1ST XI v US MENETROL
12th NOVEMBER 2011
We start as we mean to go on - at least I hope so anyway. There's some head-tennis in the centre of the field and the ball breaks kindly for one of the Pionsat players - it might have been Nico but I couldn't really see - who has a first-time shot on goal. Not with any luck though, because it goes just wide of the post.
You can tell how hard he kicked it as well because the ball had long-since travelled out of the range of the lens before the camera reacted.
There's a strange line-up out there tonight. I've noticed that Jerome seems to be playing as an extra right-back tonight, marking their n°8, which is a strange thing if you ask me. Michael who has joined the club this season is playing on the right wing instead of on the left, with Nico down the left flank and Cedric as usual in the middle.
Midfield is Alex, Pierre and, well, I suppose Jerome, and the back four is Nicolas, Vianney, Sébastien and Gregory, with François in goal this evening.
And after 20-25 minutes there's a change to the side with Gregory coming off (injured, so he told me later) and Gaëtan coming on.
We're having en excellent match here this evening and the first half of the first half, if you see what I mean, is quite exciting with some good end-to-end play.
Pionsat are going forward quite well and win a corner, and it's one of those driven corners that come in hard into the penalty area at about head-height. I couldn't see who got his head to it - it may well have been Cedric - and it's a bullet header as well but it just goes past the angle and out for a goal kick.
And then we have an incident that is quite depressing. There's a full-blooded challenge by two of the players in the centre-circle and not only does the ref decide that Nicolas has conceded a foul, Nicolas has come off clearly the worst and has to be helped off the field by a couple of his colleagues.
No stretchers here or anything like that. There is no Health and Safety Executive in France to compare with the one that exists in the UK. Why do you think I've moved here? I want to be able to play conkers without having to wear safety glasses.
And straight away from the free kick before the Pionsat team has had time to reorganise, A Methanol player takes the free kick down to the left winger in the place that Nicolas was covering. He crosses the ball into the area to the unmarked centre-forward and there it is, in the back of the net totally against the run of play for the last 15 minutes.
I wonder what it is that the trainer sees when he looks at this defence. It's something different that what I see. Had I been on the bench it would have been Vianney over to right-back, Alex to drop back into the centre of defence, and a holding midfielder brought on to play just in front to cover them. .
And so after this costly aberration (although regular followers of these pages will consider it to be nothing of the kind) The Pionsat players resume their position in the Menetrol penalty area, where they have been for most of the match.
There's yet another corner which is driven in as before and another Pionsat player gets his head to it and this time it's on target. However there's a Methanol player on the line who sticks out a foot and stops it going in.
Michael is the first to react to the loose ball and he lets one go from about five yards out but there's another Methanol player on the line who sticks out another foot. he again makes contact with the ball and clears it off the line.
There's a surge of players towards the ball and anythign can happen here but one of the Methanol players is first on the ball and clears it out for a corner to allow his defenders, the attackers, and also the supporters, a little opportunity to take a deep breath. We need it after that. That should have been a goal about two or three times over, that.
The Pionsat players are still doing really well going forward and Pierre does exceptionally well to wrestle the ball away from one of their defenders. He finds a clear space and drives in a cross to the far post where Michael is once again in a good position to have a go.
But once again there's a Menetrol defender on the line who sticks out a lucky foot and manages to deflect the ball out of play for a corner. Surely Pionsat must score soon.
For the second half Michael is off and Thomas is on. He's playing right side of midfield and Jerome has gone forward into what is without doubt his best position. If he starts to tear shreds off the opposition as he did last Sunday against Malauzat then this could be exciting.
And Pionsat start the second half as they finished the first half - rampaging forward. They win a free kick almost straight away from the kick-off and Cedric floats one in to the keeper who, under very little pressure. drops the ball.
There are two Pionsat forwards running in on it, which is always good to see, and one of them gets a clean header on the ball. Unfortunately it's straight at the keeper who hangs on safely this time. Anywhere else but there would have been fine, with the goal gaping.
And even more against the run of play, Methanol score a second goal. They have won a corner, due to a couple of missed tackles down the left flank where Pionsat's defenders hadn't got the ball away out of danger.
The corner comes in and it's won easily by a Pionsat defender who elects to play the ball out of defence instead of clearing it upfield and that should set the alarm bells ringing in everyone's head. Of course, possession is lost and Methanol make the most of this unexpected (well, unexpected if you are not a Pionsat supporter) opportunity.
What do you expect anyway? I've run out of word to describe it.
Alex has gone offfor a breather and Michael comes back on as Pionsat push forward. And Michael almost finds himself on the scoresheet with his first touch. It's a long ball out of defence (hooray) by Vianney to Gaëtan down to Nico who lays it off and receives it back and despite being clattered a couple of times he keeps his feet and puts in a good cross into the area.
Michael pushes himself in front of the Methanol defence and gets his head on the ball but again it's straight into the arms of the keeper who hangs on grimly - "lucky grimly" ...ed
But almost immediately there's a breakaway from Methanol and they almost score a third. A good cross into the area is intercepted by a Pionsat defender whose header goes right up into the air and drops behind him as he is disorientated.
One of their players is clean through what remains of the defence with just François to beat and goes for glory. Astonishingly, he puts it well wide of the target and Pionsat breathe again.
Right now as the game draws to a conclusion, Pionsat's defence is adopting what is called the "Lego Defence" - they'vegone all to pieces in the box.
It's the central defence messing around with the ball on the edge of the penalty area instead of clearing the lines properly upfield and losing possession, and it's allowed Methanol back into the match. There's another one-on-one between a Menetrol player and François, and they miss it yet again.
Somebody mentioned to me earlier in the game that when Pionsat have possession in the opposition half, the opposition tends to panic. We've seen a few examples of this but yet it isn't really a panic because hacking the ball out of play for a throw-in or a corner is sound tactics at this level when you are caught short at the back. It gives your players time to draw breath and come back into position.
But here's one occasion when it all goes wrong for the Menetrol. Pionsat are once more on the rampage well into injury time, and it's Menetrol who for a change are caught short in defence.
One of the Pionsat forwards takes the ball down to the goal line and brings it back infield for a shooting chance but he's unceremoniously scythed down by a desperate defender.
There are few penalties clearer than this one and Cedric takes the kick. He dispatches it quite comfortable into the net with the keeper going the wrong way
And that's our lot, I'm afraid. Another three points lost at home to weaker opposition. Pionsat should have had this team dead and buried long before half-time but at the end of the day they were lucky to only concede two goals.
Maybe "runners-up" was something of an inflated position last season or else the standard of the Division has improved, but whatever it is, the team needs to cut out these silly errors in defence, concentrate more, and do the simple thing like getting the ball upfield or out of play from defence instead of trying to show off. It just is not working.
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