A curious game which began life as the long awaited four a side, expanded after first rotation to five a side and grew again at last rotation to a six a side spectacular with a crowd of willing players waiting on the sidelines for a possible fourth rotation.
Teams were evenly matched in terms of ability but for the first time the ‘gentlemen’ contingent (+40) self-organised into a senior side – apparently in response to an ongoing conversation concerning end game tactics – their theory being to try and enter the third with scores even, cause a few late goals and then close down a “Chelsea Wall” to secure victory through stubborn defending of a slender lead.
The red and yellow youth teams began the first at furious speed, putting two goals against each other in fairly quick succession while the blue seniors effectively stood back and watched. Play remained unaligned (no team joining forces with another) for the whole of the first – which came as a surprise as four a side had been posited as a perfect blend between the tactical coherence of three a side with the positional efficiency of five a side. (In the event the opposite seemed to be happening – still too much ground to cover – but no correlative increase in team consciousness). With a two goal advantage the second half of the first inevitably saw blue face a red yellow combine but good goalkeeping and a left, right and centre back defensive rigour ensured a blue clean sheet at the close.
The late arrival of three regulars now transformed the game as it moved into the second. The dynamic of a fixed goalie (rather than the nominated rush goalie of the four a side game) lead to a catastrophic lack of coherence within the yellow team and an opening score of 2.2.0 rapidly ballooned to 5.2.1 without blue and red needing to work together at all.
A second monstering (see game 5) seemed to be on the cards but an injection of concentration and application within the red team and careless goals conceded by both blue and red stemmed the flow. Indeed a reinvigorated red now turned single handedly against both blue and yellow, scoring some excellent goals to see the second rotation close at 5.5.2.
The blue tactic had been to try and enter the third with scores level but a three goal advantage was never going to distract the efforts of the opposition for long enough to allow a last minute lead to build. It went without saying that a red/yellow combine would now turn on the blue goal – and that is exactly what happened. It didnt help that the blue goalie suffered a mini crisis at the same time but it took less than two minutes for the thtree goal lead to evaporate.
The tying of the scores at 5.5.5. now co-incided with the arrival of another five players eager to join the game. Six a side had already been proven in one of our earlier games and so the sides were augmented yet again – and with similar consequences. Inter-team coherence was once more stretched by the tactical shift required of the additional player and it was again the ‘youth’ teams which came out worse. Indeed the ability of blue to now ring fence the goal with three senior defenders while the two fresh legs rode shotgun on the backs of either red or yellow as they pitted themselves against each other saw a blue lead open to 8.7.5. with almost all the goals resulting from the numerical advantage of the two blue outfield players joining with either team.
While this was going on however there were constant attempts by either red or yellow – and occasionally both in concert – to attack the blue area but the tactic of the three man permanent defence withstood every attack. One blue player was left on the line between the red and yellow areas and every time an attack was repulsed the blue defence punted the ball over to this lingering outfielder who was able to turn in the direction of the least defended red or yellow goal, bringing the relevant defence out of the blue danger zone.
As the minutes went by the ever increasing coherence of the onslaught against blue did prise open a glimmer of hope as an outstretched leg in a packed goalmouth poked home a obtuse deflection. Blue now brought back all five outfield players into the area to try and ride out the last minute and held on to take the game 8.7.6.
I think we’ve really started to get the hang of this. The next stage of the experiment is going to be to form fixed teams and see if team identification evolves the tactics in a different direction. It has certainly been speculated that the forming of a mini league or tournament with positional advantage being sought in a league table would be likely to generate alliances lasting longer than the brief period within a game necessary to level the scores. This time a leveling of league positions would presumably be the balancing quotient.
Watch this space.