It has been over 18 months since Bridgewater prep played a competitive football match. This week, we finally experienced the highs and lows of competing against other schools, and not just our own bubbles.
First up the U11 football team travelled to the Wirral and Birkenhead School, to participate in the AJIS qualifying event. Any AJIS event is always going to be a challenge for an ISA school and Bridgewater faced a demanding draw, facing grammar schools from Stockport, Kirkham and Birkenhead. In recent years, the U11s have excelled in all competitions, and this team has a lot to live up to. Although results did not go to plan, this team can be extremely proud of how they adapted and evolved during the mini tournament.
In the first game, Birkenhead were physically stronger and had more technical ability in possession. From the opening minute, Bridgewater had to face wave after wave of attack. Tommy-Jack dropped back into the centre of defence with debutant Jacob, and both had tremendous games. In goal Kian was inspired, with one save drawing admiring gasps from onlookers. The midfield of Frankie, Anton and Alex battled manfully but struggled to get a foothold in the game. Samuel and Arthur took turns to forage for scraps upfront and kept the opposition defence honest throughout the game. Birkenhead ran out worthy 6-0 winners, a score line they were to better against Kirkham in the next game.
The pattern of the first game was repeated in the first half of the next games against Stockport Grammar. By halftime, Bridgewater found themselves 5-0 and in need of some inspiration. That was to come minutes into the second half when Samuel scored a special goal to lift everyone’s spirits. With a target set not to concede in the second half, the team went one better by winning the half 1-0 and more importantly, they had started to tactically adapt to playing against stronger opposition.
Bridgewater went into the final game against Kirkham Grammar filled with confidence and optimism. Each player had a specific role and now they began to execute that role significantly better. Frankie had a fantastic game, shutting down the right side of the Kirkham attacks and found time to burst forward with menace on occasion also. Jacob and Keith blocked shots and made tackles tirelessly, whilst Tommy-Jack stamped his authority on the game the longer it went on. Tommy played a delightful one-two with Anton before threading a delicious pass through to Alex. Alex broke three tackles and rode a desperate lunge from the keeper before slotting the ball home to take a 1-0 lead. Samuel went close to adding to the tally with another fine solo effort, whilst Arthur provided some much needed energy in midfield. As Kirkham pressed for an equiliser, Kian proved to be unsurpassable and Bridgewater proudly took a 1-0 victory home to Worsley. The team will be excited to continue their development as they are back in action at the Manchester City Festival at the football academy on Friday.