The Round 16 schedule saw us take on Ajax away, in what was a must win game for both teams to keep the season alive. Having won our last 2 games we were looking to continue our winning momentum and register our first win away from home for the year.
We started the game strongly and completely dominated the first five minutes of the encounter. Our mids were on top and we were able to play the game in our front half. We managed two quick goals and things were looking good. From then on though, for the remainder of the first half we were out worked and out played by Ajax. Ajax ramped up the pressure and really took control of the contest. They dominated stoppages and we were really struggle to get any real control of the ball. Luckily our defensive unit was strong behind the ball and propelled many Ajax forward attacks. We didn’t help ourselves when we had the ball. Our ball use was poor and we seemed a bit hesitant in the contest. In a low scoring first half we trailed 2.5 to 5.4 at half time.
At halftime the entire group was calm and there was no panic, as we had been in this position the previous week, so we knew we could turn it around. We addressed our poor ground ball efforts and sloppy ball use and felt if we could tidy that up, and be more physical around stoppages we could work our way back into the game.
To our boys credit we responded after halftime. Our mids led by Forato and Nicholson got on top and were able to give us first use. We were able to generate plenty of inside 50’s and our front six looked dangerous one on one. What was most pleasing was our pressure we put on the opposition and our ability to be proactive on defensive transition to lock the game in our front half. We managed to slam on 6 goals in the third whilst only conceding one, to see us take a 14 point lead into the final change.
The final quarter, as expected was a tightly fought contest. Ajax came out hard as expected and hit the scoreboard early to put us on the back foot. Again to our boys credit we were able to wrestle back the momentum and get control of the ball. Some patient ball use and deep dangerous entries gave us good looks in front of goal. Both teams had momentum throughout the quarter, but every time we were challenged, we responded with a goal. In the end we came away with a hard fought 4 point win.
A really courageous win for our young group. We were challenged and found ourselves behind on the scoreboard, but to our credit, we showed great resilience and discipline to reset our focus and execute our game plan under fantastic Ajax pressure. Fantastic result for the group to get reward for effort and maintain the winning momentum.
We looked forward to our final home game of the season next week when we take on Williamstown. Another big challenge ahead, and one we are very much looking forward to.