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On Thursday 2nd November the girls Predator tournament was hosted at the Littledown Centre for Year 5 and 6 primary school children in Bournemouth. 20 schools entered the tournament and we were drawn in a group with Stourfield, St Marks, Kingsleigh and The Park.
The attitude from the girls was fantastic from the off. There were gaps of up to 45 minutes in between our matches and the girls took the opportunity to talk tactics and watch the other matches taking place in their group. The children had been training as a team for approximately 3 weeks and the tournament was their first experience of a proper match and other competition. Each game would consist of two five minute halves.
Our first match was against Stourfield; we started brightly by creating all sorts of chances, Alice and Avie had a few early shots at goal but their defence were quick to get in the way and block all of them. The first half was coming to an end when St James started a counter attack; a few quick passes from the defence all the way up to the attack and within a couple of seconds Alice had kicked the ball over the keepers head and straight into the back of the net. 1-0 St James at half time. For most of the second half we were defending, with Amber making some good saves to deny the Stourfield attack. Then completely against the run of play Alice robbed a Stourfield player of possession and ran most of the pitch before having a shot just outside the box. It looked like it was going over but somehow the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and went in. 2-0 St James and what a way to start the girls very first tournament as a team.
After a frustrating 45 minute wait the girls were back on against St Marks; and they had won their first match 1-0, so we knew that is was going to be a close game. The first half was quite a worrying one because St Marks were a very attacking team and showed us why they had won their first game. Our defence were all over the place trying to deal with the pressure that St Marks were putting on us. Esme, Amie and Rhianna had one of the stand out performances of the tournament with the amount of defending that they produced. The second half was pretty much the same with Amber making another couple of saves on our way to a 0-0 draw. With both teams on 4 points out of a possible 6 with 2 games each remaining, this group was still wide open.
The next game was against Kingsleigh; St Marks had drawn their match so we knew a win would put us in prime position to move onto the semi- finals. Knowing that was our downfall for that match; we entered the match like we had already made it through to the semis. Kingsleigh hadn’t won a match yet so had a nothing to lose attitude and came out all guns blazing. It took us by shock and we weren’t quite ready for it; Kingsleigh had most of the possession in the first half but didn’t trouble Amber and the defence too much. Laris and Kasey were doing all they could to prevent a Kingsleigh goal and Lily was putting 100% into getting the ball in the Kingsleigh half. After sorting ourselves out during the half time break and bringing on Avie and Nell we took more control of the second half and showed signs of our performance in the first match. It was fairly even throughout the second half and then Nell played a delightful pass through to Avie who was clear on goal; she was too far for any defender to catch her and only had the goal keeper to beat, she took her shot with the all power that she had, she had beaten the keeper for pace alone on the shot. Everyone on the side line were ready to celebrate but instead of the ball going into the bottom corner like we had all thought it was going to; the ball rebounded off the post, all the way along the goal line and then rebounded off the other post and into the goal keepers arms. And that was the end of our penultimate match of the group stage. 0-0 draw going into the last match, level on points with St Marks but with a better goal difference by 1 thanks to that result in our first match.
Our last match of the group stage was against Park; all we needed to do was match St Marks result which was a 1-1 draw with Stourfield. It was a very dominant performance by the girls, they knew what was at stake and they gave everything that they had. We took the lead early on from a well worked team goal, several passes between the team before Alice slotting it in once again. We continued to attack throughout the rest of the first half, but Park were very much a defending team and dealing with our attackers quite comfortably. Then just before the end of the first half Park managed to make it all square by a rather underserving goal. During our half time talk we knew that we were through at this point but we also knew that we didn’t want to go through by drawing 3 games out 4. Throughout the whole second half it was another strong performance and that showed by the amount of possession and attacks we were producing; and soon enough our dominance prevailed by Alice scoring yet another goal. The full time whistle blew and we had done it, we were in the semi-finals.
We had been drawn against Muscliff, not a team to be taken lightly. The first half wasn’t the best from either team, sloppy passes, no real attacking presence, probably down to the nerves of both sets of girls. Half time came and we knew where we needed to improve, all three subs were made, all to try and increase our chances of getting that winning goal. For the second half we changed formation just to give us more attacking options and so that Muscliff had something else to think about. The second half was a lot better than the first, more possession, more passing, more communication and all round better team work. And soon enough everything came together and we scored. No prizes for guessing who it was; and that was it, we were in the final. The girls were ecstatic, undefeated, and only conceding one goal in our first tournament together.
Out of the all the teams that were involved it was all down to St James and our rivals St Katharine’s. Bragging rights were on the line, both camps knew how important this match was. The first half got underway and teams got stuck in. St Katharine’s started brightly with a run down the wing, simple cross and all of a sudden we were 1-0 down. St James restarted the match and within seconds the St Katharine’s onslaught began, they robbed us of possession and within seconds they were 2-0 up. The girls knew what they were in for but there was nothing they could do; come the end of the first half it was 3-0 to St Katharine’s. We knew that they were a good side and that they had trained more than us but that’s just how football is. We made our subs so that everyone had the same amount of game time. At half time we talked about the 2 AFCB under 11’s they had playing for them and how we could defend against their crosses. The second half was a lot better and the girls could not have worked harder. Amber made some fantastic saves and prevented the final score from being about 10-0! We were playing well but unfortunately we did concede another goal in the final minutes of the second half. Final score 4-0 St Katharine’s
Congratulations to all the girls for demonstrating a fantastic attitude and great sportsmanship throughout. Can’t wait for the County Finals!!
Miss Bowen, Mrs Finnigan and Mr Parkin