Two games in, the Rafters have hardly lacked in both phases of defense and offense, scoring five goals while conceding only two. As the Blue and Gold played their first home game against the Tyler FC Kings, they showed a need for efficiency but an ability to provide spark off the bench with prolific sub opportunities.
The Rafters had a rare ten-minute stint of coming out of the gate overwhelming their opponent with possession. This might have had more to do with this being the first game played by Tyler FC, never-the-less, capitalizing on lack of play time is something we’d like to see.
With that possession, the Rafters earned 7 corners in 24 minutes. This is where the first sign of a team that hasn’t been able to train much manifested, as all seven went untouched by the Shreveport side. But that’s the best thing about this team thus far- being able to cover typical early deficiencies with playmaking as they would score twice on two set pieces only a couple minutes after going 0/7.
In those two goals lies another great problem Coach Phillip will have and that’s deciding who to play with such a deep roster. As soon as both substitutes came on they contributed and thanked Coach Phillip by tying the game with Brett Barker (CF) and taking the lead with Tevin Peters (FB) in the 32nd and 34th minute. Peters has been one of the players to watch, as both appearances as a substitute have been outstanding with a goal, an assist* and the best ability I’ve ever seen of any defender: being sent off without receiving a card.
Coach Phillip has to be impressed with his defensive personnel, with having to drop highly touted Saul Camacho (CH) due to an injury sustained in practice and not missing a beat this game. His replacement however, Adam Kirkwood, simply came in, made no individual mistakes on defense, while also scoring a ridiculous lone-effort goal in the 56th minute.
To put it plainly, the Rafters are deep in all field positions and if health maintains, could continue the best of the first three starts the franchise has seen.
11th Minute- Classic case of defensive “I thought you had it”. #7 of Tyler FC takes a free kick 20 yards out, near the right touch line. About the ball delivery intention, only the player and God knows what his intention was, but my guess is a cross. With a dash of luck, the free kick taker drives the ball toward the back post, missing everyone for the first goal of the game. 0-1 Tyler FC.
24th Minute– Rafters earn their seventh corner in only a third of the game played. In all seven, Tyler FC was first to all of them, rendering the home sides fruitful offensive efforts to earn set pieces…fruitless.
27th Minute– Coach Phillip makes a series of substitutions in all three portions of the field. Tevin Peters for Alex Curry(LB), Owen Richardson for J. M Santos(CM), and Brett Barker for Scott Halper(CF). Oddly enough, this is the exact time it started to pour down raining.
32nd Minute– Five minutes after the tactical substitutions, the first of the subs makes his mark on the game. On the Rafters 9th corner, Daniel Aviles (man of the match) receives the ball on a short corner, near the touch line. Aviles beats his man with relative ease giving him all the time needed to ping a hard-driven ball into the 6-yard box. The first and last to the ball is none other than Brett Barker, tapping the ball past the keeper from only a yard out. 1-1.
34th Minute– Who needs offensive players when you’ve got defenders that will score and get assists? Sean French launches a back spinning free kick from 55-yards out into the 6-yard box. Rising above all below is Tevin Peters, who heads the ball back across the goal and the keeper, directly hitting side-netting. The Rafters grab the lead in the span of seven minutes of Coach Phillip substitutions. 2-1 Rafters.
55th Minute– Down two goals, the Kings make the first of two disastrous positional mistakes. Due to marking too high up the field, Jevanni Hinkson blisters past two defenders with 20-yards to run onto a through-ball. With the ball at his feet, Hinkson craftily gets in front of the closest defender in the 18-yard box, leaving him no choice but to foul. Hinkson is then brought down with a late challenge from behind. Forty seconds after being fouled, Hinkson takes the responsibility of taking the spot kick, however, misses wide left.
59th Minute– Adam Kirkwood makes a 1v1 tackle from his center-half position with plenty of space to advance the ball. Kirkwood beats two men with quick reaction cuts with the ball, positioning himself past midfield with no one in front of him. Kirkwood takes one look to spot the keeper 16 yards off his line and lofts a looping chip. The goal serving as reminder that defenders are defenders by choice. 3-1 Rafters.
“After I got the space needed, I looked up and saw the keeper off his line and decided to have a go. ” -Adam Kirkwood
73rd Minute– Rafters put on a text book display of how to defend a 4v5 counter. Depsite being at a man disadvantage, the back line gets to zonal positions leaving no man more open than another. One of the first signs the team is building bonafide chemistry.
“This game was almost a carbon copy of the first. I think it’s just the guys trying to figure each other out. When you’re unsure about what your teammates want to do, your instinct can be to just ping the ball. So, I think we’re falling in that trap in the first half. Unfortunately, the only option you have is try to holler at the guys on the field (which is really hard to hear in stadiums) or make substitutions to change things,” said Coach Phillip.
[impact of the substitutes]
“I thought today our Substitutions were fantastic. Brett came in and did a really great job of helping us link the lines. TP came in and did a really great job at the back. Both guys scored right away. They both added something to the game before we got to half time.”
[deficiencies on set pieces]
“We haven’t been able to train corners yet. And the thing is, when you don’t have all your guys at training, you can try corner sequences all day. But if you have guys that aren’t there, then they don’t know. I sure hope that we can generate this many corners once we get to a point where we can train and be more efficient with those opportunities. And the same thing can be said about defending them. I thought we were, in both games, not highly efficient defending those set pieces. It just shows you that both teams need to time to develop cohesion.”
[Training schedule with 3 games in 8 days]
“Because it’s finals next week for most of these guys, it’s going to limit the training that we can do. I think these games so close together makes like an opportunity to train. Guys love to train and play without coaches stopping them, and the game does exactly that.”
SonT- 5 SoffT- 7, Fouled- 6, Corners- 15
Goals & Discipline: 32′ G- B. Barker/ A- D. Aviles; 34′ G- T. Peters/A- S. French; 59′ A. Kirkwood; 68’ Yell- S. Halper
Tyler FC Kings
SonT- 5 SoffT- 7, Fouled- 6, Corners- 4
Goals & Discipline: 11′ #7
Possession: 52.18% RFC 47.82% TFC