Blackpool 17 – COPA 9
Return of the Dad Squad!
COPA undertook their first senior men’s away game in approximately 2 years! Going into the game we had 8 players. On the day Jacob was forced to pull out due to injury, leaving 7 players and a conundrum for the coach, and dread for the players!
A WhatsApp message was sent out like a virtual ‘Bat Signal’, which superheroes would choose to step up and save the day? Is it a bird, no, is it a plane, no, is it a group of unfit, some slightly rotund 30 something dads, yes! The Dad Squad had answered the call!
Unfortunately, Ste was unable to don his trunks and answer the call as the lovely Abi had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl and Ste was up to his elbows in nappies, wet wipes and !
The Dad squad, Michael, Ben, and Thomas answered the call, then out of the shadows came the daddy of them all Dave!
This Dad squad was joined by regular player and dad, Dejan. Matt and Cameron made up the other senior players along with junior players Caleb, Labib and Sam.
Time to start the game, with Tad as referee. Whistle and off we go!
Quarter 1 and a great start, COPA win the ball and go on the attack. Labib receives the ball and passes to Cameron on the right wing, dropped into Dave in the pit, turn, shoot, miss, ah memories! Blackpool charge down the pool, shoot and miss. The clock, the clock. The game clock hasn’t started, the dad squad are crying, no additional time please! Back on attack and Dave has the ball in the pit again, turns his player, shoots, miss, deja vu! Blackpool attack and again miss. A pattern is beginning to form. Cameron has the ball on the arc, shoots, over the bar! Blackpool take a more measured approach to attack, play the ball around, STEAL, Thom steals the ball and COPA are breaking down the pool, Cameron receives the ball on the right wing, rises out of the water, like a leaping salmon, shoots, bounce off the water, too strong and bounces over the bar! Blackpool quickly break down the right-wing quick shot and a good save by Matt. Matt passes the ball out to Michael who passes to Cameron on the right-wing, quick pass into Dejan in the pit, turn, miss over the bar! Can nobody get the ball in the back of the net? Blackpool attack and another great steal by Thom. Quick ball into Dejan in the pit, turn, shot, save, corner to COPA. Michael receives the ball on the right, shoots, block by the Blackpool defender. Blackpool attack but throw the ball away. Cameron as the left driver has the ball, climbs, shoots, save by the keeper. Blackpool attack down the left-wing, slack marking allows the players to shoot, bounce shot, Goal! 1-0 Blackpool. From the centre-pass the ball is played around the arc as Dejan saunters into the pit. Ball is played into Dejan, turns, shoots, crossbar down onto the water and out into the keepers’ arms! Are these goals small? No, we are just missing our shots! Blackpool attack, save by Matt. Matt passes the ball out to Caleb on the left-wing who passes to Cameron inside. Ball into Dejan in the pit, turn, shoot, blocked by the defender and out for a goal throw. Blackpool on the attack again down the left-wing, quick cross pool pass to the ring-wing, shot, Goal! top ring-hand corner, 2-0 Blackpool. Slack attacking play gives the ball back to Blackpool with seconds left on the clock. The keeper has the ball, COPAs coach shouts to Matt in goal, “Shot!”, Matt is three foot off his goal line. The Blackpool keeper heaves the ball as hard as he can down the pool in the form of an arcing shot. Matt rises out of the water, tips the ball, the ball hits the crossbar, down onto the water and… Goal, oh dear me! Blackpool 3-0 and the end of the first quarter, and a last 5 seconds Matt would like to forget!
Changes to the attack were needed. It was getting predictable and easy for the defence to counter. More movement in attack was needed.
