Underdogs impress in Midlands Finals
Next-generation Lions put in a series of first class performances and return to Solihull with heads held high and proud parents !
A remarkable day out in Nottingham for the Under 10 Boys in front of a crowd of more than 150. Sils defied the form-book to finish "mid-table" in the Regional Finals and show why they were worthy (albeit last-minute) participants in this prestigious competition.
14 teams from across the Midlands (including Rugby, Beeston, Sutton & Burton) competed initially in two leagues of seven to determine the running order for the subsequent knockout phase. Games were seven-a-side, and 10 minutes long.
The Sils squad of 9 played their hearts out from the start and managed three well-deserved victories in the league phase (against Derwent, Lichfield & Newark). They were extremely unlucky to lose 1-0 to Stourport, and pushed Rugby harder than any other team (Rugby's words, not mine) before losing 2-0. Clinical finishing from Chesterfield meant that Sils were comfortably beaten (isn't Chesterfield almost in South Yorkshire ? Ed). A bizarre and unexpected set of results in the remaining round of league matches meant that Sils finished fifth, when fourth or higher had seemed to be on the cards. An amazing performance given the quality of the opposition.
And then to the knockout phase in which both of the matches went to nerve-jangling penalty flicks. However, a combination of coolly-taken goals, and excellent saves from Josh Bowley, meant that Sils beat Worcester, before doing the double over Newark.
Umpiring the games meant that I found it difficult to keep track of goalscorers (listed at the end) so apologies for the inevitable errors. There were so many highlights that I don't have room to list them all, so here are a handful :
1. Matthew Hulbert's "exocet" strike against Lichfield - no one saw the ball but everyone heard it thump through the backboard !
2. Josh Bowley's penalty save heroics and his triple save against Rugby - it all happened in about five seconds. The Rugby forwards and fans behind the goal were absolutely stunned by his reaction saves
3. Matthew Cowling's menacing runs down the right wing, especially against Worcester.
4. Fergus' goal in our opening game against Derwent. It started the afternoon on the best possible note and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
5. Alex Delaney's mazy midfield runs and excellent tracking back. Marked the Derwent winger out of the game.
6. Dominic & Oliver's defensive partnership - solid teamwork and some great distribution of the ball from 16s.
7. Marathon Man Kheya, who ran and ran and ran. Involved in so many key moments, both defensive and attacking.
8. Captain Dom's correct call of "heads" before deciding that Sils would strike first in the penalty shoot-out against Worcester.
9. Freddie's penalty against Newark. Cool under pressure.
Many thanks in particular to Darren for his invaluable support in coaching the team whilst I was umpiring, to Aleks for sorting admin during the day, and to Alex's mom for washing the shirts after the game !
Old Sils 1 Derwent 0
Old Sils 0 Stourport 1
Lichfield 0 Old Sils 1
Old Sils 2 Newark 0
Old Sils 0 Chesterfield 3
Old Sils 0 Rugby 2
Old Sils 1 Worcester 1 (Sils won 2-1 on penalty flicks)
Old Sils 1 Newark 1 (Sils won 2-0 on penalty flicks)
Goalscorers : Matthew H x 2, Freddie, Kheya, Oliver, Fergus
Penalties : Matthew, Oliver, Freddie, Fergus