Yr 6 v Cleves
Won 2 – 1 (James Navarro, Ethan Lee)
Year 6 team crowned League Champions 2010 – 2011!
Well, after a couple of weeks debate, it’s finally been decided…Cardinal Newman Year 6 team are officially better than Manchester United! Three days before United’s unbeaten league record came crashing down last weekend at Wolves, we were performing superbly to defeat St James 6 – 1 to maintain our record and this week we faced up to our toughest test yet as we hosted perennial favourites Cleves. Could we keep the run going and wrap up the league title was the big question being whispered on the touchline as we approached kick off?
This was always going to be a very tight, competitive game. Cleves have an excellent team and they knew they had to win to maintain their league title chances. They arrived very early to prepare and consequently started the game very strongly. Indeed, the first half largely belonged to the visitors in terms of possession and territorial advantage as they pressed forward looking for the opening goal (helped on several occasions by our team giving the ball away a little cheaply). However, despite their pressure, we looked very well organised, very solid and in control with both Michael and David Smith displaying excellent defensive work. As a result, Ollie was hardly tested and at half time we were happy at 0 – 0.
The half time team talk centred around the need to increase our speed of play to close down quicker and to relax more on the ball when in possession with the final words reminding the boys that if Cleves did not score, we would be only 1 win away from the league title. A quick re-shuffle of the line up followed and the second half was underway.
Two minutes into the second half Cleves created a very dangerous situation down our right side and only an excellent last ditch tackle by David kept them out. Two minutes later they raided again down our right side and this time the ball was skilfully worked into the box where a midfield runner clipped it over Ollie and into the net. 1 – 0 to Cleves…hmm, this was not part of the half time plan! A minute later they once again attacked down our right side, with the Cleves number 2 really causing us big trouble. The ball was fired across the box and from only 6 yards out, the centre forward shot wide of the post. Lifeline for Cardinal Newman…and indeed, the whole game seemed to change at that point. We appeared to wake up and become completely energised whilst Cleves appeared to become a little nervous.
Suddenly it was Cardinal Newman dominating the game as we launched wave after wave of attack on the Cleves goal. A couple of great situations almost brought an equaliser before a string of corners eventually led to the precious goal we were seeking. It is often said teams need a little luck to win league titles and maybe this was ours… a cross-shot by James looked easy enough for the Cleves keeper but the ball slipped through his fingers, cannoned off the inside of the far post and flew in! Slightly fortunate maybe, but it was nothing less than we deserved for the pressure we had mounted. The game had now transformed and it was one-way traffic to the Cleves goal. Could we get a winner and seal the league on our own pitch? We didn’t have to wait too long for the answer and this time it was a fantastic team goal. Ollie released a quick throw to David who helped the ball on to twin Michael. A short pass found James Navarro who turned sharply, drew the last defender and slipped a beautiful pass into the path of Ethan who was on a typical midfield charge into the box. With the keeper rooted to his line, Ethan calmly slotted the ball into the net with his left foot. 2 – 1 to Cardinal Newman with 9 minutes remaining and we were almost there.
The second goal made it very difficult for a very brave Cleves side and we played out the remainder of the game with no scares near our goal. As the final whistle blew, the celebrations could begin as our 100% record meant we now couldn’t be caught in the race to be Year 6 league champions – a fantastic achievement!
As I have said all year, football is a team game and to win any big competition, ALL members of the team need to perform well throughout the season. No player, at any level, can be brilliant every game (although Messi gets fairly close to it!) and this means that different players will shine in different games. The key to winning this league is that even when individuals have not been on their very top form, they have still made a huge contribution and so the team has functioned efficiently. Every player should feel very proud of their contribution because everyone deserves this success. This team never know when they are beaten, they never let their heads drop and on several occasions, have actually visibly raised their game when staring down the barrel of defeat. I’m impressed because when I set this challenge to the team at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure they could pull it off. I asked them to prove me wrong and how spectacularly they have done it! Congratulations to all…Year 6 League Champions 2010 – 2011!
NB After last year’s Year 6 won the indoor 5 a side in February and this team won the outdoor 7 a side tournament in October, Cardinal Newman now currently hold ALL 3 available Year 6 football trophies. This is an amazing achievement in a district where the standard of Year 6 football is so very high and it once again proves what can be achieved with the right blend of talent, attitude and hard work. WELL DONE to all the boys who have achieved this success.
Year 6 Football Team - League Winners 2010 – 2011
Oliver Ewmett (GK), David Smith, Tom Mills, Louis McGrane, James Darch, Michael Smith, Ethan Lee (Capt), James Navarro, Ciaran Milligan, Joseph Perea