Quarter 2 and Blackpool win the swim off. Shot and Matt makes a big early save. COPA on the attack ball played out to Sam on the right-wing, foul and pass inside to Michael, pass into the pit and a steal by Blackpool. Quick ball down the left-wing, slack marking again, allows a shot from distance into the top left-hand corner, Matt no chance, Goal, Blackpool 4-0! From the centre-pass Ben walks the ball down the pool. Cameron makes a quick break on the left, pass, bounce shot, nicks the corner of the goal and out for a goal throw. Blackpool have the ball and quick gets turned over, Michael has the ball in the centre, shoots, miss, as wide as a country mile, the radar needs a bit of fine turning! Blackpool tear down the pool, quick pass into the pit, turn, shot, SAVE by Matt and gets the rebound and a foul. Matt passes to Ben. Ben meanders down the pool with the ball, a sprint was out of the question! No-one comes out to tackle him, he just about rises out of the water, shoots, right corner, GOOAAALLLLL!!!, 4-1, and Ben takes his customary rest out of the pool, things don’t change! Blackpool from the centre-pass work the ball down the right, a quick cross goal pass, shot, top right-hind corner, Goal! Blackpool 5-1 up! COPA from the centre-pass look for an opportunity but run out of time, 30 second shot clock violation and turn the ball over. Blackpool play down the left-wing, ball is played into the pit, Dejan is marking from behind and Sam comes in from the right and steals the ball, between Sam and Dejan they get the ball back to Matt, great defending! Blackpool quickly regain the ball, COPA’s defence is at sixes and sevens, quick shot and Goal! Blackpool 6-1! From the centre-pass COPA work the ball down the left with Caleb, a wayward pass into Dejan in the pit allows Blackpool to counter. Ball played into the pit, Thom is working hard, whistle and an exclusion for Thom, MAN-DOWN! Blackpool manage to pass the ball and shoot before the COPA defence can fully set, Goal! Blackpool 7-1 and in danger of running away with the game! Center-pass and the ball is played to Sam. Sam passes to Cameron on the right-wing. Dejan is set in the pit. Cameron plays the ball in. Dejan is heavily marked but manages to turn his defender. It looks like he out hiking and carrying a human shaped rucksack on his back. Dejan shoots, GOOAAALLLLL!!! Finally, a shot from the pit goes in, straight over the keeper’s head! 7-2 and a much-needed goal! The jubilation didn’t last long as from the centre-pass, Blackpool attack down the left-wing, Dejan’s attacker managed to slip from his clutches, quick pass in from the left-wing, shot, Goal! 8-2 Blackpool! COPA are getting sloppy at both ends of the pool and lose the ball in attack. Blackpool counter quickly down the right-wing, Only Caleb and the keeper to beat. Caleb rises high out of the water, like a stone sentry, preventing a shot to the near post forcing the shot straight down Matt’s throat, good defending and goalkeeping prevents Blackpool getting a late cheeky goal at the end of the quarter. Blackpool win the quarter 4-2 and lead 8-2 at the half-way stage!
Quick talk about movement in attack and getting tighter in defence from the coach were the order of the day. The team were asked to look at starting over and aim to win the next quarter!
Quarter 3 and Blackpool win the swim off narrowly, a valiant effort by Labib almost won the ball! Blackpool’s attack fizzles out to nothing and COPA are on the attack. Ball is played into Dejan in the pit, turns, shoots, Blocked Again! What is going on with COPAs shooting?!? Blackpool on the attack again but some strong defending from COPA thwarts their attack. COPA set-up in attack, Michael swims to the right, receives the balls turns, Dejan spritely moves out of the pit to the left post, Michael pitches a perfect pass to Dejan, shot, GOOAAALLLLL!!! Perfect lob over the keeper to the back right post, that’s more like it, lovely movement and finish, 8-3! Blackpool on the attack play the ball into the right-wing, Caleb is marking hard preventing the Blackpool player from turning with the ball, out of nowhere like a bird of prey Labib swoops down on the ball! Between Caleb and Labib they get the ball back to Matt in goal, great team defending from the juniors. Two quick goals from Blackpool increases their lead to 10-3! COPA on attack. Cameron has the ball on the left-wing, passes to Sam who passes to Labib. After releasing the ball to Sam, Cameron drives across to the right. Labib passes to Cameron, shot, save! Great ball movement and swimming! Blackpool swim down the other end and take a pot shot from distance, pin-point accuracy gave Matt no chance in goal, 11-3! Tighter marking on the arc is needed! COPA move the ball down the right-wing, Michael plays the ball into Dave in the pit, WHISTLE! Exclusion Blackpool player 7! Quick thinking by Michael passes the ball to an open Dave on the right post, shoots, surely Dave can’t miss…….GOOAAALLLLL!!! 11-4, is a comeback on the cards? Strong defending by Sam on the left forces the Blackpool player to shoot wide! Sam is working like a demon in defence taking the, you shall not pass attitude, well done Gandalf! Quick pass to Labib then forward down the left-wing to Cameron, pass into Dave in the pit, turn, shot, Block by the Blackpool defender! DEFENCE is the cry from the coach. Blackpool attempt a quick pass into the pit. Michael lunges at the ball like a crocodile attacking a bathing wildebeest at a watering hole on the savannah and steals the ball! Team attack and everyone ‘sprints’ up the pool, oh, oh, Blackpool leave a player in COPAs defensive half. Man-up, can COPA take advantage of the situation, quick answer, NO! Blackpool regain the ball and toss the ball down the pool to the free player, one-on-one with Matt shot, Goal! 12-4, this is quickly followed by an almost identical goal. We should have learnt from the first goal! Centre-pass and Ben walks the ball down the pool. Cameron breaks from left to right and then performs a perfect U-turn, like a finely tuned Aston Martin, back to the left post, Ben passes to Cameron, shot… GOOAAALLLLL!!! 13-5. Blackpool from the ensuing centre-pass work the ball down the pool first the left then the right, shot, Goal! 14-5. COPA centre-pass, the ball is passed back to Dave, he walks the ball down the centre of the pool, he rises out of the water like a baby hippo trapped in mud, he shoots? Passes? Who knows, only Dave does! Although I think we all know the answer! The ball attempts to bounce off the water but plugs in the water, right in front of Cameron driving from left to right. The unknown shot/pass dumbfounds the Blackpool players long enough for Cameron to gather the ball, turn and pass back to the left were Dejan has worked some space, catch, shot… GOOAAALLLLL!!! 14-6. Unbelievable! Blackpool quickly regain their composure and attack from the centre-pass. Quick pass to the left then cross goal to the right post, shot, SAVE! Matt saved the day. COPA attack but the quarter ends. Quarter score 6-4 to Blackpool, 14-6 total.
