Match Review

Panama City Pirates vs Palm Beach Pumas @ Gavlak Stadium 7pm Friday June 27th

The Game

Pirates 7 – 0 Pumas

Goal 10 Bruno Conceição (Lemma)
Goal 12 CD Harris (Lawall)
Goal 42 CD Harris (Mroczkowski?)
Goal 50 Anteneh Lemma
Goal 54 CD Harris
Goal 60 Bruno Conceição (Robinson)
Goal 70 John Dill (Robinson)

I arrived with some expectation of a good win but half of me was doubtful. When you play away and beat a team comprehensively it can fill you with confidence, but sometimes that becomes overconfidence and you end the game with a shocked look on your face wondering what went wrong.

Luckily the Pirates arrived confident and properly motivated. Coach Elliot knew that these games are the hardest types to prepare for and he had the lads lining up with the proper mentality to go out and get the job done.

Palm Beach Pumas on the other hand arrived with only nine players and their coach, who duly pulled on a jersey and did his best to anchor the defence in a sweeper role. “What on earth am I about to watch?” Is all I could think.

Panama City lined up in similar style to the formation that beat Bradenton with only a couple of changes. Ryan Germann took Joe Nasco's place in goal and Felipe Lawall came in for John Dill in midfield to give us a more attacking style.

The match started as one could only expect. The Pirates had the lion's share of the possession and used it against a ten man team to positive effect. Felipe Lawall had an early strike glide off target in the third minute and it was the kick start the lads needed to get the goal glut under way.

Bruno Conceição bagged his first of the evening after just ten minutes, latching onto an Anteneh Lemma through ball. His pace was considerably more than the Puma's coach could deal with and our Brasilian front man coolly slotted the ball home to put the Pirates one up. CD Harris then popped up and put us two to the good with a nice shot to the top right corner after being fed a decent pass to run on to from new boy Felipe Lawall just a couple of minutes after Bruno's opener.

Ryan Germann the made a bread and butter save every keeper should pick out after a rare Pumas attack when Tommy Majek laid a square ball and Zach Peoples hit a shot to Ryan's left. This, unfortunately kind of sums up the Puma's for this match. Tommy Majek was probably good for a goal himself, but they never got anything really worth mentionable in the attacking department in the entire ninety minutes. Pirates’ defenders Tom, Dean and Matt had a fairly uneventful evening, but what else can you really expect when playing against a ten man team using their coach to make up the numbers?

What I didn't expect to see was the Puma's coach passing out after half an hour. To his credit he took ten and got back on the pitch, vocally marshaling his defense against a hungry looking Panama side.

In the forty second minute midfield anchorman Nick “ski” Mroczkowski, ventured forward and had a poke at goal. His shot was parried but it fell at CD's feet and two seconds later it was three nil. Half time came as a blessing to the Pumas who, being fair to them had managed to keep the score line down to just three goals, and they were brave enough to keep two men up front. They deserve more than a little bit of credit for this.

The second half started as the first ended, Anteneh Lemma got himself another couple of points by bashing the ball into the onion bag to make it four nil on fifty minutes. Right after the goal Coach Elliot brought on some fresh legs and gave Landon Cooper forty minutes of game time in place of Dean Sorrel anchoring the back three.

Three minutes after CD Harris completed his hat trick with a dinky effort and Coach Elliot decided to give him a well earned rest. He was substituted right afterwards for Trey Gregory. John Dill, Clay Watkins, John Lesko and Kenny Robinson then came on for Twoboys Gumede, Felipe Lawall, Tom Wharf and Anteneh Lemma respectively to keep our lad's legs fresh for the following game on Saturday evening.

Kenny Robinson looked hungry from the moment he got onto the pitch, got involved straight away on the left wing and set up Conceição for his second of the evening with nice curling through ball from thirty yards out that Bruno couldn't help but score from.

Ten minutes later he grabbed his second assist by passing to John Dill who drilled a nice shot from the edge of the box. The Puma's keeper had no chance as the ball picked up a fleck or two of paint from the far post and slammed into the net. He'll be pleased by the effort.

