February has been a wonderful month for football at Bridgewater, with teams from all ages involved in various games and competitions. The girls kicked the month off with a terrific display at the AJIS U11 Festival at St Bedes, proving to be difficult to break down in defence and creative in attack. They were unlucky in the group stage not to qualify for the semi-finals, having held the eventual winners of the event to a draw.
On Valentines Day the U6s fell in love with tournament football, making their debut in the Bury Grammar Festival. With only Zak and San making the squad from Prep 2, the team largely consisted of the Prep 1 players. As such, being a year younger they can all be proud of their performances and can certainly look to the future with confidence. In total the team played five games, winning one, drawing two and losing two, including the last one in a penalty shoot out for seventh place.
Sam scored the winner against Bury Grammar B to spark scenes of jubilation, whilst Oscar was the one player to convert his penalty against Tottington in the shoot out. Jacob put in at least one man of the match displays in goal, with Oliver C helping out in defence. Henry brought energy into the midfield alongside Jazz, with Sam and Oscar providing moments of magic as they dribbled past defenders in games. Mason probed up front, with San and Zak adding energy and enthusiasm to each game. Overall, it was a lovely day for the boys and they are already back in training ready for their next match which for them cannot come soon enough.
After the half term break, the U9 and U11 teams had the task of both beating The Firs in the ISA Cup semi-finals. With the games being played at Bridgewater it was hoped that home advantage would make a difference for our teams. The U9 game kicked off first and from the opening exchanges, Bridgewater swamped the opposition goal with a string of attacks. In fact, after two minutes the score was already 3-0 in favour of the home team! Restrictions were immediately put in place to ensure a cricket score was not run up and the team responded to this challenge superbly well. As well as to reduce the score line, the aim of this was to get the team to play football out from the back, through the midfield and to encourage switches of play. The praise received from the visiting teachers as well as the result was a ringing endorsement of how well the team try to play their football. With Luca C rarely troubled in goal and Molly, Toby and Jackson in control at the back, it was left to the rest of the team to score the goals. In the end, the game finished 11-1 with Alfie (4), Tommy (3), Josh (2) and Luca B all getting their names on the score sheet. An impressive performance all round and the team can look forward to playing in the Finals Day later in the term.
The U11 team had the unenviable task of having to follow the U9 game. This was to be a more even game with both teams cancelling each other out all over the pitch. In the end, it was three minutes of mayhem that was to be the undoing of the Bridgewater team. With the game heading for 0-0 at half- time, an unlucky ricochet, a brilliant free kick and a misplaced pass put Bridgewater 3-0 down. Oliver A in goal had had an inspired first half and the visitors on the balance of play deserved to be marginally ahead.
Much to the team’s credit, after a pep talk, a tactical reshuffle and a more positive attitude, the boys turned in a scintillating second half performance that should have given them extra-time at least. Freddie and Lukee scored the goals, but a series of chances also went begging to leave Bridgewater pondering on what might have been. A 3-2 loss in the end, although the second half performance from the team and in particular Harper, Matteo and Paul ensured that heads were held high and they could look forward to the next game.
The next game was in fact the next day, as both teams travelled to St Mary’s, Crosby for a challenge match. The U11 team had almost a carbon copy of the game 24 hours earlier! Oliver A impressed in goal and kept the score down to 2-0 at half time. Once again, following a rousing team talk and positional changes, Bridgewater came out a different side and went after the home team with far more determination. Freddie scored early on to give the fight back the kick start it needed. Lukee and Paul provided energy from the wings, whilst Harper, Alfie and Owen tackled with far more intent as the game wore on. With the last kick of the game, the impressive Matteo seized on a defensive error to slot home an equaliser that prompted celebrations that could be heard back in Worsley!
Meanwhile, the U9 team continued to show why they are a side to be admired and respected. Dominating possession from the start and with an early strike from Josh to go 1-0 up, the only surprise was the half- time score line of 1-1. However, in the second half the team powered ahead with additional goals from Luca B, Alfie and a wonderful hat trick from Jackson. Once more, Luca B had little to do in goal as Toby and Molly quashed the rare St Mary’s attacks. Alfie and Josh are becoming a formidable pairing in midfield, ably assisted by Luca B and Jackson. On another day, Joel would have had a double hat trick and overall the team look balanced and determined. With the AJIS 7 a side football festival at Cheadle Hulme on Wednesday, the U9s will march into the next month with confidence. A great month of football for all our teams – well done!