A year ago, the U9 football team played fabulous football to reach the quarterfinals of the MCFC Tournament at the state of the art MCFC training ground. The team crashed out in a penalty shoot out and the boys dramatically suffered the same fate once again this year!

In the group stages, Bridgewater had a tough draw, although with 20 schools in attendance, there were no easy groups. The team got off to a dreadful start losing their first game 2-0 to Stockport Grammar. A referee error gave Stockport an early lead, as the ball went out of play but was not spotted and the opposition striker made no mistake with the chance that ensued. Bridgewater rallied but struggled to get going and panicked a little as the game wore on. Alfie struck the post twice and Anton had a goal bound shot blocked on the line. With Bridgewater pressing for an equaliser, the sucker punch came on the break, as Luca failed to hold onto a shot and Stockport scored again.

In order to qualify, Bridgewater could not afford to lose another game. Lady Barn Prep were up next, and they always have competitive teams. Toby and Jackson performed well in defence to help keep a clean sheet for the team. Meanwhile, Josh and Alfie worked diligently to try and dominate the midfield. With time running out, Alfie burst past the full back and drove a shot-cum-cross in on goal that Tommy expertly turned in to give Bridgewater a vital 1-0 win.

In game three. Altrincham Prep started as favourites, but Bridgewater were in no mood to go out of the competition just yet. Luca had a couple of shaky moments in goal, but the team held out and began to assert themselves on the opposition. A lovely through ball from Josh was coolly finished by Tommy, who added a second when he once again turned home an Alfie cross. A 2-0 win was a great result for the team as a win over Bury Grammar would put Bridgewater into the last eight of the tournament.

Bridgewater set off for goals, hoping to finish top if Stockport were to slip up, and give an easier draw in the quarterfinals. Sabri had little to do in goal as Bridgewater dominated the game from the kick off. Alfie found his shooting boots and helped himself to a hat trick. Joel went close to opening his account before Tommy scored again. Luca B and Josh added a goal each as Bridgewater ran out 6-0 winners. The win gave the team a much needed confidence boost but it still meant that the early surprise defeat to Stockport would leave a game against one of the other group winners.

Indeed, the draw could not have been much tougher, as Kings of Chester lay in wait for Bridgewater. However, by now the team were in full throttle mode and were desperate to show that this is a tournament that they wanted to win. Kings were forced back throughout the game and Bridgewater played some delightful football. As the game developed, it was almost as though Bridgewater knew that they had to avoid a penalty shoot out at all costs. The opposition goalkeeper was in brilliant form and when he was beaten, a defender deflected the shot, merely got in the way or the post saved the ball from going into the back of the net. Somehow, Kings of Chester claimed a 0-0 draw and forced the game into an immediate shoot out.

With memories flooding back from last season, some were reluctant to step forward and take a penalty. Alfie stepped forward to take the first penalty and struck it thunderously past the keeper …. but not inside the post! Despite two great penalties from Josh and Jackson, Luca could not stop the Chester penalties and Bridgewater had lost 3-2 in a dramatic and heart- breaking fashion. There were tears, consoling hand shakes from the opposition who knew how lucky they had been and the team will learn from the experience without a doubt. A very entertaining morning of football and Bridgewater can be proud to be competing in such an illustrious setting and amongst some serious opposition.

Penalty Shoot Out Déjà Vu For Unlucky U10s At MCFC

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