Tighter marking on the arc to stop the long-range shots and better communication to prevent one-on-one opportunities for Blackpool are the topics discussed during the break. Thom puts his hand up to go in goal, the last three quarters have taken their toll!
Quarter 4 and Blackpool win the swim-off and charge down the pool for a final quarter assault. The ball is played to the right post, under pressure from Sam (Gandalf) the player shoots, SAVE, point blank save from Thom! From the corner play Cameron receives an exclusion foul, Man-Up Blackpool, quick ball movement and Goal! 15-6. COPA play the centre-pass to Ben, then on to Labib on the right. Cameron makes a swim from the pit to the right, seen by Labib who puts in a perfect pass. Michael sprints from right driver to left post, Cameron turns with the ball passes to the leaping Michael, shot… GOOAAALLLLL!!! Another great team goal! 15-7. Blackpool not happy with the goal try to make amends, strong team defence, WHISTLE, 30 second shot violation, excellent team defence! Thom passes the ball out to Labib on the right wing who passes down the line to an open Matt. Michael in the pit receives the ball from Matt, tries and audacious flick over and behind his head towards the top left corner, Save by the Blackpool keeper! Blackpool break and quickly have a man free on the left wing, he walks the ball in, shoots to the far post, Goa… no wait, Thom kicks out of the water to his left with whatever reserve of energy he has left, SAVE, fantastic two-handed save to stop the Blackpool celebrations in their tracks. Unfortunately, from the resulting corner, slack marking created and open opportunity for Blackpool to increase their goal tally, 16-7! COPA determined from the centre-pass play the ball round confidently then, Michael is partially free on the right-wing, receives the ball, fires home… GOOAAALLLLL!!! 16-8! Nice finish! Blackpool attack, play the ball into the pit, but Michael is there to steal the ball, quick pass out to Cameron on the right-wing by Thom and Cameron is off. He sprints down the wing with the ball, then left and inside the defender, then back and out to the right, he still has the ball!!! He raises out of the water, like the Birth of Venus, shoots, aarrgghhh! Narrowly over the bar! Two-minutes left in the game, Blackpool attack and a tired defence allows Blackpool to score, 17-8! COPA play the ball down the right-wing, Cameron is sitting on the left post, the ball is played into him by Michael, Cameron picks up and shoots, BLOCKED by the Blackpool defender, the ball is right in front of Cameron, he reacts quicker than the Blackpool defender, picks up, shoots… GOOAAALLLLL!!! 17-9! Blackpool from the centre-pass look for the right-post, Caleb lunges at the Blackpool attacker which is enough to disturb his shot and he shoot over the bar. Quick pass out to Dave who walks the ball to half-way, NO! Everyone in the building knows what’s coming next, a Dave Special! He shoots from half-way, the balls in the air… a comfortable save by the keeper! Blackpool on the attack play a quick smart ball into the pit, Caleb sprints back and makes a great tackle and steals the ball. 10 seconds to go and Thom has the ball and sees glory! He shoots… Wide and short! Whistle and the end of the game. Blackpool win 17-9!
A valiant effort by the team. All three juniors, Caleb, Labib and Sam can hold their heads up high, they held their own, didn’t backdown from the challenge and made many important contributions to the game. As for the Dad Squad! Some excellent play, although fitness issues made these less frequent than they could and should have been. Overall, the coach was very pleased. Shooting accuracy and tighter arc defending are a must for improvement.
Man of the Match – it has been a difficult decision, the juniors as a group played fantastic, Michael played excellent, Matt in goal or Dave for the ‘pass’ of the game! In the end the coach plumped for Cameron. He defended well and in attack he didn’t stop moving and was rewarded for his efforts with some brilliant goals. Well done Cameron.
Players: Matt, Cameron (3, X), Michael (1, X), Thom (X), Labib (X), Dejan (3), Sam, Dave (1), Ben (1), Caleb