There’s no need for the Cavs to push the panic button, of course; they still topped the league table at the final whistle, and they’re in very little danger of missing the second round of The Island Games. Still, the way they’ve struggled to create offence, and lost their footing at the back in moments, is cause for concern.
“What’s the clean version to say it?” Cavs boss Tommy Wheeldon Jr. joked when asked what his club was missing on Sunday.
“Desire. We were just very average in the first half, and I think the second half we showed that little bit of fire. Once we have that you can start getting hold of the ball and working it into good areas. I thought we were very, very soft in the first half; I think we only won 40 per cent of our duels.”
He added: “We committed what I feel is two errors for their goal because of poor defensive connection, and then we weren’t brave enough to really open them up a bit. We started going a little bit direct.”
Wheeldon was right about the duels statistic; for the whole game, they won just 42.7 per cent. They were out-possessed 52 to 48 per cent. Their passing accuracy over the match was just over 75 per cent, although it was severely dragged down by their 68.7 per cent in the second half as they tried more long balls and direct attacks.
The Cavs were also undone by mistakes at the back in the first half; Marco Bustos’ opening goal was created from nothing as Pacific picked off a poor touch from a defender.
It’s definitely worth considering that Cavalry, who played on Thursday, really had only Friday to properly train ahead of Sunday’s contest, while Pacific had a few more days with their previous match going last Tuesday. As a result, Pa-Modou Kah’s side looked a little more prepared to take on one of the league’s top sides.
“They’ve had a full week to prepare for this game and they did it very very well,” Wheeldon said. “They stretched us from side to side. We didn’t deal with their wingers well, we didn’t slide our back three across and cover in behind.
“We didn’t respond and react accordingly. Credit where it’s due, they out-coached us and we hold our hands up to that.”
But, they soldier on. Cavalry, still learning how to recover from a string of defeats, will have a full week to rest and develop a plan before they play their last test of the first round next weekend against York9 FC. It’s possible that, by then, they’ll have clinched their top-four position thanks to results from other sides midweek.
They will control their own fate though if it comes down to it. One game left of their initial seven, and Cavalry will have to climb back on the horse, so to speak.
“It’s down to us,” Wheeldon said. “Our fate’s still in our hands and it just comes down to which guys are gonna roll up their sleeves with us and get back at it.”