The first competition of 2020 was the Y5/6 EFL Kids Cup Football Competition on Tuesday 14th January at the Soccer Centre. This competition had been kind to us in the past, as a couple of years ago we reached the Cheshire final (from over 50 teams) and lost out to Kings Chester. It is a prestigious competition, with the opportunity of playing at Wembley Stadium for the schools that progress through the regional rounds.
We were drawn into a difficult group alongside Leighton Academy, Winsford High Street and Nantwich Academy. Our first game was against Nantwich and we got off to a nightmare start, allowing a Nantwich player to waltz through on goal and slot past a helpless Denzel Lisboa in goal. This gave us an early wake up call and we quickly got onto level terms thanks to a smart finish from Bartosz Babula from a through ball from Harvey Lindsay. Gracjan Marcinkowski put us ahead when he rifled the ball into the top left corner from distance and then Adam Wright pounced on a loose ball in the box to make it 3-1. The 4th goal was a thing of beauty, as the pass of the day from Bartosz carved open the Nantwich defence and Gracjan finished neatly. The same combination linked up to make it 5-1 as Gracjan registered a hat-trick to seal the win, however we did concede a sloppy goal on the break to make the final score 5-2. Still this was the perfect start and we’d won the easiest game on paper…
Game two would be different as we faced off against a talented Leighton Academy. Having watched their opener we made a few tactical tweaks to try to contain them and hit them on the break. The defence of Harvey and Joshua Watling were rock-solid, however the front 3 worked so hard, they didn’t have too much to do. Bartosz showed his quality by putting in a top defensive midfield display, winning nearly every ball and showing good strength. Gracjan and Adam put in a shift around Bartosz and provided us with a real threat on the break. We soaked up any pressure and then managed to sneak a goal- good battling from Adam forced the ball into the path of Bartosz who smashed the ball home! We kept up the work rate, with Logan Cunningham adding some fresh legs into the midfield and held on for a magnificent victory. Without doubt this was the performance of the season so far!!
Two wins put us into a great position, but bizarrely we still needed to avoid defeat by two goals to qualify in the top two. The last game against Winsford saw the weather turn and we were playing against the wind and rain. This made life really difficult for us and without doubt gave Winsford the advantage. We started positively and had a couple of half chances on the break, before Winsford scored after the initial shot had been saved by Denzel. 1-0 was still good enough but the game was now all Winsford and we were backs to the wall!! We threw bodies in the way of shot after shot but with minutes remaining Harvey was just beaten to the ball and gave away a penalty. If Winsford were to score it, we would go out! Denzel then made himself a hero as he tipped the penalty over the bar to keep the game at 1-0. We still needed some great defending from Harvey, Joshua and Bartosz to repel Winsford but we hung on to qualify for the finals on Monday 20th January!!
A huge well done to the squad for 2 excellent performances and a real battle in the final match. We went through all of the emotions football can offer and I was delighted by how hard they worked for each other. Player of the day was tough, but after narrowing it down to two I felt Bartosz just edged it over Gracjan, as he had his best day in a Brierley shirt by far.
Squad: Harvey Lindsay (c), Logan Cunningham, Bartosz Babula, Gracjan Marcinkowski, Adam Wright, Joshua Watling and Denzel Lisboa (GK).
Thank you to the parents who came to support the boys and to Mr Birchall for his help on the day.
Roll on finals day!