Twenty teams from nineteen schools took part in a thrilling 6 a side football competition at the fabulous Manchester City FC Academy on Friday.

The Bridgewater team were under no illusion about how difficult it was going to be to make an impact. Teams from the likes of The Kings of Chester and Macclesfield, Stockport, Bury and Manchester Grammar Schools, as well as larger schools such as Bolton School and The Grange, were all looking to win the tournament. Bridgewater had Stockport Grammar, Moor Allerton, Ryleys and Lady Barn House to contend with. A top two finish would be a tough ask, but the team were confident, enthusiastic and full of excitement.

In the first game against Stockport Grammar, Tommy ran the midfield and drove the team forward. Tom marshalled the defence, whilst Alex and Anton provided the energy and tireless running. San had a great chance early on, but it was a solo run and finish from Tommy that looked to have won the game for Bridgewater. However, a last-minute drive flew over keeper Kian’s head to send both teams away with a point.

In game two, Bridgewater were far too strong for Moor Allerton. Tommy scored two, Alex added another two before Anton completed the scoring in a 5-0 win. The game against Lady Barn House was much closer and a tense affair, as the winner would qualify for the quarterfinals. Kian made a couple of crucial saves early on and Tom, Alex and Anton made several great tackles. Meanwhile, Tommy was causing problems going forward, aided at different times by Sam, Sid, San and Frankie. The pressure continued to mount on the LBH goal and finally a brilliant corner from Anton was volleyed home expertly by Tommy.
The buoyant Bridgewater boys pressed forward with renewed belief and were rewarded with late goals from Alex and Frankie. An impressive 3-0 victory meant that in the final game, a win would give Bridgewater an easier route to a potential final.

The Ryleys School were free scoring and had not conceded a goal in their games thus far. This was a cracking affair with both teams throwing in challenge after challenge, shot after shot and creating chance after chance. Kian produced a great save, Tom an important block, whilst Anton, Tommy and Alex all tested the opposition keeper. In the end, a 0-0 draw was a fair result, with both teams advancing to the last eight of the competition.

In the quarterfinals, The Ryleys crashed out to Kings of Chester, whilst Bridgewater had to try and overcome the mighty Grange School. The Grange took an early lead, following a defensive mix up and despite prolonged pressure on The Grange goal, Bridgewater looked to be going out. This team does not give in easily though and with the last kick of the game, Sam poked home an Anton pass to send the tie into a penalty shootout. With Tommy missing the first kick, Kian kept the team hopes alive with a great save. Anton lashed a terrific left foot screamer into the top corner to level at 1-1. Kian produced another tremendous save to leave Alex the chance to win the tie with his spot kick. With the coolest of run ups, Alex strokes the ball into the roof of the net to send the Bridgewater players into scenes of delight… and into the semi-finals!

With barely a moment to come down from the ecstasy of the win, Bridgewater had to kick off against Bury Grammar. Once again, there was little to choose between the teams. Bury played the more attractive football, but Bridgewater refused to budge and battled for every ball. An unfortunate ricochet saw the bail break for the Bury forward who put Bury ahead 1-0, deservedly on the balance of play. Nevertheless, Bridgewater almost took the game into penalties as a long throw from Kian put Frankie clear, only for his shot to loop agonisingly over the bar.

All in all, the team performed magnificently to reach the semi-finals and it was a proud occasion for the players and visiting supporters too. Next up for the team is a trip to Manchester Grammar School on Monday to test themselves in the fast, pulsating game of Tag Rugby. Well done today boys, have a great weekend and more of the same at MGS please!

Under Nine, Just Sublime!

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