Kings Heath Rangers 'B' 5-0 Armada 'B'


It had been a tough run of fixtures and results leading up to this encounter with Armada. One thing had become abundantly clear, the team was crying out for a structure and a trademark style. We also needed to be more professional in our pre match approach - in terms of warm up drills. The great thing about bad results is that it can focus the mind and be an opportunity for positive change.

We had decided that we were going to shift our formation to a 4-3-3 and play with two advanced 8's/10s with a single pivot. The thought process was that the balance had been too skewed towards defensive robustness which paradoxically led to less control of the ball and an invitation to opponents to play closer to our goal. 5 defenders and 5 attackers was roughly what we were trying to get across to the team, with plenty of instructions on shifting from 2-3-5's to 3-2-5's and after a failed press, dropping into a 4-5-1.

Going into the game, Callum and Lamar were late and we put George into the starting XI and moved Bash back onto the wing. The warm up drills consisted of a technical drill which focused on the players ability to receive the ball in various ways, an overload drill which consisted of a race into a 3 v 2 and a possession/killer pass 8 v 8 game. George also carried out a dynamic stretching routine which the players really responded well too.

Unfortunately despite our players being well prepared for kick off, the opposition forgot to bring their kit and the game had to be delayed by an hour. It is never easy to have your muscles go cold and then have to warm up all over again. Nevertheless we did have an advantage in that the opponent had no time to conduct any warm up at all.



It was really noticeable how the team was looking to implement the new style of play. Goal kicks were being taken short and there was a concerted effort to play out from the back. Was it perfect? no but it was very heartening to see players take instructions on board and look like they were enjoying the challenge of playing an attractive brand of football.

Grady in particular was very impressive at collecting the ball off the goalkeeper and playing out inspite of pressure. He wasn't helped by our left back tucking in too narrow rather than making the pitch nice and wide, but he had the composure to still find a pass into midfield. Raurie was not at his best in possession, and he and Badri who was playing as an advanced 8 were slightly guilty of taking too long to release the pass but they did show the courage to ask for the ball and take responsibility.

Despite the positive start, Armada began to establish a foothold in the game. One of our big problems was that when we were pressing, the forwards were getting beat by their defenders and this meant they had got through the first wave of the press too easily and then with our defenders being too deep, there was acres of space and time for them to find a forward pass. The backline had not moved up to support the initial press.

Another issue we had was that despite our forwards looking a threat, they were not holding on to the ball in the final third - so the opposition was able to come right back at us and for a 15 minute period, the game was played in our half. Fortunately I had instructed the players to drop into a 4-5-1 shape whenever the press had failed to win the ball in 6 seconds and this gave us the solidity to get through this period of the game without any damage.

Armada soon ran out of steam and we were able to pick them off, Mikey making some good runs in behind and well supported by Thomas and Bash who had switched wings by this point to give us a fresh look in attack. It worked a treat and Bash was able to get another trademark ice cold finish, leaving a defender on a floor with a fake shot and then putting it away in the opposite corner. This was followed by Thomas scoring twice, one of which involved working an opportunity inside the box before a hard drilled shot down to the keepers near post which he couldn't keep out.

To top it off, George finally got a goal to cap off what was an excellent first half display where he was the heartbeat of our attacking game. He scored a free kick from 35 yards - it was meant to be a cross but everyone ran across it and the goalkeeper was left stranded.

Half-Time Score 4-0



After congratulating the team on the first half result it was important to stress that in some respects it was a deceptive scoreline and that there was certain things we still had not grasped. I explained where we were going wrong in the press, and how the full backs needed to get higher and wider to make the pitch bigger. There was not much more to be said past that point and I alerted the players that in 15 minutes I would be making a lot of subs.



Due to the delayed kick off, it was getting darker by the minute and after a listless opening 15 minutes it was time to ring the changes. The front three were replaced and Callum, Meb and Lamar were brought on and Daniel was taken off for Mo. Kurt was upset to not be brought on with the others but my thinking was that I wanted to see Badri play as a 9 for 10 minutes to see how he combined with Lamar and Callum in future games.

In that 10 minute spell, we did not allow Armada out of their half and the pressing was excellent. Callum demonstrated a ferocious willingness to win the ball and he was whizzing past their players. Badri was making his presence felt in the final third and was able to protect the ball and drift wide to make central defenders uncomfortable. I had seen enough to form a picture of what may be possible in a future game and the time was ripe to unleash a rather angry Kurt on to the field.

I knew Kurt would be aggrieved at being the last sub on but due to the fact the team doesn't train together often - I do not get many opportunities to experiment with different lineups and it was important to me, to be able to quickly assess if Badri could play alongside Callum and Lamar. Anyway Kurt came on with a point to prove and he looked sharp, his movement was good off the ball and he was holding the ball up well.

We soon won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Kurt lined up to take it. He initially hit the wall but as it bounced back out to him, he planted it into the top right hand corner to put us 5-0 ahead. It was a wonderful moment and although we would remain a threat throughout, it would prove to be our last real effort on goal.

In the second half, the backline was much better in terms of its distances from the wingers and the midfield. This meant we could keep the play in Armada's half for pretty much the entire half. Mo was excellent when he came on and he won nearly every 1 v 1 battle but more importantly demonstrated great quality in possession which really helped us to consistently progress the game whenever it went out wide. Lamar was wasteful in possession and failed to use Meb in the left CAM position effectively but we were constantly getting down that flank and looking dangerous.

Full Time Score: KHR 'B' 5-0 Armada 'B'



A great result against an opponent who did present some difficulty in the first half and could play some football. The most pleasing thing was that the new tactical instructions had been taken on board by the players and it was having a direct impact on results. There is no greater feeling as a coach but there was still a lot of work to be done and we could not let ourselves by blinded by the ease with which we got the goals in the first half. Stiffer tests remained ahead.

Key lessons learned

In the amateur game it is very difficult to implement a style which involves full backs constantly overlapping as it involves serious fitness levels. I will need to find a way to address this.

In order to keep the ball in the opponents half, you need players who can make a ball 'stick' and can hold on to the ball for long periods of time - we had not quite sorted this issue out yet

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