Lions Continue to Progress
By Stephen Tabb
Youngsters win the last 15 minutes!
If performances were measured in improvement levels, the Lions would be storming this season. With many of the players playing only their first or second ever 11-a-side match on a full pitch, the Sils Lions took to the field against a similar sized and aged Stratford team.
This week was very different to last week, in that the 10 and 11 year olds from Sils were not matching up against lads 5 years older than them, and whilst the final score makes the match look a little one-sided, it was far from it.
The opening exchanges were quite even, but ultimately Stratford won the match as they had two outstanding players - one lad at the back who was incredibly fast and ate up the ground whenever Sils had manufactured some space through some really nice passing passages of play; and one up front, who scored four - two of which were reverse stick shots fired into the top corner of the net and would have graced any adult match. Amy Garside and Ollie Williams worked really hard in the first half down both flanks, with Kheya Ballentine-Brain causing problems up front with his pace.
At half-time it was 3-0, but the Sils were not to be deterred, and their second half performance was excellent - the three goals for Stratford came through individual brilliance from the Stratford striker, but other than that Josh Bowley in goal made some cracking saves, whilst Oliver Harris began to take control of the middle of the pitch, supported by some excellent tackling and distribution by Erica Adams and Fergus Montgomery. Whilst Stratford at one point were 6-0 up, the last 15 minutes was dominated by Sils. Alex Delaney worked hard up front to create opportunities, but the first telling moment came when Jonnie Carter, having played in goal in the first half, and made some great saves, switched to midfield in the second half, found space in the middle of the pitch, and then found Kheya Ballentine-Brain down the inside right channel. Kheya turned inside, and when everyone was expecting a pass, he fired a reverse stick shot into the net, which led to cheers from the gathering masses of supporters!
Moments later, Flo Collins charged down the right side of the pitch, and her excellent pull back found Ollie Williams to score the home side's second. With Ben Chalkley now slotted into defence and supporting the excellent Oliver Harris - who took the Man of the Match award for his assured tackling and distribution - Sils were able to push forward looking for more goals. The Stratford keeper made a couple of saves from Williams and Ballentine-Brain, and so the score finished 6-2.
Sils had won the last 15 minutes, and had learnt to play the ball wide when under pressure, not stand next to each other so much (so they can cover the large pitch better!) and make sure they hit their passes hard. These lessons can only help as they continue their season in a few weeks after the 1/2 term break. Well played everyone!