There is a change to this year’s league competition, and it’s not necessarily a good one. Because there are fewer teams in each mini-league (ours has four in total), it was suggested that we play each match home and away. This is great if teams are equally matched, but not so good when the first match is incredibly one-sided.
When we beat St Thomas More in our first match, there was little point in playing the return fixture. Three points were pretty much guaranteed and the last thing I want to do is demoralise children and turn them off playing football – primary football isn’t and shouldn’t just be about winning matches. With that in mind, I used this match as an opportunity to prepare for the future.
In a few weeks, we are due to play in the first round of the Wix Cup – a 9 a-side competition. This match gave me a chance to give Sabih a bit more game-time in the first team, and it also gave newcomer Archie a chance to experience his first ever school match. The pair of them will be essential if we are to progress in that tournament. Knowing how good our regulars are, I was going to rotate last year’s winners, and possibly play them out of position. This should have evened things up a little and given us a bit more of a challenge. And to start with, this was exactly what happened.
If you just saw the score line, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was another one-sided rout. But it didn’t start off like that at all…
The first ten minutes of the match were fairly close. St Thomas More had clearly come with a determination to be more competitive. Understandably, they were playing with more caution and had packed their defence a bit more. We created a few half-chances, none of which were taken. They put together some passing moves, which were mopped up by our defensive unit.
As close as things were, we slowly began to turn the screw and eventually the pressure told. Kieran started the scoring with a lovely finish in the top left.
Because I was refereeing, Miss Bullock made a note of our goal scorers. Ask the children and they might be able to tell you the details of each goal, but I can only tell you the order. Ollie scored a couple and Alfie made it 4-0.
It was at this point that St Thomas More scored and our clean sheet was gone. A bit of complacency? A lapse in concentration? What ever the excuse, the visitors were delighted. Anyhoo, it wasn’t long before normal business was resumed and Ollie completed his hat trick. This meant that we went into the half-time break at 5-1.
To try and increase the challenge, and to hopefully avoid another cricket score, I instructed the team to try and engineer a goal for either of our new players. This was a great idea in theory, but much harder in practice. Kieran, who was played through on goal, squared the ball to Sabih. His shot was well saved by their ‘keeper, and it fell kindly to Kieran, who could do nothing other than poke the ball into the net.
Another attack saw Riley with the ball, running at speed towards the goal. You know what? When the defence backs off and invites you to shoot, you have to oblige. He duly smashed the ball into the net to make it 7-1.
The intention to provide a goal for either Sabih or Archie was still there and was our top priority. A multitude of great dribbles down the wings and cut backs almost provided them a goal, but St Thomas More’s defence was holding firm. Saves were made and plenty of corners were conceded, but we could not profit from them. It took a while but we eventually struck gold. A fantastic bit of work by Ollie gave a chance to Sabih, who coolly side-footed the ball into the bottom corner.
The final few minutes saw the visitors get tired and rather sloppy. A poor goal kick went straight to Riley on the edge of the box. He had a simple task of passing the ball into an empty net. Ollie rounded off the scoring with another well-taken finish.
10-1 was the final score. Brilliant, but a really weird match.
Wednesday sees another home league match, against this time against Nash Mills. Who knows how this one will turn out?