The U11s travelled to Cheshire today more in hope than expectation. Taking on one of the giants of the local independent schools, the team knew they had a mammoth task on their hands. With an agreed 9-a-side format to be used, this suited Bridgewater more as we could set up with a more solid 3-4-1 formation. However, the key to staying in the game was always going to be that magical ingredient, “hard work”.
In the early stages of the match, the hosts tried to assert their authority and Harper, Lukee and Owen all had to make crucial last gasp tackles. Oliver A made a vital save at the feet of The Grange forward and as another shot went wide, Bridgewater began to grow into the game. With Matteo, Paul, Oliver B and Freddie rising to the challenge, the team started to create their own chances. Half way through the half, Lukee won a ball in the edge of the Bridgewater area and fed Paul. Paul side-stepped a tackle and played a sublime 30-yard pass to Harrison, who outpaced the defenders and rammed the ball past the hapless keeper.
The goal gave Bridgewater renewed confidence and moments later, almost doubled their lead. A Freddie corner was met on the volley at the far post by Oliver B, but the ball crashed off the outside of the post. The Grange responded with a chance of their own and it was a tremendous challenge from Harper that secured a 1-0 half time lead for Bridgewater.
The second half proved to be one of the best games of football either team had been involved in in a long time! The Grange poured forward, driven on from the midfield by captain and Stoke Academy player Joe. Olive A tipped a ball round the post from a corner, whilst captain Owen led by example at the back with a series of important blocks and tackles. With ten minutes to go, The Grange pressure finally paid off, as a fabulous dribble and solo run from Joe was too much to stop.
Bridgewater refused to lie down however, and they went in search of a winner too. Freddie played in Harrison who narrowly shot wide, whilst moments later he saw a fabulous chance, brilliantly saved by the opposition goalkeeper. Another attack brought a chance for Craig at the far post, following great work on the wing by Harrison. There was just enough time for The Grange to try for a winner, but once more the big tackling from Matteo, Harper, Lukee and Owen proved to be too good to break through.
The final whistle came with the score at a very fair 1-1 and a deserved draw. The referee, both coaches and the watching supporters all applauded both teams off the pitch. This was a great game of football and Bridgewater can be extremely proud of their performance today.