The 1st XI squad (15 palyers) are on a pre-season tour in Bristol from 25th August - 1st September, accompanied by Steve Biggins, Paul Pridgeon and our new sports coach Steve Clancy. They are staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Filton, North Bristol, and using Bristol University's sports facilities.
Friday 26th August 2011
Match 1 v Weston Super Mare Academy
We arrived at Weston Super Mare on a very wet and slightly cool evening. However, we did not let this affect our preparation, and after a slightly rushed warm up the game began.
In the opening period it was clear to us that Weston-Super-Mare were a well organised outfit who played their football at a high tempo and passed the ball around nicely; but in the opening twenty minutes we felt we started the better of the two teams. We were rewarded with a goal from Max Pragnell, who latched onto a fatal mistake from their goalkeeper, 1-0 to Shrewsbury. The game was quite even up to the break, but unfortunately they equalised on the stroke of half time.
After some words of encouragement from the coaches we started the second half very brightly. However after the hour mark it was obvious that we started to tire due to the early tempo of the game and our lack of preparation/training. Weston Super Mare struck twice in the final 20 minutes to lead 3-1. In the last ten minutes Shrewsbury fought hard and created some decent chances in order to reduce the deficit but were unable to find the back of the net, the game finished 3-1.
This was the first match for some of our players since last November. With the players having only two training sessions before the match, the performance was very encouraging.
Monday 29th August 2011
Match 2 v Bath City Academy
A rare warm and bright morning welcomed us as we travelled and reached Bath to play against their Under 18 Academy side. Despite a tactical Jaffa cake pit stop, we arrived in enough time to thoroughly warm up and felt far better prepared to face the opposition than in our first match.
As a result we started brightly, throwing together some neat passing moves and it wasn’t long before Alex Styles broke down the right, reached the by-line and pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot. Jack Hudson-Williams then met the cross and tucked the ball away into the bottom left hand corner for the games opener. There were some more tidy passages of play with Sam Welti regularly finding himself in threatening positions on the left hand side, and sooner or later he tucked away a parried shot for the games second goal. Bath City then replied with some bright passages of play themselves but Ben Gould rose well and claimed several threatening crosses before any danger could manifest itself. More fierce defending from our back four particularly some well timed but borderline rash tackles from Alex Styles led to a switch in the play and soon Styles swung the ball into the box and a rush of bodies in front of the keeper caused him to miss the ball and it rolled tantalisingly into the goal mouth where Max Pragnell pounced and poked the ball into the net. Bath City replied with a goal of their own just before the end of the half with a long ranged effort which swerved away from goalkeeper Ben Gould leaving the score 3-1 at half time.
Despite several words of encouragement and all four subs being made at half time, Bath City’s stern half time team talk caused them to up their game and they retained the ball much better in the second half, leading to several chances being created but a combination of resilient defending and good reaction saves kept the score at 3-1. We continued to string passes together but struggled to break down Bath City’s defence, this lead to Max Pragnell being isolated from our midfield and we then struggled to retain the ball for any great periods of time. As a result we came under some pressure and Bath managed to score as Ben Gould spilt a tough effort and a waiting striker pounced. We returned with new energy despite being tired and through a quick passing move George Ellery found himself in some space on the edge of the box and a precision strike saw the score move to 4-2. Bath returned again and they scored taking the score to 4-3 and in reflection our dip in performance is possibly due to a lack of match fitness and the lack of “roll on roll off” subs.
James Board and Howard Stringer
Latest News (31st August): Our goalie, Ben Gould, broke a bone in his hand yesterday morning and was unable to play in last night's match - he will be out of action for 4-6 weeks.
30th August 2011
Match 3 v Bristol Rovers Under 16’s
The Combe Dingle was buzzing in anticipation of another competitive encounter against a strong academy side. Our preparation was slightly hampered by an injury to goalkeeper Ben Gould which meant we had to ‘borrow’ one of Bristol’s ‘keepers.
The match was a high tempo affair, with good passing play from both sides. Although both teams looked threatening on the break, there were no major chances due to tidy work from both defences. Captain Henry Lewis organised the back four well, and made several key defensive headers.
Unfortunately, our hard work was undone when we gave the ball away in a dangerous area, leaving their striker with a clear view on goal, and he gave Bristol the advantage. However, their lead did not last long, as some slick one-touch football between Max Pragnell and Henry Lewis opened a channel for Jack Hudson-Williams to run into, round the keeper and slot the ball home.
The scores were still level at half-time and we hoped to take our momentum into the second half. But Bristol struck early after the break to lead 2-1.
Even with constant changes, we kept our shape well and look menacing on the attack. Max Pragnell grew as the match progressed, making clever runs and holding the ball up well. His hard work was rewarded when a ball from Jamie Board, a good turn and a well taken finish brought the scores level.
It was testament to our determination and resilience that we managed to grab a draw against a quicker and fitter Academy side who had been training all summer.
A very encouraging end to a very encouraging tour.