From the squad of 20 players we took 8 with us to Brackley FC, a tournament the players have never been to before.
Team: Liam, Ethan, Leon, Alistair, Ross, Ollie, Stirling, James.
All of their matches were played on the first team pitch and it was a beautiful surface for the boys who are used to the local playing fields of Northamptonshire. The added bonus of playing in front of a few hundred parents didn’t seem to go amiss either.
This was the boys first taste of a knockout tournament and they were certainly pumped up for it, talking about winning the Final before they had even kicked a ball in anger.
As coaches we were expecting some stiff opposition as we had two semi-professional club academy teams in our group and with each game being 10 minutes one way it was almost going to be a case of who blinked first would lose.
The first game got underway and the boys were on the front foot straight away, dominating possession but not getting any real clear cut chances. The constant pressure eventually told and we went a goal up, but despite being the better team in all areas we managed to let the other team to claw one back late on.
The rest of the group stage games followed a similar pattern with the boys dominating each match and winning their games quite comfortably. It was a real joy to watch them enjoying their football and really playing for each other. When the results were handed in there was also some genuine surprise that we were beating all around us.
So, the Quarter-Finals. We were playing one of the winners of the 4th and 5th place playoffs who had just squeezed through on penalties. We had already beaten the other team from the same club so confidence was high. From kick off the boys resumed normal service and set about destroying the team before them, running out 1-0 victors after about 20 odd shots in the 10 minutes. The boys strolled off the pitch looking extremely happy with themselves.
The semi-final was against Brackley Town FC and their parents were out in force for this one, but it looked like a repeat of all the other games. Brixworth were dominant in possession but couldn’t create any clear cut chances. A lot of shots and corners were going close but nothing of real quality to trouble their goalkeeper. Then up stepped our sweeper who took a simple touch to open his body out and boom…. a screamer into the top right hand corner of the goal. We were 1-0 up with only half the game gone. The boys piled on the pressure looking for the second goal but it wouldn’t come. As we approached the last minute Brackley had a rare attack and managed to bundle the ball over the line. Arggghhhh. 1-1 with about 30seconds to go.
Extra time saw us attack in numbers leaving only the sweeper at the back. We hit the bar, hit the post, and you begin to think is this our day.
Suddenly a clearance from their defence rocketed straight up the middle of the pitch. Their attacker was on it, our sweeper was on it, our goalkeeper rushed out of goal to get on it. A bit of confusion later and the ball was squeezed inside the post to make it 2-1 to Brackley. A last concerted effort from the team but we just couldn’t get that lucky break that we needed. A valiant effort but we were knocked out of the tournament in Extra Time of a Semi-Final.
Considering we are a small village club The team made the coaches extremely proud of them. They way they played, never argued with themselves or the ref and of course they way they absolutely destroyed the other teams at the tournament.
Next year we’re going for the Cup…!
Tournament took place on the 4th May 2014.