Saturday 12th January @ Longlevens Primary School, Gloucester
Gloucester 4 – 1 The Ton (Ellis Jay)
With Jack Frost very much present in the air, there were some sceptics amongst us who thought this historic day would never happen. However, it did and what a day it was! The Ton had the privilege of becoming the 119th different primary school association to play against Gloucester Primary Schools’. The word ‘privilege’ probably doesn’t do our host justice! The lads from The Ton were treated like bona fide professional footballers from the moment we were greeted at the entrance to the school to the moment we were waved away with our bellies full and with a whole collection of memories that will stay with us forever.
Starting line-up: (4-4-2) Alex; Sam, William, Jayden, Michael; Cedric, Ellis-Jay, Josh S, Sahib; Bailey, Callum
On a beautiful pitch, Gloucester kicked off the first 20 minute third with The Ton looking to close them down at every opportunity. It was a cagey affair with both teams carving out the slenderest of chances here and there. However, a defensive slip up cost Erdington and Saltley dearly. Under pressure from the Gloucester attacker, The Ton cleared the ball into the centre of a congested pitch rather than out for a throw or down the channel. The Gloucester striker did not need a second invitation and pounced to rifle home the ball and give his side a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately The Ton did not learn from their mistakes and gifted their opponents another opportunity when they once again failed to clear their lines. Although this time round the Gloucster forward had to work a little harder for his goal but boy did he do just that. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area, he curled home a left footed shot that hit the inside of Alex’s right hand post and went in.
Lineup at the start of the second third: (3-5-2) Alex; Jayden, Sam, Michael; William, Darrelle, Josh, Sahib, Ethan; Callum, Karter
During the first break I asked the lads to cut out the silly defensive errors and to just keep it simple at the back. We also knew that we needed to get a grip of the game in midfield, therefore we sacrificed a defender for a midfielder and switched from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 formation. This worked in terms of offering us more solidity but the footballing gods were still not looking down on The Ton! An innocuous shot from distance somehow found it’s way past a terribly unlucky Alex. However, these things happen in football and I know for a fact that Alex will win The Ton more points this season through his world class saves than he costs us. Mistakes happen…such is life. At the end of the second third we were 4-0 down but far from broken! To Alex’s eternal credit, he later pulled off two saves that would have been right at home on Match of the Day!
Lineup at the start of the final third: (3-4-3) Alex; Jayden, Ethan, Sam; Eliis-Jay, Darrelle, Josh, Callum; Bailey, Cedric, Karter
Determined to win the final third and take some pride home from the match, we went all out attack, once again switching to a more attacking formation. With Sam marshalling the back line superbly, Jayden knew he could venture forward safe in the knowledge that Sam had things covered at the back. This is exactly what he did at the start of the final third before slipping Ellis-Jay through for the winger to score his first of the season. The Ton were in the ascendency and determined to score more. Moments later Bailey struck the crossbar following an audacious overhead -type kick and The Ton were convinced that more goals were coming their way. However, despite their best efforts that had to settle for just the one.
To play like they did during the final third, when 4-0 down, says an awful lot about this bunch of lads. They could have easily given up and accepted defeat lying down but that’s not The Ton way to do things! They rolled up their sleeves and dusted themselves off for one more effort and deservedly won the final third, even if overall victory evaded them on this occasion. It’s that kind of effort that makes me proud to manage The Ton.
What a day! What an experience! All of The Ton would like to say a huge thank you to Bob at Gloucester and all of his team, players and supporters. You all made us feel welcome from the very moment we arrived to the second that we left. I know that the lads will remember this day for a very long time. The day that The Ton went nationwide! Thanks once again Gloucester!
In terms of Man of the Match, it was a tough call and I couldn’t decide between two players…so it will be shared this week! Both Sam and Jayden were great at the back and threw themselves into every challenge like their life depended on at. What an example to set!
Up the Ton!