Victory Stadium, HMS Temeraire, 19 Mar 14 - 1930 Kickoff
In their first match of the 2014 Inter-Services Constantinople Cup, the RAF ground out a one-nil win in a tightly fought contest with the Royal Navy.
The Victory Stadium at HMS Temeraire played host to a game which provided few clear cut chances on the night with the only goal being scored through a 60th minute penalty.
The RAF lined up in a 4-5-1 formation and had the better of the opening exchanges, however chances proved to be few and far between with the only real effort of the first 25 minutes being a wild shot from SAC Ellis which sailed high and wide.
The Navy looked dangerous on the counter attack with their quick wingers and a hopeful long ball from AB Cashman in the 17th minute nearly split the RAF defence but was coolly dealt with by goalkeeper Cpl Mears. A minute later Cashman then found himself in the referee's book for shirt pulling after being beaten by his man.
After the tight opening to the game, the Navy gathered some momentum and had their first real spell of pressure after twenty minutes. The RAF defence struggled to clear their lines and invited pressure onto themselves with Mne Jack English's wild effort proving to be his side's first shot of the half. The RAF soon came back into the game, however the stalemate continued as both teams cancelled each other out for the rest of the first half.
SAC Ellis had another shot from distance but again failed to hit the target, this was followed by several RAF corners but the closest a real chance came was after goalkeeper LAET Emmerson fumbled resulting in yet another corner.
As the first half petered out it gave both managers time to assess what changes could be made for the second period to try and take a grip of the game.
Both teams made tactical changes at half time and it paved the way for a much more eventful second half. The Navy switched their wingers and had AB Cashman playing in a more central position to try and get the influential midfielder more of the ball. The RAF pushed up Cpl Brownhill into a much more advanced role in order to provide lone striker SAC Robinson with more support.
It didn’t take long for the changes to have an impact as substitute SAC Debnam hit an absolute piledriver two minutes after the re-start that drifted wide of the Navy goal, however it showed a glimpse of what was to come in what proved to be a much more entertaining half.
Debnams's effort was followed by a flurry of RAF corners but again they couldn’t muster a real effort on target, but the signs were already promising that this would be a better half of football.
The Navy responded with a couple of shots of their own ten minutes after the break with CPO Andy Todd having his effort on target saved after some excellent work by the pacey Mne Mike Scott. AB Cashman, who was one of the Navy's most influential players on the night, also managed a decent effort after losing his defender, however his shot drifted low and wide.
The real turning point of the game came in the 60th minute as a defence splitting diagonal through ball from SAC Claisse found Cpl Brownhill who used his pace to drive at the Navy defence. After being bundled to the ground inside the box the referee correctly pointed at the spot and the RAF found themselves with an excellent chance to break the deadlock.
SAC Dixon coolly dispatched the penalty low and left with goalkeeper LAET Emmerson getting a glove to it, but had little chance of stopping the ball finding the back of the net.
The RAF looked to build on their lead and five minutes later Cpl Brownhill again used his pace to breakthrough the defence, however a last ditch challenge forced him to put his shot narrowly over.
The Navy pushed on for the last twenty minutes in search of an equaliser and the RAF found themselves defending deeper and deeper. A barrage of Navy crosses was well dealt with however, and the RAF looked comfortable until the Navy brought on the physical presence of Cpl Ben Hebditch in the 80th minute who nearly made an immediate impact.
After finding the ball at his feet in the penalty area he spun his defender well but his shot trickled agonisingly wide of the post. This was a warning for the RAF who continued to defend well in the closing stages as the Navy looked to push on and capitalise on their dominance.
As the pressure continued the Navy earned themselves several corners in the dying minutes but never troubled RAF goalkeeper Cpl Mears.
On 85 minutes the RAF brought on SAC Smith for the impressive SAC Robinson who had run himself ragged all game leading the line alone.
After 4 minutes of added time were signalled the Navy's last chance of an equaliser came when a dubious freekick was given just outside the penalty area. However, Cpl Dan Boere's tame effort drifted wide of the RAF goal. This proved to be the final chance of the game as the RAF tried to retain possession for the last few minutes.
The final whistle blew on what was an incredibly tight game which forced the RAF to work hard for their win; however solid defending and patience in attack saw them earn an excellent victory over a tough Navy team.
Report by SAC Stu Jones, RAF FA Comms Team.
SAC Dixon (Capt)
SAC Debnam (replaced Oakley – 45 mins)
SAC Smith (replaced Robinson – 85 mins)
SAC Dixon (pen)
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