“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan

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Saturday 19th March 2016 @ Wolverhampton Wanders FC

English Schools’ FA/Premier League West Midlands 9-a-side Championship

 

Team: Rob, Sam, Kye, Diago, Tion, Kane, Troy, Rio, Cameron and Samim

Goals: Troy x 2, Kane, Rio and Cameron

Man of the Match: It would have been easy and justifiable to give it to every single one of the ten lads, such was the contribution that they all made. Plus to complete the day without conceding a single goal illustrates the solidity of our sensational defence. However we think it’s only right to give it to Robbo. Playing in goal can be lonely at times and very unforgiving, yet Robbo managed to ignore the pressure of the penalty shootout to save two penalties and help the lads lift the trophy!

 

Results:

Group Stage:

Erdington and Saltley 2 – 0 Harborne (Troy and Cameron)

Erdington and Saltley 1 – 0 Aston  (Rio)

Erdington and Saltley 0 – 0 Solihull

Erdington and Saltley 1 – 0 Dudley (Kane)

Semi-final:

Erdington and Saltley 1 – 0 Sutton Coldfield (Troy)

Final:

Erdington and Saltley 0 – 0 Wolverhampton (The Ton win 6-5 on pens)

 

The headline of this article sums it up perfectly. If one of the world’s greatest ever sportsmen has said it, it must be true! Yesterday’s success was down to nothing other than the ‘team’. It wasn’t about a single individual or a single piece of magic. It was down to ‘sweating the small stuff’. By that I mean the ugly stuff that victories are built on. Time and time again we chased down lost balls and turned them into a corner or a throw. Time and time again we won our aerial battles. Tine and time again we won 50/50 tackles.

Time and time again we gave more than our opponents.

That’s why we won. It’s as simple as that.

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.

 

Game One: A two goal victory over Harborne made for a pleasing start to the day. Although far from first gear, the boys scored a couple of great team (there’s that word again) goals. In previous seasons those goals might not have happened as we’ve previously lacked the selflessness that this group of boys possess.

Game Two: Despite being asked to move the ball quicker, the boys couldn’t quite reach the heights that they would later in the day, although this was possibly down to the 30 minute wait in between game one and two. Nevertheless another clean sheet and another fine goal meant the lads had done the job against Aston and claimed the three points.

Game  Three: We were now moving the ball much quicker. However this meant that we gave away possession a little more than we had during the first two games. Solihull caused us a number of problems but the lads stood firm and finished the game with a third clean sheet and their seventh point of the day.

Game Four: Knowing that the winner would top the league, the boys went and stepped it up a gear against Dudley, winning thanks to a Kane finish. By now you’ll know how the game ended…with another clean sheet!

Semi-final: 2015/16 rivals Sutton Coldfield awaited us in the last four and it was at this stage that the boys really found their flow. Battling and scrapping for everything, the lads ran themselves into the ground and left everything out on the pitch. We often talk to the lads about never losing a game due to a lack of effort and they took these words on board against Sutton, giving it 110%. The only goal of the game came from Troy but it was the defensive solidity of the team that earned us a place in the final.

Final: Squaring up against a very different Wolverhampton team to the one that we’ve played at any other point in the season, the boys knew they would have to find a similar performance to the semi-final if they were to lift their fourth piece of silverware of the season. With the defence keeping the Wolves’ number 12 at arms’ length, the attack worked away in the final third, creating a few chances that went agonisingly wide. As the ref blew for full-time we felt we had had the better of the game and went into the lottery that is penalties full of confidence.

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Before the shoot out we asked the boys to sort out the takers between themselves. Kane, Troy, Rio and Cameron all scored their penalties to mean the score was 4-4 after the first 8 expertly taken penalties. Enter Robbo. Diving to his right, the Gunter shot stopper tipped the ball over the bar which meant we were in the driving seat for the first time in the shoot out. Agonisingly, Samim’s penalty went narrowly wide to throw the tie wide open once again.

Caught on the spot, the lads realised that they hadn’t considered who was going to take the sixth penalty! That meant Kye “volunteered” (although he knew nothing about it!) and slotted the ball away to level the scores at five pens apiece.

With the tension bordering on unbearable, the unflappable Robbo stepped between the posts, knowing a save would make him a hero. Once again diving to his right, he got down low to claw the ball away and put the championship back into our own hands.

Volunteering in a similar fashion to Kye, Sam stepped up to smash the ball past the Wolverhampton keeper and bring with it utter jubilation!

 

So far in 2015/16 we have competed in seven  competitions – winning four and finishing as runners-up in the other three. That record speaks for itself and shows the value of hard work and good old fashioned team work.

 

I often end these reports by saying I couldn’t be prouder of the lads. One day I might actually mean that. Yet just when I think the lads can’t do any better, they go and do just that.

I hope the day when I couldn’t be prouder never arrives!

 

Up The Ton!

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