Yr 5 + 6 v St Ann's Heath
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The young and inexperienced Year 5 team have been on a sharp learning curve this season and this was by far their best performance of the year. They have come a very long way in their football development since September and we now look a more organised, confident, solid and skilful outfit all-round. After conceding a goal in the previous game within 12 seconds, we talked before kick-off about concentration from the first whistle and the boys carried out this instruction perfectly. Right from the start we were competitive, getting the ball wide to Tom and Keelan as we went on the attack. Michael and Lennan battled away for possession in the midfield and Charlie was always a potential threat up front.
At the back we looked far more solid with James in goal behind Joseph and it was clear that this was going to be an extremely tight game. How would the deadlock be broken? An individual mistake by a defender? A moment of brilliance by an attacker? Unfortunately it was a somewhat baffling decision by the very youthful referee which saw a penalty awarded to St Ann’s Heath midway through the first half. Despite getting both hands to the shot, James could not keep the ball out of the net and St Ann’s went ahead.
Undeterred, the boys kept their spirits up and continued to work hard in search of an equaliser. Tom had a great shot pushed away by the goalkeeper then moments later, a super run and cross by Tom was almost turned in at the far post by Charlie with the ball brushing his toes as he slid in.
Despite being 1-0 down at half time, our second half performance turned out to be the best display of the season. We showed incredible commitment and desire to grab an equaliser but on the day we simply had no luck. Charlie saw a shot go narrowly wide, Michael hit the bar with a shot and to complete a hat-trick of near misses, Tom also struck the bar with the goalkeeper well beaten. I had to wonder if maybe the boys had walked under a ladder on the way to the pitch, such was our bad luck! Never mind, they say luck evens itself out over a season so we are due some soon.
There were so many encouraging signs in this game and I was extremely proud of the team. They are progressing every game and this is all any team can do. If we continue with the same levels of effort, belief and get that little bit of luck, I’m certain a victory is not far away.
Won 3-1 (Joseph Perea, James Darch, Michael Smith)
What have Cardinal Newman Year 6 football team and Manchester United got in common? Not a lot you may say to yourselves…but you may be wrong. Both teams play in red, both teams regularly feature identical twins in the side, both teams have developed a handy habit of scoring late winning goals and so far this season, both teams remain undefeated in the league.
This was another fantastic performance by the Year 6 team playing against a very strong and competitive St Ann’s Heath side. On another very small pitch, space was at a premium and it wasn’t easy to play our usual free-flowing style, but as always we remained solid and committed throughout. We also passed the ball well on occasions and scored 3 very good goals. We went ahead midway through the first half when a long throw by Ethan was flicked on by Michael and tucked away at the far post by Joseph. We then pressed forward for a second but were caught on the break as a long ball found their powerful striker who slid the ball past Ollie into the net. More good football before the break couldn’t edge us back in front so at half time it was 1-1.
The second half saw the intensity raise a notch as both sides went in search of a winner and with 7 minutes to go a lovely passing move ended with a shot by James Darch which deflected into the net off a defender – although slightly fortunate, it was no less than we deserved for the way we kept pressing forward in a relentless tide of attacks. With only 2 minutes to go we lost the ball on the edge of the St Ann’s box, they broke swiftly and only a fine save with his feet by Ollie kept our slender lead intact. With parents on the sidelines anxiously checking their watches, Ethan drove the team forward and after a little scramble in the box, Michael forced home our third goal. Sighs of relief from the watch-checking parents followed and we were able to ease our way through the final moments of a terrific game.
It takes many different qualities for any team to remain top of any league and this group of boys are showing all of them. Every member of the squad is making a huge contribution to each game and it is this team effort that keeps our noses in front. Although not mentioned in the goal-scoring exploits, David was excellent at the back where he kept the St Ann’s Heath striker fairly quiet with some great challenges on the ground and in the air. On the right side of midfield James Navarro was a constant threat with his pace and trickery and it is marvellous to see him back in such good form. When needed, Louis came off the sideline to continue the good work James had put in for the previous 28 minutes.
Football is a team game where all individuals need to do their own little job and work together – so far this team have proven they have learned this key message. With 3 league matches to go, the big question remains…can they maintain it longer than Manchester United?