We returned back to training in the New Year on the 5th of January. We had broken up on the 19th of December, which meant we had a two week break from the football and in a way it was nice to have that off because you get to re-energise yourself and have a rest to get back and work hard for the remainder of the year which is important.
Over the Christmas break I got to see family and friends etc. but it was also vital that I kept myself ticking over fitness wise to be ready to come back and get ready for the games ahead. Just before we broke up we had to do fitness testing with Loughborough University to monitor how our fitness has been through the season so far and fortunately for me it went quite well because I got the best scores I’ve had for most of the season. It’s also a way for the coaches to know if we’ve kept ourselves fit.
We were given fitness programmes to work on and carry out over the two weeks and I made sure I did what I felt was needed to keep myself fit. I had endless kick-abouts at the park with my brothers, played squash, badminton, and did runs and gym work too so I got a lot done and felt just as fit when I went back.
As I said before we went back on the 5th of January and it felt like pre-season all over again for Monday and Tuesday. We did some fitness to get us back up to pace and did quick perimeter runs to start with on the first day back. After that it consisted of passing drills to get our touches back, which believe me were rusty to say the least. We then did a lot of football fitness to get back in to the swing of things and making the right sort of runs in the right places.
In the morning we did football fitness in teams of five and in the afternoon we opened it up a bit and did 9 v 9 for about half an hour which was a real lung opener having not played a game in weeks. After that we did horse shoe runs around a pitch and to be fair they weren’t too bad compared to ones we’ve done in the past so no one was complaining and I certainly wasn’t.
I got back on the Monday night at half past five and after arriving at my house I was asleep quarter of an hour later in the lounge on the sofa. I slept for about two hours and woke feeling stiff as anything from the days training. I didn’t get to sleep until gone one o’clock because I’d had my nap in the evening and I can never sleep early if I have a nap.
On Tuesday it was similar to Monday, in the sense that we did a lot of football fitness for quite a while on a small pitch in the morning and then a bit bigger in the afternoon to get our touches back and get back in to the rhythm etc. We also did a gym session on Tuesday morning which was really to just get back in to the swing of things, but I’d done quite a bit of gym work over the Christmas break so I was alright. Tuesday night again I had a nap when I got home even though I tried to stay awake, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and gave in to falling to sleep on the sofa again whilst watching ‘Friends’.
On Wednesday we had education like usual from 9 until 3 o’clock, it went fairly quickly and we seemed to get quite a lot of work done this week – hopefully I should get most of my BTEC unit’s complete in the next couple of months. We do six unit’s in our first year and then six again in our second year, at the moment we’ve done three and are most of the way through our fourth so we’re on target to finish earlier than the end of the season, fingers crossed, which would then give us some extra time on a Wednesday in what is a crucial year for us second years.
On Thursday it was a pre-match sort of day because we were playing Cardiff on Friday in a game to warm up before the Youth Cup tie on the following Tuesday. So on Thursday we did our usual throw catch to begin with – I can say that my team has won 5 or 6 in a row now which is crazy! Normally never on the winning side! After that our coach named the team and I had been named up front. From there we did shape for about 20 minutes to get used to making runs in the right positions, and with it being unopposed, it made it easier for us to get our touches right and get some confidence.
After training we went back to the ground to do a short upper body session, nothing too strenuous because of the game, but some bench press and shoulder press using dumbbells. After training I went home to rest up for the match the next day and just watched TV, mainly Friends again!
Friendly Match: Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City
On Friday we got a bit of a lie in because the game was at 12 o’clock so I had beans on toast around half nine and headed up to Wilford training ground for quarter to eleven instead of going to the ground like normal. Our coach stated in the pre-match talk that he wanted us to all individually get something out of the game, so for me my target was simply to get through however long I played feeling fit and having no stiffness in any muscles. That was my personal target for the game.
We went out and warmed up like normal and got ourselves ready for the game. We started off a little sloppy and it took us a while to get in our stride, but after about fifteen or twenty minutes we’d got most of our rustiness out of our systems and we began to put together passes and looked a threat going forward. I felt fit chasing their back line down and wasn’t really blowing that much which was what I wanted.
After about half an hour we went a goal down when one of their players were able to volley in from the far post after not being marked; a move which in fact came from one of our attacks that they counter attacked from. Later on in the half a free kick came in the box and hit one of their players and the ball came out to me and I could see a defender coming which made it so easy for me to decide what to do. When a defender comes fully committed in the box to the ball and you can get there first, all you need to do is get a little touch on the ball first and they’ll take you out – which is exactly what happened and I won a penalty!
Having earned it I thought I should take it, I had in my mind to hit it bottom right but as I stepped up I saw from the corner of my eye the keeper was half a yard closer to his left, so like an idiot I changed my mind last minute an put it bottom left….The keeper of course guessed that way and saved it, it was a shocking penalty if I am honest so I wasn’t best pleased with that.
We went in at half time 1 – 0 down having been the better team chances wise. In the second half we were a lot better, passed well, moved well, worked it through the midfield and created a lot of chances. However, we failed to take any of the chances and lost 1 – 0. Our coach told us that he was generally pleased with how we played once we’d got going, but we need to start off better and take our chances to beat teams.
That was one thing I was frustrated with, not scoring the penalty, but fortunately it was just a friendly and not a League or Cup game where hopefully I’ll be alright if I step up for one. Apart from the penalty I was happy with my performance, I felt very fit considering I had not played a match in almost a month. I came off with about 5 or 10 minutes to go but I didn’t feel out of breath and felt good.