U15 Div 2: Round 1 vs Penshurst

Friday night under lights

In 2020 the COVID 19 pandemic has dominated the media and completely changed our lives. We have had to learn remotely, communicate differently, and an entirely new language has become the “new normal”, even on the football field.

The season opener was played under new protocols, against a new opposition and welcoming a few new faces, but the wet conditions meant the ball slipped through hands like a bar of soap at a hand washing station.

Despite the sanitiser there were very few clean possessions in the first quarter as the lack of match practice and the intense pressure from both teams made the going tough. Goals were harder to find than toilet paper during lockdown and there was barely a goal separating the teams at quarter time.

Coach Paul reminded the boys that “stopping the spread” didn’t apply to the forward line as he encouraged the forwards to spread out, lead into the pockets, and allow the midfield to flatten the curve out into the open spaces. Despite the effort Penshurst started to gain the ascendancy in the middle but the Cannons backmen put the game into lockdown. All were outstanding but none more than Ethan, who followed social distancing rules to the letter and ensured nobody got anywhere near him when he had the ball. The constant pressure meant that Penshurst couldn’t convert possession into goals.  Forget “pandemic”, it was “damn panic” when, despite their domination of the play, Penshurst was only 9 points up at half time!

A quick goal to Penshurst at the start of the 3rd term injected them with a confidence  which spread like a virus through their entire team. The Cannons defensive 50 became the hot spot as a cluster of attacking players made it more crowded than Bondi beach in March. Penshurst effectively shut the border across the centre of the ground, and imposed their own travel restrictions which ensured the Cannons had to stay at home inside defensive 50.

Health authorities encourage people to get tested and the final quarter certainly became a test for the Cannons. Shortness of breath was common but in this case a clear symptom of lack of match fitness.  Damo started cramping, Max was clearly in pain, Killa looked unwell and Stewy was physically sick, but like essential health workers, they courageously dug deep to keep the game alive. The inevitable outbreak of goals eventually came and Penshurst were able to record a tough but well deserved win.

There were plenty of disappointed Cannon faces at the end of the game but the result masked some real positives. Debutants Rameez, Jack and Luca showed plenty of pace and mobility and experienced players Cruisey and Riggers continued where they left off last year and dominated their opponents. Elliot has improved his skills adding to his already impressive stockpile of speed, strength and endurance.

Overall the Cannons were Courageous and they had Opportunities but ultimately they were Valiant In Defeat. Despite the scoreboard, those 19 players can hold their heads high and look forward with confidence to next week.