featured, Match Reports

Throwback Thursday- October Floodgates Open!

With the national cup draws for next season now live we take another look back to the 2019-2020 season when October provided an absolute goal feast on our travels.

What would end with a crazy 4 game multi train journey around England started relatively close to home with a Friday double header at Perton school in Wolverhampton with games against Priory School in both the U12 and U13 Small Schools Cup.

It was one win each at the final whistles with goals galore, Perton’s U12 side winning 7-1 while the attack minded Priory U13 team hit a dozen to win through to round two.

The goals showed no signs of drying up early the following week as Wolverhampton Grammar School and Wrekin College shared SIXTEEN goals in a crazy game with the Shropshire school winning 9-7 to progress in the U13 Small Schools Cup!

Then followed our first cup upset as Thomas Telford fell to St Peter’s Catholic School in Solihull, despite battling back from 4-1 down to get back in the tie at 4-3 it was the home side who held their nerve to edge into round two of the U16 Elite Cup.

That week ended with a drive to Rugby as Moulton School were the visitors to Harris CofE Academy and they returned to Northampton with a 2-0 win in a wet U12 round two matchup.

The weather had not improved much by Monday as a train ride to Hereford saw St Mary’s RC High School host crosstown rivals Whitecross in the U14 Boys competition with a penalty shoot-out needed to decide the winner after a tense 1-1 draw, the visitors taking the spoils 2-0 on spot-kicks.

The following day saw me walk to a cup tie just 3 miles or so away, Ormiston Forge and Kenilworth School going toe to toe in the U12 Boys Cup but the visitors put on a blistering display of attacking football in the opening half to take a 4-0 lead which they held for the remainder of the game.

A double header in Shrewsbury followed with Shrewsbury School winning 8-2 at home to Staffordshire’s Blessed William Howard School in the U14 Boys Cup and then a walk across the River Severn took us to Belvidere School as they held on for a 3-2 win at home to Smestow School in the U16 Boys.

Up next was a trip to Sandwell Academy in the U18 Boys Cup as they won 3-1 at home to Kingsmead School and move into round three and the following day we saw Madeley Academy overcome Whitecross Hereford in the Girls U14 Cup with a 5-1 win in the afternoon sunshine.

That Friday feeling came in the way of a soaking wet U13 Boys tie in Liverpool with the game in doubt due to heavy rain all afternoon but credit to both sides for putting on a show as Maricourt Catholic High School hit 9 on the road to defeat St Hilda’s CofE High School.

Monday morning saw us set off on the biggest trip so far as we headed for a 4 day, 4 game trip here, there and everywhere!

We kicked off with a train to London and in the shadow of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament it was St John’s from Enfield who progressed in the U13 Small Schools Cup with a 6-0 win over a valiant Oasis Academy South Bank side who battled throughout against a tough opponent.

Then we had a long overnight train ride to Cornwall on the sleeper train although the carriage became a drying station for my clothes and camera gear as we trundled through the darkness!

Rain greeted our arrival into Penzance but the howling wind and rain could not prevent the Cape Cornwall and Plymouth School of Creative Arts tie taking place and it was the home side who progressed into the U15 Small Schools Cup on the back of a 4-0 win.

Back on the sleeper train to London we went and then onto Norwich next morning for a trip to Wymondham College and their U18 Boys Cup tie with Thurston Community College which ended in a 5-2 win for the home side and a place in round three.

Our final train ride of the month saw us venture into Lincolnshire with Carre’s Grammar School our destination as they hosted Healing Science Academy in round two of the U13 Boys Cup with the home side 7-0 winners courtesy of some excellent long range strikes that put them firmly in control in the opening half.

What a month, a staggering 16 games and 110 goals in total – this would be the biggest goals per game ratio of the whole season and only in the second month of matches and without doubt the most miles I have travelled in one month for schools football.

I can’t wait to get started again in September…!

A huge thank you to our official photographer Garry Griffiths for writing this report and travelling around the country to provide amazing coverage of schools football. If you would like to view or purchase any of the pictures in this report please contact ThreeFiveThree photography.

