On the Wednesday before last, UYAFC welcomed a struggling Teesside outfit to the 3G, knowing that a victory would all but end Hull’s chances of snatching the title away from them. Whether it was complacency due to Teesside’s four defeats from six, or the importance of the occasion, the Black and Gold looked a shadow of the side that had smashed in nine goals in three games. They could ill-afford to repeat the non-committal, flimsy performance of the Teesside match against Leeds Trinity, no better or worse a side on paper than their previous opponents. Leeds Trinity were comfortably put in their place to the tune of four goals to nil. This meant that UYAFC travel to Hull on Wednesday with their pride restored and a golden opportunity to seal the Northern Premier 3B title. But what was it that caused them to collapse against Teesside, and how did they put it right in such style just seven days later?
The root of the problem lies in the pros and cons of lining up in a 4-2-3-1. The basic notation of such a formation dictates that with the wide midfielders pushed on as out and out wingers (Connor McCoy, James Davies) the central midfield ‘holding’ pair need to be both dynamic in terms of their ‘box-to-box’ movement. If the central two (Mirhire Overo-Tarimo, Chris Osborne) are too static in their movement, the attacking midfielder (Joe Easter) quite simply never gets into the game. This is exactly what happened against the Teessiders. Initially, Teesside were caught cold, and the combination of overloads created down the flanks by fullbacks and wingers left and right looked to overwhelm as the home side started strongly. Midway through the half they forced a goal, and continued to press for a second. Unfortunately, they were caught out by one incisive attack on the break by the away side. It was this equaliser that gave them the confidence to execute their plan.
The lack of movement through the middle from Overo-Tarimo and Osborne was quickly exploited- Teesside noticed that York were loathe to cut inside and attempt to play through the middle due to lethargy on the part of the central midfielders. This left UYAFC frustrated in two ways- firstly as Teesside pressed them wider and wider into corridors on the flanks, their movement down the channels was increasingly restricted. It was because of this that Joe Easter found himself open for a pass in acres of space through the middle, yet he was frustrated by the lack of supply. York failed to analyse and react to this approach by getting the ball through the middle to Easter with Overo-Tarimo and Osborne in alternate support. This meant they ended the afternoon with a disappointing draw.
Whatever was said in training on Monday, it certainly worked as last Wednesday and the Leeds Trinity game rolled around. Although the same strategy was implemented in terms of working it down the channels, York were restricted from direct approach play by the ferocity of the wind around the 3G, which scuppered any aerial balls. Much like the Teesside game, high tempo play down the right flank caught the visitors out and James Davies capitalised, cutting inside to shoot home at the far post. When Leeds Trinity became wise to York’s wingplay, unlike last time out, they began to look inside at Easter whose quick feet and vision caused no end of problems to the Leeds back-line. Mirhire Overo-Tarimo really came into his own in this game, battling forward with energy to sit the midfield high.
He would go on to burst into the box to grab a couple of goals of his own- all while being brilliantly protected by Chris Osborne. It was this energy through the middle that saw UYAFC take Leeds Trinity apart in a manner which surely would have seen off the Teessiders, and if they carry this tenacious momentum into the crucial match on Wednesday, they’ll go to Hull, and they’ll come back with three points and the title in the bag.
UYAFC travel to the University of Hull on Wednesday, and kick off at 3pm.