Under 16’s up for the cup

So it was a dark, wet a windy night up at Quennevais the wind was blowing a hooly and torrential downpours. as the lads got ready we said that we would go out there and get at St Pauls from the off!

Which we did for the 1st 10 minutes then St Pauls broke on the 1st attack and scored this knocked the wind out of our sales.

At the restart I remember telling the lads to keep it tight at the back and not to worry little did I know what was coming next!

Luke Shirley was on great form he literally ran the midfield on his own almost dragging the St Pauls Team forward with their next attack they scored a second goal, to be honest we were shell shocked at this point.

I tried to rally the lads from the side-lines but I think it was that windy they didn’t hear my dulcet tone as it got caught up in the whistling of the wind that swept across the park.

Shirley picked the ball up in his own half and with his tall strong frame he began to open up his legs and went on a mazing run, on his path he took on our right midfield with ease sliding the ball through his legs to pick up the ball and drive through the heart of our defence to what I can only explain as a wonderful curling shot into the top right hand corner… a felt my heart sink and could see that the lads were absolutely devastated by this goal.

I couldn’t believe it 3 attacks 3 goals but as they say that’s football… I remember having some banter with a St Pauls support who commented on how I should concentrate on getting my team to play!! this triggered me into shouting for ever ball, I remember thinking! it was easy for someone to say this when your 3-0 up.

The only thing I could say to lads was something that every manager in this positon says to their team “let’s start again its 0-0 come on lads we’ve got to fight for everything” as I looked to the bench we had an abundance of young talent to bring on and one of our players had to come off with cramp so I put young Tommy came on and gave him a few words of encouragement as he only stands about 4 foot nothing! his job was to mark Mr Shirley who stand nearly 5 ft 10” as always young Tommy gave me the nod and off he went.

With this we made a few positional changes and asked the boys to go a little bit more direct and try to get St Pauls to play towards their own goal by dropping the ball in behind and pressing high, with this the boys started to play like they wanted it winning every 1st and 2nd ball with real determination.

We managed to get the foothold back in the game, with Tommy working fantastically with Toby in midfield being back up by our defenders and wide men.. the team were working so hard for each other.

We managed to win ourselves a free kick about 38 yards out and our left back came across to knock one in to the box, at this moment I instructed Sol Solomon to come and take the free kick with instructions to just hit the target and make the keeper work….

He didn’t disappoint, he let rip with a shot resembling a Steven Gerrard effort in the cup final at Wembley… he hit the ball with such power and accuracy that it was a truest strike I’ve seen in a long time it travelled about 2 foot off the floor and smashed the back of the net!!!

With this goal you could see that the lads had something to hang onto, the half time whilst went and we got the lads together to gather our thoughts, I could see in their eyes that they had that a little glimmer of belief… we said to them that they just had to believe in their own ability and to go out there and keep playing the way we had in the last 20 minutes….

So the boys went out for the second from the refs whistle they were like men possessed, they fought all over the pitch for every inch they could, tackles were flying in all over the shop! If my memory serves me right Sol picked the ball up and played some nice intricate football between him and Ryan the other forward he managed to get free and slot his second goal of the game … yes we were back in it … the lads were buzzing but didn’t stand on ceremony straight on to the task in hand! with shout of “come on let’s get another” ringing around the team the fight back was on!

What I watched unfold in front of my eyes was fantastic to see! a true team spirit coming from all of the lads something that we had lacked in recent weeks, we again from the kick off got the ball back and with around 5 minutes to go we burst through the St Pauls defence to score again to make it 3-3 young Sol smashed the ball passed the St Pauls keeper !!

I jumped about 10 foot punching the air I felt like id scored the goal…. I couldn’t believe it the lads had dragged themselves back into the game form 3-0 down the team were really buzzing!! Even the fans who had braved the weather were ecstatic!!

At this point I remembered the St Pauls supporter who had earlier been mocking us, so I turned to him and said … “ is that what you mean about getting your team to play” well as you can imagine his face it was a picture… lol

I also thought that Rogerio had had a heart attack whist celebrating our goal….

With the full time whistle blown we got all the lads together I remember saying to the lads how proud they should be just to get themselves back into this game.. I also remember asking them how does it feel to do what they have done their reply was what you would expect “ yes its great but come on lads let’s keep going we can win this” what self-belief they had, it was amazing.

So with the 1st half of extra time we proceeded to put on the pressure playing some fantastic football with dogged defended from everyone and the work rates from each player was phenomenal, we manage to keep St Paul in their half and got a through in, with a flick on and a knock down young Ryan latched onto the ball side stepped his marker to curl the ball, (which looked like was going wide) hit the top corner of the goal giving us the lead…. This was it we I thought the lads had got or noses in front, I remember telling them to take their time and relax.. but St Pauls didn’t give up easily.

It was getting very heated on the pitch and the ref did well to manage the situations that arose, we kept attacking St Pauls who were always looking dangerous on the counter attack! however each time they did attack our defence was that solid they couldn’t break us down.
We then got a corner Sol ran over to take it and with this he put in a fantastic cross for James to come across from the near post to head home to the back post …. “ Yes Get in there you beauty ” was ringing around, the lads had done it they had battled their way back to put some real distance between themselves and St Pauls.. with this we managed to see out the game to come away with the win.

As we came away victorious and headed back to the changing rooms I spoke to the lads and congratulated each and every one of the for showing such great togetherness, sprit and fight and that they should be proud of what they had achieved as this for me was right up there in the one of the best come backs id seen in years, It had that feeling of Istanbul 2005 about it…

As team performances go this was the best team performance of the season I can’t really give special mentions to individuals but I will..

Josh – Great Saves to keep us I the game at 3-0 down.
Callam (RB) worked tirelessly up and down all night.
Olavo – Fantastic defensive display, great work ethic, led by example never give up attitude.
Jack – awesome as always leading by example defending like a beast.
Olly- strong as an ox on the ball great attitude run all day long.
Callam R – did really well, worked his socks off.
James – great on the ball great work ethic – fantastic goal
Toby – Fantastic enthusiasm in the middle of the park, great awareness
Hugo – what can I say work rate superb, skills determination, fantastic as always
SOL – simply sublime finishing, great work ethic, tracking back, leading by example.
Ryan – worked tirelessly for the cause and got his rewards with a goal.. fantastic as always
Tommy – Outstanding, grafter, midfield general! likened to Didi” Hamann for his role in the comeback like in Istanbul
Alex – Good display, worked hard on his debut.
Rogerio – a fantastic 10 press up’s
Over all grit, determination, hard work, skill, belief, but most of all togetherness as a team…

As Klopp would say : BOOOOOOOOOOOM

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About Solly

Academy head coach,18's + 13's Manager, JFA Referee, dad of Lola and Sol, married to Jilly Ann Top Bloke who does it for the love of the game. #weareredandwhite