‘They have shown desire when called upon to win games and also played some excellent football in attack’ tribute to Bishop Laney, Ely, winning team
- Credit: Archant
This Easter weekend our football and education players from Bishop Laney sixth form college, Ely, headed to Manchester to take part in the Manchester cup for their first ever tour.
A 15 man strong squad eagerly awaited our transport on Friday and after a four hour drive we arrived at our fantastic accommodation a mile away from Old Trafford. After team building activities and a hearty meal the boys headed to bed for a good rest before the tournament begun on the Saturday.
Following a lie in on the Saturday morning we headed to the venue with excitement growing amongst the boys.
The tournament was made up of six teams with each team playing each team once in the group followed by a final for the top two placed sides we would play 3 x 40 minute games each day and with the temperatures soaring we knew that each member of the squad would have a key role to play over the weekend.
The message to the boys was simple and one of consistency, we were here to win but we wanted to do it our way by retaining possession of the ball and playing with freedom and creativity all over the pitch.
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Game 1 v Camberley Lost 0-1 – Not the start we were after as our opponents from Surry were quick out the blocks taking an early lead, the game lacked rhythm and chances were few and far between, but for goalkeeper Tom Upshaw the margin of defeat could have been higher.
If we were going to qualify in the top 2 of the group we realised that there was now no room for error and going to be a huge challenge for the squad.
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Game 2 v Association Ajial De Sport (Morocco) Won 6-0 – This was much more like it as from the kick off the boys went at their rivals, with some harsh words stinging their ears we dominated our African opposition creating and scoring numerous goals to claim what in the end was an easy 6-0 victory.
It was great to see the confidence come back to the boys as we looked forward to our next fixture with Rochdale who run a programme similar to ours.
A special mention must be made to winger James Ellison who scored the goal of the day with an outstanding finish from the edge of the box into the top corner of the goal.
Game 3 v Rochdale Advanced Development Squad Won 2-1 – Our final game of the day looked like another tough test against a technically good and well organised Rochdale side.
Matty Harris soon gave us the lead latching onto a rebound to finish with aplomb. With the boys looking confident Rochdale struck back to bring the scores level midway through the 1sthalf. With the game now starting to open up good work down the right hand side from Adam Everett saw him earn a penalty and hand us the chance to go in ahead at the break.
First team penalty taker Ben Harnwell stepped up, despite a good save from the keeper Ben reacted quickest to give us the lead. The second half saw the boys show some real character in their game and although our usual fluency was lacking from our play we saw the game out comfortably sending us into day 2 in a commanding position.
This was epitomised by Jake Garner who organised the back 4 tremendously from left back, winning a number of crucial tackles and also passing forward with quality.
Following a long day the messages were simple to the boys back at the hotel, eat, rest and recover.
With conversations turning to the next day the boys remained focused and showed real professionalism getting themselves to bed early following another excellent meal of Chilli con carne provided by our outstanding hotel at the Holiday Inn Manchester West.
Day 3 followed a similar pattern, another rile in for the boys and we headed for the venue at around 12 o clock. The boys were determined and focused as we arrived at the venue knowing that a win in our final 2 group games would give us a great chance of reaching the final.
Game 4 v Tetra Brazil of South Africa Won 4-0 – This would be a tough game against an academy from South Africa who were taught to play the Brazilian way and had some really talented players in attacking positions.
This would possibly be the boys best performance of the tour repelling all attacks at them and through Matty Harris, JJ Tinde and Lewis Perry we remained a constant threat on the counter attack. Skipper Matt Stratton started the scoring and this was followed with goals from Matty Harris, JJ Tinde and midfielder Josh Sparrow, a really professional performance from the boys keeping us in the hunt for a top 2 finish.
Game 5 v Tring Athletic Won 3-0 – With the table looking tight we went into our final game of the group knowing only a win would guaranty us a place in the final, with the heat continuing to soar and the boys getting more and more fatigued with every kick of the ball this was going to take a big effort especially with Tring still in the hunt for a final place. Goals from Matty Harris and JJ Tinde put us in a great position.
We should also mention our 3rdgoal which came from our skipper Matt Stratton, picking the ball up in his own half Stratts stepped into midfield evading 2 tackles before unleashing a simply stunning drive into the top corner from 30 yards out, seeing Matt do such a thing is fantastic and exactly what we are looking for our players to do.
This result saw us safely into the final where we would face the only team to defeat us over the weekend in Camberley. Camberley had a 100% record and were yet to concede a goal over the weekend. The boys however were now on fire and embraced the challenge with relish.
Game 6 Final v Camberley Won 1-0 – The final kicked off at 5.20 pm, as is often the case this was not the prettiest of games with neither side wanting to make a mistake. At half time the scores were locked at 0-0 with little being created from either team. At half time we asked the boys to take risks and play our brand of football, early in the second half good play from Charlie Boorman down the right hand side saw the ball switched in field to Josh Sparrow who off two touches played in Warren How at left back, Warren drove at his full back and played in Matty Harris who got to the by line to cut it back for Tino Mbavarira to apply a smart finish to see us take the lead. From here Camberley pushed players forward and following good spells of pressure had us pinned into our own half, a special mention must go to are back line of Lewis Perry, Matt Stratton, Toby Peters and Warren How who stuck to their task.
They were backed up by goalkeeper Tom Upshaw who made an outstanding save down to his right to deny our opponents an equaliser. With the seconds ticking down the boys shut down their opponents and at the final whistle the celebrations begun.
With the boys delighted and jubilant it was fantastic to see them lift the trophy, each player contributed and played their part in the success of the tour and rightly so the boys enjoyed their celebrations on the bus and back at the hotel.
All weekend the players have conducted themselves in a fantastic manner, they have shown desire when called upon to win games and also played some excellent football in attack.
Off the pitch the behaviour was of the highest standard and it was great see how the boys got on with each other throughout the tour, this is our first tour but it certainly will not be the last, all the boys should be very proud of their efforts’.
And my personal thanks to our head coach Clive Taylor for all that he has done to help us achieve this.