Its a showery 14C – Welcome to Scotland.
We had a cheeky little friendly last Saturday against Kirkcaldy YMCA. I set the Gegenpress 4-2-3-1 on them and basically played 2 different teams in each half.
Civil Service 1 (Neil McVitie 52) Kirkcaldy YMCA 0
Only 31 shots, 63% possession and 84% pass completion. The Opposition keeper got a 7.1 for 13 saves. McVitie’s finish was a nice one off a rebound from about 12 yards.
Kieran Balfour unfortunately hurt his ankle ligaments whilst running – out for 4-5 weeks. Bugger. Johnny Devers and David Churchill are going to have to step up.
Our Ressies also played on the same day – losing 3-1 to Bo’ness Res, defender Robbie Laird with the goal after 23 minutes. One of the triallists got sent off after 10 minutes and stats-wise it was an even game.
The Scottish Cup was drawn on Sunday 2nd Sep – We are away to Wick Academy right at the top of Scotland. Expect Google Maps to crop up in that post. Definitely winnable though, they are currently 7th in the Highland League after 3 games. An away draw at a big boy could make this club just through the gate receipts, so its a really important game.
So, to the game. Gala Fairydean ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gala_Fairydean_Rovers_F.C. ) hail from Galashiels in the borders, and its a relatively easy journey for them up to NW Edinburgh for the game. They finished 13th in 2017/18, and joined the Lowland League in 2013 after the merger of Gala Fairydean & Gala Rovers. The pre-season preview has them finishing 11th so they have started the season very well. Currently 2nd they, like us have 3 wins out of 3 and have let no goals in so far so I’m expecting a tight game, especially after losing Kieran Balfour who had started his time with us strongly.
After the revelation regarding Off-the-Ball I’m staying with James Hainey up front – Off the Ball is a key attribute for Poachers – and I’m giving David Churchill the CM berth vacated by the injured Kieran Balfour. I’ve changed this to CM on Attack – we now have two of our best passers in centre midfield, hopefully controlling the game. Apart from that there is no change.
Gala are playing a nasty 4-5-1 which look like could be difficult to break down. Someone is going home with their 100% record gone (maybe both of us) – Lets get to it.
HT Civil Service 2 (Hainey 9,22) Gala Fairydean 1 (Sean McKirdy 25)
The game started quite tightly, with Gala packing the midfield and making things difficult – Forward Rhys Craigie looked a bit of a handful so I sicced Kev Waugh on him, marking him up tightly. The breakthrough was in 9 minutes – a beautiful ball over by the DLP McCulloch bisected the Centre Backs, with Hainey and his Off-The-Ball just off the leftmost Centre Back’s shoulder – Hainey ran with the ball and finished past the keeper from 12 yards. We doubled our lead after 22 minutes – a great slide-tackle from Left Back Kelly lead to Kev Waugh getting the ball after a few passes – his ball over the top found Hainey in space again, and he ran in and finished again from 10-or-so yards. However Gala always looked dangerous with the ball, and an a nice cross from Morris found McKirdy 15 yards out. He finished with a fine left foot cross-body volley into the bottom left of the goal. Game On. The half played out with both us and Gala looking dangerous – For the second half I may pull Churchill back from being quite so attacking – Mair has already been pulled back to the line of the other central midfielders, leaving us asymmetric but slightly more defensive. We have been on Balanced since the start, I’ll see how the 2nd half starts before reviewing that.
Even on shots, but 65% possession and 81% pass completion v 69% show us slightly ahead. Ready for a tough second half.
FT Civil Service 2 (Hainey 9,22) Gala Fairydean 1 (Sean McKirdy 25) Att – 61 (20 Away)
We just about snuck it – Gala came on very strong in the 2nd half, shading it IMO but just couldn’t make the breakthrough. Our defence was very impressive, catching Gala offside 5 times (7 in total in the game), Big Kev Waugh getting an 8.1 with his assist and 2 Key Passes. It makes me wonder if he could transition into the Half Back role at some point – He out-passed our DLP McCulloch by 4 (114 v 110), though at 73% v 83%, mainly as later I on increased the passing to more direct and went Cautious – trying to catch Gala up the pitch. Extremely happy with this result against a team that will be challenging for the title. We now have 5 games in 14 days from the 15th September, 4 of them away, so there will need to be a bit of rotation I think. Up the Strollers!!!!! Top of the League!!!!!!!!!