The standard of football had gone up a level and we were drawn to play Black Firs, St Chad’s and Winnington Park primary schools. We opened with a really tough fixture against Black Firs, who looked like they would go far in the competition. We really struggled to get up to the speed of the game and after 2 minutes we found ourselves 1-0 down. We were rattled by this and lost concentration to many times, which Black Firs took full advantage of in a 4-0 win.
This obviously made our next group match a ‘must win’ in terms of trying to qualify in the top two and we faced St Chad’s who had also lost their first match. We were slightly better in this one, as we started to compete for the ball and put our foot in more often. We had more of the ball in this one and just couldn’t find that last pass or final shot on goal. St Chad’s took both of their chances to steal a 2-0 win, despite the best efforts of Harvey Lindsay in defence and Denzel Lisboa in goal. A defeat meant our tournament was over but we felt we had much more to give and were determined to bow out with a positive result in the final game.
We faced Winnington Park in our final match and we were on it from the off in this one. We moved Harvey into midfield to add more bite and strength and we started to pass the ball better in the final third. A great save from Denzel started a move which ended with Gracjan Marcinkowski smashing the crossbar when through on goal. Minutes later, the crossbar saved Winnington Park again, a corner from Gracjan was thumped against the bar from the head of Harvey. We kept working hard and supporting our forward players, which occasionally left Joshua Watling on his own at the back, but he did a great job in repelliing each attack. We were caught out by a great bit of individual play to go 1-0 down then as we threw everything forward for an equaliser, we lost a 2nd goal to kill off the game.
This was a tough day for the team, in a tough competition- however they did really well to win through to this round of the competition. They can be proud of their efforts, especially in the qualifying games vs Nantwich Academy and the performance of the season so far against Leighton.
Player of the day was a fairly easy one today- Harvey really tried to drive the team on and led by example throughout. We now need to bounce back and look forward to the Futsal competition and the Summer Trophy event.
Squad: Harvey Lindsay (c), Denzel Lisboa (GK), Bartosz Babula, Gracjan Marcinkowski, Adam Wright, Logan Cunningham and Joshua Watling.
Thank you to the parents who transported and supported the boys and to Mr Birchall for his help with the team.
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!
We faced Cranberry Academy at the Cumberland Arena, with a new look squad who were raring to go. The game started with Brierley on the front foot, as Bartosz Babula and Adam Wright asked questions of the Cranberry defence. Bartosz forced the Cranberry goalkeeper into a smart save and then Bobby Mellor had a good chance, but he couldn’t keep his shot down. The breakthrough came after a free-kick from Gracjan Marcinkowski ending up bouncing around in the area and Harvey Lindsay marked his first game as captain by smashing home from close range. Bobby was then unlucky to hit the post as we nearly made it two in under a minute, before we got the second goal our play deserved. Again there was a bit of a scramble after a good run and cross from Adam and this time the ball fell to Gracjan on the edge of the box. He had a lot to do, but he was able to ram the ball into the far corner, leaving the keeper stranded.
At halftime, we made a couple of changes which perhaps interrupted our flow early in the second half. We gifted Cranberry a way back into the game, when a miscommunication in defence allowed the striker to skip through and slot the ball past Travis Wilcox. We were fortunate to stay ahead due to good work from Joshua Watling and Harvey blocked two shots before Travis pounced on the loose ball just in time. With 8 minutes remaining we took the game away from Cranberry with two quick goals. The third goal came after a marauding run down the right from Gracjan ended with a wicked cross into the box. The goalkeeper made a decent save but could only push the ball onto the helpless defender for an own goal. Nathaniel Isiama Mba had a golden chance to make it 4-1 but fired into the side netting, but then made up for that miss by beating one player and shooting past the keeper shortly after. Cranberry did manage a well-taken goal on the break to make the final score 4-2 to Brierley.
This was an excellent way to start the new season- there were plenty of positives all over the pitch and we have a base to work from. At the back, Harvey was excellent and the midfield due of Bobby and Adam were full of energy. Player of the match was Gracjan who showed a cool head throughout the game and made a big contribution at both ends of the field.
Squad: Harvey Lindsay (c), Travis Wilcox (GK), Joshua Watling, Logan Cunningham, Nathaniel Isiama Mba, Adam Wright, Gracjan Marcinkowski, Bartosz Babula and Bobby Mellor.