On Wednesday 1st May, the U9 football team travelled to the home of Sale FC to challenge Lady Barn House and Forrest Park for the ISA North 7 a side title. The triangular format saw Forrest Park kick off proceedings with a resounding 4-0 win over Lady Barn. This meant that neither a loss for either Bridgewater or Lady Barn would virtually hand the trophy to Forrest Park.
Bridgewater began slowly against Lady Barn and found it hard to establish any rhythm in the game early on. Alfie tried his luck from long range on several occasions but found the opposition keeper in good form. Just before half time, Lady Barn broke down the left, the resulting cross was not cleared and the striker’s shot fired past Luca for a deserved 1-0 lead.
A defensive reshuffle at half time saw Molly brought into the action and this appeared to settle the team in all areas of the pitch. Toby looked more assured at the back, giving Alfie the license to roam further forward. Josh swapped his midfield role with Tommy to go up front and this also meant Bridgewater were able to commit more players in attack. Midway through the half, Alfie found Tommy free on the edge of the area and his shot was deflected into the back of the net for the much needed equaliser. Knowing they had to win to stay in the competition, Lady Barn swarmed forward. Luca B, Jackson, Toby and Molly all put in terrific tackles to keep out the opposing forwards’ attacks, whilst Luca C was solid in the Bridgewater goal. Much to the team’s relief, the final whistle blew at 1-1, a result that gave Bridgewater an outside chance of lifting the trophy.
A heart to heart in between the games seemed to galvanise the team and they went out against Forrest Park with nothing to lose and everything to gain. From the kick off, Bridgewater looked a totally different team to the first game. Jesse, the captain of Forrest Park and scorer of a brilliant hat trick against Lady Barn. was driven back into defence by the dominating performance in midfield of Alfie. Molly and Toby were impassable in defence, whilst Luca B, Jackson and Josh were bundles of energy in midfield. Up front Tommy caused havoc in the Forrest Park defence every time he had the ball.
When the midfield started to tire, Anton and Alex provided fresh legs, whilst Joel replaced Tommy and continued the threat on the Forrest Park goal. By half time Bridgewater had taken total control of the game and with goals from Tommy and two superb long range strikes from Alfie, were 3-0 up. Forrest Park threw everything at the Bridgewater defence to try and get back into the game, but found Molly and Toby once more in brilliant form. As the opposition poured players forward, this left chances for Bridgewater at the other end and Joel went close on three occasions to settle the game. In the end, an excellent save from an Alfie free kick was tipped onto bar, but Josh was on hand to put the ball into the back of the net to finish the game off.
A 4-0 victory over favourites Forrest Park was a fitting way to end the final. This Bridgewater team has had a phenomenal year in basketball, cross country and football. They have become the first team at this age group to become the ISA Northern Cup winners and they have achieved it with hard work, commitment and style. The team were presented with the trophy by Doncaster Rovers FC captain Tommy Rowe and the celebrations began with a rousing rendition of “Championes!” Well done to the team on their special achievement and we look forward to seeing how they can develop in the months and years ahead.