Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Chaos in the last few minutes – letting in late goals

By David Clarke

davidscwnewEarly last season I was frustrated with my players because they were throwing away matches by defending too deep in the last few minutes. We were playing 25 minutes each way and, for every minute except the last 10, we were the better team. Looking at my notes at the time, I was having trouble keeping my players focused on their formation for the whole match. Instead, as they neared the end, the team began to just clear their lines.

Lone attacker too deep

My lone attacker in the 2-3-1 formation we played was so deep, he was playing in our penalty area. So, when we won the ball, there was no outlet and it kept coming back until we eventually buckled under the pressure.

This is a common problem you see all the time, even at the top level of the game. If you are winning 1-0, why not just stop the other team scoring? It’s something the Italian clubs and national team have always been famous for.

However, to do this, you need to play a different formation. I found it difficult during the game to persuade my attacker to leave his deep position and take opposition players away from our goal by staying near the halfway line. In his young mind, he was helping the team win the game.

Makes sense to play the same way

There was no point in shouting at him during the game. I had to wait until training and explain it to him. Eventually, over the course of a few weeks he, and the team, realised that if we were winning 1-0 by playing a certain way, then it made sense to play that way until the final whistle.

However, we had a few tears along the way. My centre back took my instructions literally that we should be attacking in the last 10 minutes.

With a couple of minutes to go in one game, he charged up the wing with the ball and went past one, past two, past three… then he lost ball and the counter attack caught us out!

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