Having won the Staffordshire ISA 5-a-side football tournament at both the U’9 & U’11 age groups the week before (4th October), spirits & expectations for the Midlands’ ISA football tournament (11th October) were high. Bettering last year’s performance in the competition however, would be no easy task (U’9 Champions & U’11 Semi-finalists).
St Joseph’s arrived at the Birmingham based venue in plenty of time to have a good warm-up and settle some nerves. There were 12 schools participating at the U’9 age group and 16 U’11 teams. The U’9s were the first to compete and they started well, recording comfortable victories over local rivals Chase Academy (4-0) & Stafford Prep’ (2-0). The U’11s first match was considerably tighter as St Joseph’s struggled to find the right gear against a determined Crackley Hall. A well taken free kick was the difference as St Joseph’s secured the 3 points for a win.
Another U’9 win v St Wystan’s (2-0) saw St Joseph’s at the top of the group, having played and won 3 out of 3. With 2 games to play however, it was very much a case of “Don’t count your chickens until they have hatched,” as the U’9s then went and drew 0-0 with Vernon Lodge and lost 1-0 to Dixie Grammar. This of course set tongues wagging. Had we qualified for the latter stages? Fortunately, our earlier good work saw us go through to the Semi-finals in 2nd position.
The U’11s managed to lift their game in their 2nd match with an impressive 2-0 win over a strong St Wystan’s team. This then set-up a mouth- watering, top of the table clash against Highclare - who squeezed us out of last year’s tournament in the Semi-finals.
St Joseph’s were ready for the contest and an onslaught on the Highclare goal was the result! The opposition goal keeper had the game of his life however, as Highclare managed to weather the storm and take advantage of a goal keeping error at the other end to finish the first half 1-0 up. St Joseph’s equalized early on in the 2nd half, but could not find the winner. Instead, Highclare again benefitted from defensive exuberance and stole the game 2-1. Although slightly deflated by the loss, St Joseph’s new they were playing well and had qualified for the Quarter-finals in 2nd position.
The U’11 Quarter-final was against a staunch Salterford House. They defended magnificently and took us to a penalty shoot-out. This is where young James Mullaney (Yr5) made his mark in the competition by saving the first 3 Salterford penalties. St Joseph’s on the other hand clinically executed their opportunities and the team marched through to the Semi’s.
Surprisingly, both teams were drawn against Highclare again in the Semi-finals and psychology was to play an
important part in the outcome! The U’9s had witnessed the previous U’11 encounter and the U’11s of course had lived it. The experience served to galvanize our attacking efforts and fortify our defensive discipline, as we calmly set about exacting our revenge. St Joseph’s won both games 1-0 and had qualified for both finals for the very first time – a fantastic effort for one of the smallest ISA schools in the region!
The U’9 opposition in the final were Dixie Grammar, who had beaten us 1-0 in the group stages. The U’11s had Ruckliegh, who had reached the final unbeaten. St Joseph’s made their plans for victory and wished each other best of luck. Both games were to be played simultaneously, so the St Joseph’s support was unfortunately split, but both teams were focussed and new the challenge ahead. The U’9s took an early lead from a well struck goal from the left. The U’11s were playing well, but not finding the net. The next 3 minutes were frantic as Ruckliegh scored on a fast break. Dixie Grammar then equalised and just before half-time, Ruckliegh scored another.
A few words of motivation and some tactical changes saw St Joseph’ s ready for battle once more. Both teams hit the post in the U’9s game. St Joseph’s U’11s clawed a goal back. More substitutions took place as we went in search of the winner in the U’9 game and the U’11s chucked everything at the Rucklieigh defense. Excitement was not a big enough word to explain what we were viewing and then, the whistle!
Sadly, the U’11s had been pipped at the final hurdle, but took defeat sportingly. The U’9s went to extra-time, but the dead-lock was not broken. To reclaim our U’9 title, we had to win a penalty shoot-out! After two penalties each, the score was 1-1, but our accuracy failed us with the next 2 opportunities and Dixie won the day 3-1. Hands were shaken, pride was swallowed and heads were lifted high to receive our Runners-up medals.
The Journey home was a period of reflection: Played 13, Won 8, Drawn 1, Lost 4; 20 goals for, 7 against; both teams in the Finals and medals around our necks; A day off school and lots of fun playing sport – not a bad day really!
Thanks go out to Mrs Short for her administrative support on the day and to all Parents who travelled to Cannock & Birmingham to cheer the teams on – it always makes a difference.
2010 Report written by the Under-Eleven Team
On Tuesday 12th October 2010, the football team went to Birmingham for the ISA football tournament. When we arrived we went to our changing room and put our boots on, then went outside to warm up. The man who was running the tournament called us into the middle to discuss the rules. When it was all done, the first matches were about to begin.
Our first match was against Greenholme. When the match kicked off we took immediate possession of the ball. We played some pretty football and then played a long ball up to Elijah to run onto. One of their defenders gave away a free kick. Lewis stepped up to take it...and then whack as he bent it around the wall and into the back of the net! One-nil to us! We took possession of the ball again and passed it straight back to Elijah who curled it into the top left hand corner. Two- nil! We still had plenty of time to look for another but they held us at bay until the end of the game.
Then we had little break before the next game against Saltford House.
The game kicked off and it was a real midfield battle. We seemed to be on top and it looked like we should have been winning, but at the end of the first half there had been no goals. In the second half we had a lot more attempts on goal but we couldn’t find the back of the net. Our best chance was a free kick just outside the box but it was brilliantly saved by their keeper. The game finished at nil–nil but our coach knew we were the better team.
Then we had a really big break while we watched the under-nines in action.
Our final group match was against Vernon Lodge. When the match kicked off we got the ball and passed it about. We then let Patrick loose on a run but the keeper safely gathered it in. Patrick fell to the ground and sprained his knee and was sadly out of action for the rest of the tournament. We took immediate possession of the ball and unleashed Elijah on the opposition defence. 1-0 to us thanks to a classy finish by Elijah. At half time the score was the same. The second half we added two more great goals by Ciaran and Nathan. However, we then fell asleep at the back and conceded a goal but we kept the upper hand to win 3-1.
In the quarter finals we faced Highclare. They for a change took possession of the ball first and scored a goal. We then started to play better football and had a couple of close shaves, but at half time the score was the same. In the second half we were by far the better team but we couldn’t find the back of the net and then suddenly they caught us on the break and scored a great goal.
So we were knocked out of our tournament but the under-nines won theirs. You can’t win them all!