Ahmad Ihmeidan somehow managed to head a cross over the bar from six yards out, he did almost everything right, nodding the ball down as you should if you can get up over it, but he got too much on the header and the ball bounced over the crossbar. I think everyone in the stands were standing and cheering only to end up holding their heads in disbelief! At the end of the day no one can say the game the game wasn't entertaining!

Player Ratings

GK - Ryan Germann He had a nice quiet evening between the sticks and coped with what little the Pumas had to deal his way. - 6

CD - Matt Watts Didn't have a great deal to do, but he got forward when he could and made trouble for the Pumas when possible. 6

CD - Dean Sorrell Solid and dependable for his 50 minutes. 6

CD - Tom Wharf Much like the other defenders, he was reliable for his hour on the pitch. 6

DM – Nick Mroczkowski Looked a little lacklustre in the last ten minutes but by the Pumas were spent. Otherwise he was on his game and applied his trade well. 7

RM – Twoboys Gumede was hungry and played well. Was a little bit unlucky not to come out of the game with a few personal points. 7

CM – Ahmad Ihmeidan Seemed to get frustrated with himself in the second half and needs to apply his obvious technical talents when it matters most, but he did well and linked the midfield and attack. A little more polish on his game and quick one touch passing will produce many assists without doubt. 6

CM – Felipe Lawall I think Felipe is still striving to find his place and whilst he is tricksy and clearly skillful he needs to concentrate on making his passes count and ensuring his shots make the keeper work much harder. You can't win a football match by yourself. By virtue of his assist... 7

LM – Anteneh Lemma Tenacious. What more can I say? He works hard and does his best to keep the ball moving. He should be pleased with his showing tonight. 8

FC – CD Harris. Does what strikers have to do. Make yourself space, run the channels and make the best of what you're fed. A hat trick is testament to him doing all of that with aplomb. Would have got a nine if he was on the pitch for the full ninety. 8

FC – Bruno Conceição. With Bruno upfront you know that he's going to capitalise on his chances and make chances for his strike partner and the midfielders supporting the attacks. Two goals, should have had four. 8


Landon Cooper. I like Landon, he only knows one way to play. He plays hard, tough football, is difficult to get by and fair with it. Thinking of calling him 'Chopper'. 6

Trey Gregory. Looked lively, got stuck in and was good money for his time on the pitch. 6

John Dill. Always plays well with Ski, grabbed himself a crowd pleaser goal. 7

John Lesko. Solid performance. Strong in the air, relentless with his tackles. 6

Clay Watkins. As usual we saw thirty minutes of hard graft. Works better on the left with Matt Watts, but you can be sure of a solid performance wherever he plays. 6

Kenny Robinson. The lad wanted to play, make chances and have fun. He did all three, nabbing two assists in the process. 8

Game Two

Panama City Pirates vs Palm Beach Pumas @ Gavlak Stadium 7pm Saturday June28th

The Match

Panama City Pirates 5-0 Palm Beach Pumas

Goal Harris (Lemma) 30
Goal Harris 41
Goal Lemma (Harris) 44
Goal Ihmeiden (Watkins) 58
Goal Conceição (Lawall) 69

The Pumas turned up with a full team this time, their coach was on the bench and I was looking forward to a more competitive match.

The Pirates made a few changes, which you have to do when playing two games back to back. And with the Pumas posing not much of a threat Aaron Ingham was given his second outing between the sticks.

The game took a long time to warm up, and by a long time I mean thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of cagey play, some of the players seemed to be trying to do everything themselves or in the face of an orange and white wall, passing backwards to keep possession rather than risking an adventurous through ball or deep cross.

The change came in the thirty fifth minute when Ahmad Ihmeidan came on for John Lesko who being fair looked uncomfortable in an unusual right midfield position. Anteneh Lemma switch to the right wing, livened up straight away and set up CD Harris for an unmarked header and he duly scored his fourth goal in two matches.

Just after the goal Pumas countered and Tommy Majek got the better of Tom Wharf making just enough space to have a crack at goal but pulled his shot and instead picking up the ball out of the back of the net Aaron Ingham got breathe a sigh of relief and take a goal kick. In response to this the Pirates pushed on, earned a corner and CD latched onto a lazy headed clearance and blammed the ball to the opposite corner and wheeled away celebrating his second of the evening.

