tournament success!

Soccer - U11 A VII Tournament at Finborough (A), Saturday 2 March 2013

Holmwood travelled to Finborough for their inaugural U11 7-a-side football tournament.  The boys played the day before against Elm Green and gained a positive 3-0 victory, so spirits were high.  The bus departed Holmwood at 8.25am and, to my surprise, we arrived at Finborough at 9.05am, some 40 minutes before briefing.  Each boy spent the first 10 minutes eating a banana for energy and then we trudged off to set up base for the day.  A very handily placed gazebo, between the two pitches in play, became our home for the next 5 hours.   After a vigorous warm-up, and Mr James’s welcoming talk, it was time for our first match.   

Match 1 vs South Lee

The first  group match was  against South Lee, a team we should have played earlier in the term.  Holmwood lined up in their new formation of one centre defender (Alasdair M), two wing backs (Nick R-P and Jed L), two centre midfielders (Oliver A and Charley F-S) and one striker (Jude S).  This meant that Tom C was our sub.  Holmwood had the better chances throughout the game, but failed to convert their chances.  Callum O made a good save to keep the score at .0-0.

Match 2 vs Cambridge International School (CIS)

Holmwood again dominated the game but unfortunately could not add the finishing touch to what was some excellent passing football.  Jed L and Nick R-P played particularly well in their new roles at wing back. Charley F-S was his usual energetic self, putting in lots of tackles and showing great determination, whilst carrying a slight knock from the match the previous day.  Final score 0-0.

Holmwood then had a two game rest before their final deciding group match.  During this time, South Lee played CIS and Oakfield B, a team from London.  South Lee won both of these matches, meaning that a draw or win in their next game would result in Holmwood finishing second in the group and qualifying for the quarter finals.

Match 3 vs Oakfield B

The boys made a strong start with Alasdair M being tasked to mark their tricky striker.  The team played with great desire and skill and it was only a matter of time before Jed L broke the deadlock with a right footed shot from a good 18 yards which passed through a crowded  penalty area and somehow eluded the Oakfield goalkeeper.  Holmwood continued to  apply constant pressure and it was Charley F-S who put the result beyond doubt.  A shot from the right at  a tight angle into the far left hand corner.  Final Score:  Holmwood 2 Oakfield 0.

The boys had qualified in second place without conceding a goal.  This meant that they would face the winners of group B in the quarter finals.  The matches would now be slightly longer, 7 minutes each way to encourage a result.  If the score finished level, it would be decided by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.  Our opponents in the quarter finals would be the hosts, Finborough A team.

Match 4 vs Finborough A

The match was a close encounter. Charley F-S went down several times with knocks to his sore knee.  Callum O performed well in goal and, with some reminders, Alisdair M  kept goal side of his striker and defended well.  Holwood looked to work a clear opportunity, but the final pass was lacking and some good defending denied any real clear chances.  On the one occasion Finborough got through on goal, a finger tip save from Callum O kept Holmwood’s record of not conceding a goal intact.  As the final whistle went thoughts turned to who would take the first three dreaded penalties.  After the coin toss, it was confirmed that Finborough would take the first penalty.  Callum O was doing his utmost to put off the Finborough penalty takers. However, his tongue sticking out and big open mouth and eyes did not prevent them from scoring their  first.  Nick R-P was the brave soul who volunteered to go first. The advice of low and in the bottom corners would hopefully see Holmwood through this difficult challenge.  Nick stepped up and hit his penalty to the Finborough keeper's right.  However, the host keeper guessed correctly and made a good save - advantage Finborough.

If Finbourough scored their next penalty, they would be in a very strong position. Callum was watching the ball like a hawk, he bravely stood his ground and saved the shot to give holmwood a chance.  Oliver A was our next penalty taker.  Unfortunately, a slip as he struck the ball meant it was a weak shot down the centre of the goal which the keeper saved easily.  Their captain walked up with confidence with the chance to win the shoot-out.  He struck the ball well, but it went several feet wide.  This meant that captain for the day Charley F-S needed to score to keep Holmwood in the tournament.  That he did, with a very well struck shot.  This meant sudden death.  Callum proceeded to save the next two spot kicks but, unfortunately, Jude S and Jed L both had their shots saved too.  It was now down to the sixth penalty each.  Finborough stepped up.  It was a sweet strike, however, it flashed over the crossbar.  Alisdair M stepped up for our chance to win the game.  He paced the ball and, with great skill, smashed the ball into the top left hand corner of the goal to spark wild scenes of celebration.

This set up a semi final against South Lee, who had beaten the runners-up of group B.  Normally you would not face a team from the same group until the final.  However, the boys were confident that they could improve upon their 0-0 draw in the group stage.

Match 5 Semi Final vs South Lee

The boys continued to play well.  Jude S put Holmwood into the lead, applying the final touch after a goal mouth scramble.  Oliver A scored the goal of the day for Holmwood to put the result beyond doubt.  The ball bounced nicely some 5 yards outside of the area.  It was begging to be hit - and hit it he did - unleashing an unstoppable shot that dipped and swerved away from the South Lee keeper into the far top corner.  What a goal!  The defence of Alasdair M, Jed L and Nick R-P stood strong, meaning that the boys had reached the final without conceding a single goal.

Match 6 The Final vs Ipswich Prep

This was undoubtedly the toughest match of the day.  Ipswich had several very skilful and tricky players. The boys battled for their lives showing great determination, desire and spirit.  Ipswich caught us on the break towards the end of the first half and calmly slotted the ball past Callum into the corner of the net.  The second half saw the boys continue to work their socks off, but they could not create any clear scoring chances. As the final whistle went, the boys slumped to their knees in disappointment. However, they should be very proud of their achievements. Only conceding the one goal in their six matches was a fantastic feat. The boys came together as a team and played with skill, awareness, desire and, most importantly, good sportsmanship.

Well done to Ipswich for winning a very well organised tournament, I certainly had a great day, and felt very proud of the whole team.  A final thank you must go to all of the parents who turned out to support in the bitter cold.

Mr Lesiak, Sports Coach