The football season finally got under way with the U11 team in action at King’s School in Macclesfield. Ideally, the team would have had a warm up game or two before playing in the AJIS Preliminary Cup, a four-way tournament to decide whether teams go into the main draw or the plate competition. Facing the hosts King’s, favourites Manchester Grammar School and St Mary’s, Crosby, Bridgewater were by far the smallest school at the event. Nevertheless, the team had high hopes of doing well and qualifying for the main draw.
First up was MGS and Bridgewater started brilliantly. David and Josh pressed the defence and forced a mistake. The ball broke to Reagan on the right who calmly laid the ball into the path of Alfie, who slotted home expertly. Bridgewater dominated the opening exchanges and MGS were clearly shaken. Unfortunately, as the game wore on the MGS quality started to show and forced a series of uncharacteristic errors at key moments. Matteo was robbed on the edge of the area to get MGS back on level terms and at the break it was 1-1. Immediately after the restart, MGS struck again taking advantage of indecision in the Bridgewater defence.
Much to the team’s credit they continued to press forward and hit the post with a pile driver from Alfie and David had a great chance racing clear, only to be denied by a great save from the opposition goalkeeper. With Bridgewater advancing further forward as full time neared, MGS broke away from Bridgewater corners to score two very late goals to seal the win and secure a flattering 4-1 score line.
Game two was the vital game as a win would put Bridgewater or King’s through to the main draw. Once again, both teams went at each other from the start and both keepers were in action regularly. King’s opened the scoring, catching Bridgewater going forward once more and George could do nothing to prevent the goal. Bridgewater rallied once more, and Josh almost scored twice from corners. Alfie forced three fabulous saves from the keeper, whilst Jaydon and Reagan also brought out saves. Bridgewater equalised through a goal from David, but the good work was undone as Craig and Alfie were caught forward, allowing the strikers the freedom to break and they made no mistake. The 2-1 loss ensured MGS and King’s breathed a sigh of relief as they qualify for the main draw, but both teams knew it could have been so different.
In the final game, Bridgewater looked determined to take something away from the tournament. St Mary’s were the unfortunate opponents who found the team back to their best. From the first minute to the last, Bridgewater looked dangerous going forward, forcing the opposition back throughout the game. Alfie and David scored two each, with Josh, Jaydon and man of the match Luca B also on the score sheet. St Mary’s pulled a consolation goal back, but Reagan completed the scoring with a fabulous goal, cutting in from the left and curling the ball into the top corner “Salah-esq.”
Bridgewater returned home knowing they have the ability to challenge the AJIS and ISA schools at this age group. A kind draw in both competitions moving forward and who knows what can be achieved this season. It was good to see the team back in action and once training and games become more regular, this team will only get stronger as the season goes on. Next up for all Prep IV-VI sporting enthusiasts is the AJIS Cross Country Championships at Rossall on Wednesday 2nd October.