Just before half time Panama kept the pressure on and CD Harris laid the ball off to Anteneh Lemma who proceeded to slam a half volley from about twenty five yards out, past the completely helpless Pumas goalie and into the back of the net. This was easily the best goal I have seen the Pirates score this season at home. So the first half ended with a surprising bang following a very slow build up. Even though the stats will show twenty shots on goal by the pirates it is a little deceptive as to how the game was actually going.

John Dill replaced Trey Gregory at half time and took up his customary place next to Ski for the second half. Play continued with a more even tempo, seeing the Pirates looking and probing the Pumas' defence for chances and the Pumas counter attacking when ever they could. In truth the Pumas never looked like scoring even if most people would agree Majek was good for a goal and because the Puma's improved second half display it took a good while for the fourth goal to arrive. During this spell 'Ski nearly scored with a long shot that deflected off a defender and looped up high, but the goalie got back t his line just in time and sent the ball over the bar for a corner in acrobatic fashion.

In the fifty eighth minute Ryan Rogers came on for Twoboys and Clay Watkins replaced Lemma. This was the spark the Pirates needed and with his first few touches on the ball Clay caught the defence completely unaware and sent a sublime ball through for Ahmad Ihmeidan to run on to and was on his own for a one on one with Pumas' keeper, Carlos Bernal. Ahmad deftly chipped the oncoming keeper very calmly and everyone was pleased with the effort.

CD made way for Bruno Conceição and Landon Cooper came on for Dean Sorrell soon after and more chances looked to be in the making. Both CD and Dean had played well but when you're four nil up in the second back to back match it's always wise to give your guys a rest.

Palm Beach tried again to get on the score sheet and plied a little spell of pressure on the Pirates but it was dealt with adequately and Felipe Lawall sent the ball across goal and Bruno's shot was a little close to Bernal and was almost saved, but he did enough to see it into the goal. A little scrappy on the finish maybe, but they all count and I've seen far worse! Five to the good of the Pirates' cause!

The game carried on with the Pumas working hard to make a chance and Landon Cooper gave it to them with a strong challenge on Tommy Majek that every Pirate supporter, myself included, applauded. Unfortunately the Referee did not agree and gave him a yellow card for his efforts. Aaron Ingham stepped up to the plate and did his job well saving the shot that followed. I think this save killed the Pumas' spirit somewhat and the rest of the game pattered along at an easier pace.

Bruno should have scored after running onto a good through ball but he was perhaps a little eager to apply a net breaking shot and pulled the ball wide of the goal.

The game ended 5-0 and whilst it is flattering to the Pumas' in general a win is a win and it is so difficult to turn up and play the same team twice in two days and maintain the discipline and motivation required to compete adequately. Hopefully this will act as a good base for the Pirates to work on over the next two weeks in preparation for another double header in two weeks against the best team in our league, the Central Florida Kraze.

Player Ratings

GK – Aaron Ingham. Not bad, gifted the Pumas with a free chance in the second half but he can be pleased with his general showing. 6

CD – Matt Watts. Another decent, if quiet outing by the Englishman. 6
CD - Dean Sorrell Reliable once more for his hour on the park. He looks to be a good acquisition despite my worries about height in the heart of defence. 7

CD – Tom Wharf. Needs to work on concentrating on the game and not arguing about decisions not going his way, but another good performance from the domineering centre half. 6

DM - Nick Mroczkowski Played consecutive 90 minutes and he can pleased with his general play, but he'll want to step it up when the Kraze come to town. 7

DM – Trey Gregory Another decent 45 minutes, not shy of the tackle and always looking for a good pass. 6

CM – Twoboys Gumede Didn't really control the middle of the park tonight but did what he needed to. His touch is improving with every game as is his understanding of his defensive responsibilities. 6

LM Anteneh Lemma Could have played the whole game but he definitely earned a rest tonight. Superb goal and nice cross for the opener. 8

