by Our Man on the Touchline, ‘Big’ Binny
7th October 2016
Last seasons all conquering ‘Hurricanes’ find themselves charting unfamiliar territory after three games in the SPL U18 Premier Elite.
The preparations for this campaign were intensified over the summer with Ben ‘King Cone’ Costello going full-time on the payroll as coach. Local cone suppliers were overjoyed as Ben cordoned off most of Stoke Park during his many and varied training sessions !
The squad had seen the departure of influential midfielder Clarke and signed defender/ keeper Coling from City. Another acquisition from City was former Hurricane, Chudley, a subtle centre-back who had been begging a return since the current Manager had taken office. Sadly, still on the injury list were Boyton and Davies.
This time last year, Worplesdon Rangers’ eldest and most mature team had played and won three, scoring 26 whilst conceding two. October 2015 and the team was already on course for the league title, brushing all aside with ease while gaining a reputation for sometimes playing in an overly relaxed fashion.
Having swapped the slopes of Onslow for the more meadow-like Memorial Ground in the heart of Worplesdon, the Hurricanes hosted Godalming Town for their opening game.
It was immediately obvious the Hurricanes were not going to be given the time,space and freedom they’d become used to last season as Godalming mixed a good brand of football with a strong physical presence. Mostly unused last season, ‘keeper Horton seemed to enjoy the action as he was needed to venture from his area twice in the first ten minutes.
Both sides looked to attack which made for an entertaining game, but it was the Hurricanes who scored first through Dennis, after a long range effort that eluded the ‘keeper who was clearly distracted by some clever dummy runs! Worplesdon assumed it was business as usual but their opponents continued to press. After a good spell from Godalming, it was Foster making it 2-0.
Half-time brought a much needed rest with the refreshments, the ‘fruit contract’ having been retained by Mr & Mrs Habgood.
Rangers started the second half in control, seemingly contented at 2-0, however it was the visitors who scored next, following dreadful marking .
It was time for the Hurricanes to wake up again and this time it was Royle capping a good all-round display, with a superb solo run and neat finish.
3-1 up it was time for another lapse!
With influential midfielder Hutton leaving the action with an injury, Godalming gained control of the central areas and capitalised with the #10 running at will, unchallenged to the edge of the area – making it 3-2 with a crisp drive low to Hortons’ right.
This made for a tense few minutes at the end.
Definitely not at their best but Rangers were worthy winners.
Burpham Juniors away was the Hurricanes second outing. Burpham were simply too organised and had a desire to win! Rangers were lamentable and barely managed a shot on goal all game. The closest they came was Fosters’ free kick that only troubled those nearer to Aldi.
Burpham were possibly aided by the apparently non-neutral official but this didn’t affect the result. It did however affect Binfield and Chudley, who felt aggrieved enough to get booked for some ‘interesting’ challenges! Burpham won 2-1, scoring all three goals in the process. Rangers last season had sometimes been careless – but this was different, it was closer to clueless.
Last Sunday Horsley came to the Worplesdon Memorial Ground.
Rangers looked positive from the start, enjoying plenty of possession, Bennett and Flynn linking well down the right, Binfield and Dennis to the left.
Horsley had a more direct approach, three forwards bristling with pace and power, centre backs Williams and Chudley under pressure. In terms of possession, the game was fairly even but in the slack marking competition Rangers won hands down, 3-0 in fact.
From midfield, Alderton constantly sought an opening for Foster and Royle up front – but despite their efforts were unable to cash in on Rangers’ possession. Shell shocked Worplesdon headed for the Pineapples and Bananas, 3-0 down.
The fruit was as expected, the team talk wasn’t,……… no swearing! No gesticulation! No volume!
Had the manager gone home? No, he was on a charm offensive! The Hurricanes sat and listened, still true to their vow of silence! A quick re-shuffle, going three in defence. Centre-back Habgood came off the bench for the re-start and was assigned a forward role. Much of what followed was due to the physical presence of Habgood .
The ‘old’ Hurricanes had re-appeared!
Horsley were on the rack and struggled to cope as Rangers went through the gears. Free-flowing football saw chances come and go. Another move full of passes and Alderton found Habgood, whose header looped over the keeper. 3-1 and the Hurricanes took control . A second followed less than two minutes later, Royle scoring from inside the area.
Captain Williams now driving the back three forward, Coling asserted himself in the middle, alongside the mercurial Alderton.
Rodrigues on the left and Bennett on the right as Rangers became ‘one’ seeking the equaliser. Foster duly obliged: 3-3.
The Hurricanes pressed for a winner but despite further chances and a typical quick break from Horsley forcing a fine save from Horton, it remained 3-3.
This term the Hurricanes have been tested with varying results . They certainly have everything needed to win trophies this season ………fruit, cones, low-altitude pitch etc. When in the mood, they can be unstoppable! It is theirs for the taking …… if they REALLY desire it!
Thanks to :-
‘Scones by Jane’ who proudly sponsor the U18 Manager!