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St Peter FC Under 18’s returned on Saturday after a very strenuous but rewarding 4-day visit to Kent to play three top teams. Winning all three games was a tremendous achievement but the real satisfaction came from the manner in which they played. Rui Marques and his fellow coaches, Karl Benest and Rogerio Soares had been working on the fitness and the style of play for some time and this was the opportunity to put all the hard work to the test.
The first game, arguably their toughest, was played just three hours after arrival at their hotel. Playing Gillingham FC Under 18 Academy side on Gillingham FC’s first team training pitch at Beechings Cross, they produced some outstanding high-class football and an abundance of energy and total commitment in shutting down the opposition. Taking the lead after 12 minutes through a spectacular 25 yard special from Hugo Pereira, they looked comfortable in preventing Gillingham with a clear sight of goal. It was going to take something special to give the opposition a goal back and that occurred when minutes before half time some good interplay resulted in a delightful pass out to the left wing who cut in side and hit a fierce shot into the far corner of Josh Jehan’s goal. St Peters heads could easily have dropped and they might have feared the fitness levels of a team training 5 days a week would put them under increasing pressure. The second half commenced with the score 1-1 and for the first 10 minutes Gillingham showed renewed energy and a high level of determination without creating any clear-cut chances. St Peter then gradually came back strongly playing some delightful fast and creative football. After 58 minutes, Kacper Smilek, on in place of James Carr, saw the Gills keeper (an English International) off his line and struck a brilliantly spectacular goal into the keeper’s top left corner. This seemed to shake Gillingham who began to lose their cohesiveness, whilst St Peters raised their game to a higher level. The work rate of the team was incredible and they comfortably saw out a highly competitive, fiercely fought battle to earn a well-deserved historic 2-1 victory over the professional clubs talented team.
It was difficult to pick an outstanding player as every one of the squad put in an outstanding performance of both skill and determination. One individual who his team mates recognised as being particularly outstanding was full back Olavo Soares.
The following day the squad enjoyed a low-key coaching session with FA Coach Kevin Bremner. In the evening they were the invited guests of Gillingham FC Chairman Paul Scally. They were provided with two Hospitality boxes to watch the Gillingham v Sunderland game.
On Thursday evening they travelled to Chislehurst to face Glebe FC Under 18’s. They played on a perfect pitch in the Clubs new Stadium. Any fears that the supreme efforts of the game against Gillingham would take its toll were soon dispelled. St Peters controlled the game from the start with a quite outstanding display of one and two touch football. Toby Ritzema scored in the 7th minute to the keepers bottom left hand corner. The Reds continued to play at a very high level and it was no surprise when Sol Solomon brilliantly beat 3 men got to the bye line and pulled the ball back to Ben Le Rougetel to strike firmly home from the edge of the area. After 27 minutes Toby Ritzema hit his second with a fine strike from 30 yards. Glebe were putting in some good work of their own and caused Josh Jehan to make a couple of very good saves.
However, Glebe were finding it difficult to adjust to the pace of the game and it was not really a surprise when Sol Solomon scored the goal his play deserved, to take St Peters to a 4-0 half-time lead. Glebe as expected came out with a different game plan and renewed energy but 10 minutes into the second half Sol Solomon scored his second to resume the pattern of the first half. The standard of football being played by the team was at an unbelievably high level and it was from a fantastic 6 pass move that Ryan Marcinko swept home for St Peters 6th. Hugo Pereira and Jack Lowery added further goals to give St Peter a resounding 8-0 victory over a shell-shocked Glebe FC. The plaudits of the Glebe coaching team and their Chairman were most generous, regarding the quality of the football the team had played.
The team moved on to Aylesford for their Friday evening game against K Sports . Played under the lights in their attractive stadium on a 3 G pitch. K Sports were last season’s winners of the Kent Reliance Under 18 Youth Cup. They are a highly rated team and they started the game in style matching the high class passing game of the Reds. After 10 minutes the heavens opened and was to persist for most of the game, however this did not have any adverse effect on the quality of the football. The game was end to end being played at a fast pace. Both teams had their chances with Jack Lowery getting in a first-class header from a fine cross from Pereira saved brilliantly by the K’s keeper.
Just before half-time a surprising defensive error gave the home side a 1-0 lead which they were to take into half-time. With the rain bucketing down St Peters players stayed on the pitch to take their briefing from Rui Marques and his coaching team.
When the game restarted it was St Peters who seized the initiative with full back Rhys Thomas skilfully hooking the ball to the keeper’s top right corner. Having fought so hard to get back on terms, it was a disappointment that just two minutes later, an uncharacteristic poor clearance out of defence and a level of indecisiveness enabled the K Sports striker to hit a fine curled shot from the edge of the area inside Jehan’s left hand post.
The 2-1 deficit seemed only to galvanise the St Peter team, playing some aggressive delightful football they were now in the ascendancy and it was nothing more than they deserved when Hugo Pereira went passed his marker and struck a 20-yard shot to bring the Jersey team level. It was now St Peter who were increasingly enjoying the bulk of possession and after 69 minutes an outstanding individual run by full back Olavo Soares going past 3 defenders getting to the bye line and cutting back inside to strike a fierce shot across the keeper into his far corner. 3-2 to St Peter, any fears that K Sport could grab an equaliser were dispelled when another spell of fine football resulted in a corner from which centre back Jack Moyse headed home to give St Peter a 4-2 lead with just 7 minutes to play.
There was absolutely no way that the Reds were going to allow a very good K Sports team to get back into this game. The team were overjoyed to clinch a 4-2 victory to give them a hat-trick of wins over three of the very best teams in Kent. They can be very proud of their achievement, they were a credit to St Peter and to the quality of Jersey football. The Coaching team of Rui Marques, Karl Benest and Rogerio Soares can take a great deal of pride from the fitness and organisation of this squad. Coach Rui Marques said “We have been preparing for the coming season for the last 10 weeks and the whole squad has really bought in to what we are trying to achieve. We are extremely proud of the commitment shown by the players, they have worked tirelessly to develop their strength and endurance whilst also learning a new style of football. Winning these games against very strong opposition has created real momentum going into the new season. Team spirit is high and the chemistry between the players, was clearly evident on the pitch”. St Peter FC will of course keep their feet on the ground and realise they have not won anything yet, as the season is just about to get under way. The competition in Jersey is very strong and a lot of hard work and concentration will have to be delivered if the end of the season is to be considered as successful as this pre-season tour.
The St Peter FC Squad:- Joshua Jehan, Rhys Thomas, James Carr, Jack Moyse, Kasper Smilek, Myles Byron, Olavo Soares, Tommy Boarer, Toby Ritzema, Ben Le Rougetel, Jack Lowery, Hugo Pereira, Sol Solomon, Andre Dias, Ryan Marcinko.
Coaches:- Rui Marques, Rogerio Soares, Karl Benest.
The final accolade came from the Hotel management who volunteered to state, that this team was “extremely well behaved, polite and courteous. They were a pleasure to have in our hotel ,we would welcome them back at any-time.” St Peter FC, a credit to Jersey, both on and off the pitch.
For further information:- Brian Foulser e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 01534 851075