RM John Lesko. Despite a couple of very threatening runs up the wing he was clearly out of position. Did well considering this. 6

FC Felipe Lawall Should be disappointed with his game. Despite the assist on Bruno's goal he could have came away form this game with three or four assists and a goal of his own after catching the keeper off of his line. I think that things will improve in the last four games as he settles and gels with the team. Some nice tricks and passes were tempered by some poor decisions and what looked like a dive in the 50th minute. (Though I will be perfectly happy to retract this if I'm told otherwise by Felipe). 6

FC CD Harris Blah blah blah... awesome this solid that... Two goals and an assist? Seriously, the guy's feeling right at home up front! 8


John Dill – The lad just carries on getting the job done, and I like it a lot. 7

Ryan Rogers He got involved, made a few good runs on and off the ball but he'll be disappointed that he didn't take his time in the face of goal. 6

Clay Watkins Blam! Perfect start to this introduction, then he carried on and worked hard both defensively and supporting the attack. He should be pleased. 7

Landon Cooper Another good show. I'm sure anyone who plays against us and sees him on the pitch doesn't want to see him charging in against them. Fearsome. 6

Bruno Conceição It's not easy to come off the bench and be as hungry for the ball as Bruno was. There was a good deal of off the ball running from Bruno that every kid wanting to play up front should be studying. Great channel running earned him a goal, he also rattled the crossbar and should have bagged himself three and he knows it. 7

The Good.

Preparing for these games is nigh on impossible. Motivating your players properly when you're expecting to win more than comfortably can end up with a nightmare result very easily. Coach Elliot can be proud of his players and staff in the way they went about things off of the pitch more than on it. Yes we expected 6, 7..15 goals and a clean sheet but they don't just happen. I'm sure this will only be a benefit to the team in general over the next two weeks as they prepare for the Kraze.

Anteneh Lemma. These two games have shown everyone in Panama that the lad plays a solid game. I had a brief chat after the game, praised him on his goal and he was very humble. I really like to see that. Confidence isn't just being cocky, it comes from knowing you can perform when it counts.

The team knew that we needed six points and duly delivered them. On top of that I didn't see anyone on the pitch giving the Pumas any flack, but they went about their task in a very professional manner. We all know that the Pumas aren't that good at the moment and they are struggling, but most of us have been there and I was happy to see the way the Pirates conducted themselves over the two nights.

The Bad

In light of all the chances made I think that not enough of the chances are being put on target. According to the stats we had twenty seven shots on goal. We scored five and the keeper is listed as making ten saves that leaves twelve chances left begging. Make the keeper work, he may be a little dodgy and if you follow it up you can grab an easy goal off the rebound.

I'm not sure if it was John Dill or Dean Sorrell, but someone left the wall on a free kick to cover an oncoming player on the right wing. NEVER leave the wall, point him out to another player to pick up or be ready to rush out if he is passed to. The keeper's job is use you to cover one side of the goal. If you leave it and they score on that side of the goal guess who gets the blame?

The Downright Ugly

Passing, decision making and the first touch are critical to attacking midfielders. You have to have a good understanding of your position on the pitch in relation to the players you're giving support. Dwelling on the ball, trying make something from nothing or showboating for the crowd isn't going to get the ball goalward bound. Take the easy ball, call for a one-two if you want it, if you're behind the guy making a run let him know. Don't give up on the play, know your limitations, and more importantly the limitations of those around you so the balls going nowhere turn into half chances and the half chances develop into clear cut ones.

So next up are the Kraze. They are sitting pretty at the top of the league and can afford to drop a few points. They face Bradenton on the 2nd, the Pumas on the 7th, then us twice and the Academics again. They only need a result against the Pumas and if they lose that I'll eat my very nice hat. Bradenton need to beat the Kraze to keep their chance of winning the league alive, if they don't and we can get at least a win and a draw from the Kraze matches we stand a chance at finishing third though I think fourth is a more realistic target. Make it happen lads!

Please visit www.panamacitypirates.com for the latest events and join me on the Panama City Pirates thread at www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=688218 and give your opinion, I love discussing the game, it’s my passion.

- The Englishman

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