ESFA National Finals, National Competitions

ESFA Boys Under 14 Inter County Cup Final- Kent SFA 1 Sussex SFA 2

Our curtain raiser for this season’s representative competition finals kicked off on Wednesday, with an excellent match between two young southern sides at Premier League Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium. 

With the sun beating down the conditions inside the stadium were very hot and that showed in the opening exchanges with both teams passing the ball in a controlled manner and preserving energy while probing for an opening. 

Kent’s Jacob Safa found space on the left inside 4 minutes but his cross was cleared by Kai Birchley and with both defences standing solid, that was about as close as either side came to troubling the goalkeeper. 

Sussex skipper Matthew Hayden made a magnificent interception to clear a through ball in his own box midway through the half, denying Jimmy Heasman a chance to score although the Kent forward was adjudged to be offside so any goal would not have counted – not that Hayden knew that when making the tackle. 

Charlie Clayton’s cross into the Kent box caused a nervous moment for Carter Sullivan in the Kent goal with Hayden Furner closing in, but the keeper smothered the ball with the forward breathing down his neck. 

Hayden was again leading by example as he snuffed out a chance for George Beaumont with the Kent side trying to take advantage of a 3 on 2 break, sliding in to knock the ball out for a corner as the striker lined up to shoot from 14 yards out. 

Birchley would have hoped to have done better with a header from a Sussex corner late in the half but his effort was blocked and cleared. There were signs of more space opening up with the half time break on the horizon. 

Clayton’s long distance effort for Sussex was the closest of the handful of attempts from outside the box, clearing Sullivan’s bar by no more than a foot but just a few moments later it was deadlock broken – albeit at the other end of the pitch. 

With the game edging into first half injury time Heasman played a lovely through ball for Safa to run onto and he held off the defender to lift the ball elegantly over Alfie Mansell for a 1-0 Kent lead. 

Almost instantly Sussex had a chance to equalise, a cross from Malik Mundoma was cleared by Hugo Taylor in the 6 yard box with Cian Morling inches away from connecting. The resulting corner saw Morling rise at the back post for a header but Kent’s Dean Forbes flicked the ball away with a goal almost a certainty without it. 

Sussex pressed early in the second half, putting the Kent defence under pressure from set pieces although it was Max Woodfine who almost doubled the lead with a turn and run into the box although keeper Mansell claimed the ball off the strikers toe. Space was opening up and Kent had the ball in the net for what they thought was a second but an offside flag ruled out Safa’s strike into the far corner and at the other end Morling must still be wondering how his effort from 6 yards ended up over the crossbar. 

Sussex finally drew level midway through the half, a Theo Maryon free-kick into the box was guided home by Kobe Agbude from 8 yards out and it was game on! 

Luke Staight’s long range drive flashed past the far post with 10 minutes to go and Morling had a great chance with a free header from 8 yards but he put the ball into the keeper’s arms with Sussex having a good spell of pressure. 

Maryon’s free kick from 20 yards out was deflected for a corner and when Birchley’s free-kick from the same distance drifted over the Kent crossbar it appeared penalties would be needed to decide the winner. 

However, deep into stoppage time Sussex broke forward, Mundoma played in Clayton down the right who crossed and Morling bundled home from 6 yards to clinch a dramatic last gasp victory for the south coasters. 

There was barely time for the game to re-start before the referee blew for full-time and confirm Sussex as our first competition winners of the 2020-21 season. 

Credit to everyone involved for an excellent game played in the spirit we expect from schools football, it was also great to see supporters back in the stands to support their teams and we think everyone should be rightly proud of the performances on the pitch regardless of the result. 

All that remained was for Sussex skipper and Man of the Match Matthew Hayden to collect the trophy and for Sussex Under 14 Boys to celebrate being crowned our first champions of 2020-21.

A big thank you to Garry Griffiths from ThreeFiveThree Photography for writing this report and capturing the game so beautifully. A full gallery of the game will be available shortly and shared on our social channels.