighbours’ wall felt the full force of my anger, but after a while I had calmed myself down and went home.
Match: Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield Town
Saturday was a day for us to put things right, to show that we have strong character as a team and can come back from games and not just crumble when we’re disappointed. We were up against Huddersfield in what was our first home game of this year I think. I wanted to get out there and put things right.
We started the game quite well and got at them and kept the ball up at their end. However, as the half went on we let them in to the game more and their midfield started to come out on top and they created quite a few chances, hitting the bar and post. We changed our formation to 4-3-3 and I went and played out wide on the right which isn’t my natural position, but I was confident playing there.
We were a goal up through Rods at half time and I felt pretty tired to say the least, my chest felt very heavy and I think my body was still a bit fatigued from all the running I did in Wednesday’s game. I spoke to other players and they said they felt the same so I was glad it wasn’t just me.
We took on a lot of pressure in the second half and I personally didn’t really get on the ball too much although I did get chance to go on a few dribbles with the ball. Throughout the whole game I didn’t get a single chance which was frustrating and at the end of the game I tried to manufacture one which got blocked on the edge of the area, so for me the game was frustrating in that sense.
We won 1 – 0 and I was just glad that we’d reacted to the defeat against Bolton and got back to winning ways straight away. I was tired and my body ached all over. We play Sheffield Wednesday away next weekend. So all in all it has been a disappointing and frustrating week for me but that’s football for you – one week it’s going really well and you’re winning games, the next it doesn’t go so well and you lose games. The most important thing is how you react to the tough times.