Bridgewater School reached the dizzy heights of the AJIS U11 Cup Quarter-Finals last week. Following on from a successful qualifying tournament in September, Kirkham Grammar School were pulled out of the hat to take on Bridgewater for a place in the semi- finals.
The opening exchanges of the game were understandably nervy and the more experienced visitors seized upon this to take an early lead. Bridgewater rallied swiftly and started to assert themselves on the game and their approach play was particularly good. Unfortunately, a variety of chances came and went, whilst the Kirkham goalkeeper was proving to be quite an obstacle too. A break away attack from a Bridgewater corner saw the ball swept into back of the net to put the hosts 2-0 down.
Much to the team’s credit, heads did not drop and Bridgewater pressed to get back into the game. A drive from Alfie was again saved by the Kirkham keeper, but with the ball falling at Harrison’s feet a goal seemed certain. Somehow, the shot was scrambled away and a golden chance disappeared to get back into the game. However, the team are resilient and the subsequent corner was beautifully floated in by Matteo and was met by a stunning header from Alfie. The first half ended with a 2-1 lead for the visitors, but Bridgewater were in the ascendancy going into the break.
Knowing the next goal was crucial, Bridgewater dominated the early stages of the second half. Both teams had plenty of the ball, but both defences were in excellent form. Harper was magnificent at the back, whilst Matteo was a more than able centre back partner. Midway through the second half, Bridgewater got the equaliser they so richly deserved. Josh and Alfie combined in midfield to prod the ball towards goal and Freddie pounced to poke tie ball beyond the advancing keeper. With eight minutes to go, it was all to play for and either team could have won this one.
Bridgewater continued to try to play football, but there is more than one way to win a football match. Another long ball from the Kirkham keeper was to prove to be the undoing of Bridgewater. As the ball dropped onto the edge of the area, the ball ricocheted off an unfortunate Bridgewater defender, wrong footing keeper Oliver A and nestled into the bottom corner of the goal.
The distraught Bridgewater team pushed forward for an equaliser in the remaining minutes. Josh dribbled and weaved, Freddie chased down the nail upfront and Alfie put in shot after shot. Today was not going to be our day however, and this was typified by a breakaway goal with the last kick of the game to give a relieved Kirkham Grammar a 4-2 win. The squad was disappointed but they will learn much from the game moving forward and with so many talented youngsters coming through, the sporting future is bright for Bridgewater.