Match report by Mr Mason.
The Year 9 football team completed a memorable season with an epic Cup Final win against Castle School. The team had already had a fantastic season with them reaping the rewards from all their hard work and commitment to the academy cause and putting together an excellent set of results winning six of the seven games they have played.
Having already dispatched strong Bishop Foxes and Kingsmead teams in the quarter and semi finals they faced a well fancied and very physically strong Castle team on their home 4G turf in the final. There was a strong travelling contingent from the academy making their support and voices heard despite being half the number of the Castle fans. This roused the boys into a strong start and we found ourselves 2-0 up after fifteen minutes thanks to a strong run and finish from Kai and a sublime chip from Ed leaving the hosts shell shocked and looking at each other to what was happening.
The pace was intense and the commitment high as the game progressed on through the half with both teams playing exceptional football of contrasting styles, Castle a physical and direct game, the academy a game of clever touches, creativity and team ethic. In that time both teams went close with Tyler in between the sticks pulling off a number of brave and crucial saves, whilst up the other end Keenan had a shot cleared off the line and Tyler hit the post.
We had hoped to get to half time 2-0 up but with the heat of the evening starting to take a toll on legs and minds we allowed the Castle striker too much time on the ball and he slotted home from the edge of the box. That said it had been an exceptional first half from the boys and we led 2-1.
We paused for a half time break, rehydrated and set out our plan to continue to stifle the Castle team and in turn create chances for us to win the match.
The boys went out in the second half and were confronted with a rejuvenated Castle side who started extremely strongly with a will and determination to get back into the match. We defended for our lives and put up a wall of resistance repelling wave after wave of attack. Unfortunately we conceded with fifteen minutes left to a smart attack and finish down the left and were stood at 2-2 tired, drained but still fighting hard.
Over the next fifteen minutes the boys showed what they were all about, we didn’t break from our principles, we didn’t let our heads drop and we kept battling to a man to try and forge one more chance. With two minutes to go we were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Castle box, Tyler took responsibility and backed his ability that he was going to shoot. He stepped up with purpose and belief and hit an incredible dipping effort that struck the post beating the diving goalkeeper rebounded and hit the keeper on the back to bounce back into the unguarded net.
What followed was absolute scenes of delight as the realisation that we actually could do it and that the cup was nearly ours. What followed was what seemed like the longest two minutes of our lives but we held out, repelled every advance thrown at us and saw out the time to win the Taunton Area District Cup.
The team were all heroes with Tyler in goal making a string of incredible saves. The defence of Lochlan, Calum, Corey and man of the match Ryan never switched off, put their bodies on the line and stood strong and firm at all times. The midfield three of Ed, Tyler and the Taunton Messi Phil were clever, creative, skillful and always so intelligent with the ball. Whilst our front three of Theo, Kai and Keenan caused constant problems to the Castle defence all afternoon with insightful movement, great physicality and real pace to forge and create chances on regular occasions. Special mention also to Jesus and the versatile Harry who both came on and put in incredible shifts in a number of positions and for whom without we could not have played the way we did as it allowed all our players to rest and recuperate before re-entering the battle.
I have to say in the more than twenty years I have been working in school football it was the most complete performance and made me the proudest teacher to be associated with such able, team spirited, resilient and hardworking young men. The result was fully deserved and they are all a credit to themselves, their parents and the academy.