POSTED: September 11 2021 23:24:14. By Ben Robinson - Hurricanes frustrated but positive early signs

U13 Hurricanes (Away) v Atherton Town U13 Hurricanes
Saturday 11th September 2021 (11am KO)
Eckersley Fold, Atherton, M46 0JP
Lost: 0-3 (HT 0-3)
Man of the Match: Enzo Patrick

Following an impeccably well-observed minutes’ silence, as both teams showed their respects for the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks 20 years ago, the Hurricanes had their first game of the new season in a new league.

They started their Under-13 season in the Bolton, Bury and District Football League Division 1 away at Atherton Town. Matty Cox and Freddie Wardle were both unavailable but otherwise coach Ben Robinson had a full squad to choose from, including new recruits Luca Mobey, Sophiyulah Bakare, Taylor Hales-Cummins and Daniel Robinson.

The well-organised home team started quickest on the big, familiar surface though and it didn’t take them long to take full advantage of the Beechfield players needing time to adapt to their positions and surroundings. A couple of route-one attacks allowed the Atherton strikers to take their chances and earn an early 2-0 lead before the Hurricanes had even found their feet.

However, the Beechfield players didn’t let their heads drop and soon started to compete more effectively. Daniel Robinson had the first chance on goal for the away team but was unlucky to see his effort drift just wide of the post. Luca Mobey made a couple of good blocks in the Hurricanes’ goal as Atherton continued to threaten on the counter-attack, but Joshua Whitehead and Fabio Figueiredo were starting to win the 50/50 challenges in the middle of the park. This allowed Oliver Nangle down the left and Oliver Hall down the right to make some dangerous runs forward, and both created chances for Jamie Maher and Enzo Patrick who were playing in front of them.

The pressure continued as the first set of Hurricanes substitutes came onto the park, with Alfie Rostron cleverly creating chances in the opposition half and Henry Errington testing the home ‘keeper, who just about managed to keep his efforts out. Against the run of play though, a swift counter down the Atherton right led to a clinical finish and a third goal which, on the balance of play and possession, the Hurricanes really didn’t deserve.

This still didn’t stop the Beechfield dominance though, and the introduction of Sophiyulah Bakare at the back helped to tighten up the Hurricanes’ defence even further, as he and Dillan Caldwell both defended resolutely in their full back positions. There was one more Atherton counter-attack before half time, which Owen Hogben used all his wits and guile to stop, although the home striker obviously didn’t appreciate the attention as he lashed out an elbow and in an attempt to knock the Beechy’s captain’s head off?! The referee managed to calm any rising tempers and, not long after, blew his whistle for the half time break.

After the break, the away side started the second half as they’d ended the first and the game was being played almost entirely in the Atherton half. Man of the Match Enzo Patrick was seeing plenty of the ball and was desperately unlucky not to hit the back of the net with one of a number of good chances (including a great header, from one of the smallest players on the pitch, following an excellent Alfie Rostron corner!)

Taylor Hales-Cummins was becoming increasingly involved as a holding midfielder and did well to win the ball several times before playing some intelligent balls forward. The re-introduction of Thomas Robinson and Jamie Maher gave the Hurricanes width going forward and both helped to ensure that the Atherton defence were tested to their limits. Alfie Rostron and Oliver Hall both tested the home ‘keeper (who must surely have earned their Man of the Match award?!) again but the ball just wouldn’t seem to go in to give Beechfield a consolation goal that seemed the very least that their efforts so richly deserved.

Despite having the lion’s share of possession in the second half, the Hurricanes could’ve conceded again late on, after captain Owen Hogben was forced to limp off with an injury. As the game drew to a close, the ref gave what looked like a very soft penalty for a foul in the area. Goalkeeper Oliver Dalton-Bunker went the right way, but saw the ball go just wide of him and hit the post! Thankfully he managed to smother the rebound and ensure that the second half remained goalless.

Ben Robinson was positive after the game and pleased with the effort and attitude of his players after shaky in their first league match as a team, in a new division, on a huge away pitch. While it wasn’t the result they were hoping for, there were plenty of positives which will give everyone great optimism for the season ahead.

The Hurricanes squad for the match was: Oliver Dalton-Bunker, Fabio Figueiredo, Alfie Rostron, Enzo Patrick, Oliver Hall, Alfie Rostron, Dillan Caldwell, Jamie Maher, Henry Errington, Joshua Whitehead, Thomas Robinson, Luca Mobey, Taylor Hales-Cummins, Oliver Nangle , Sophiyulah Bakare and Daniel Robinson.

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