| By Mr Cox |
A huge thank you to everyone who braved the cold to watch our tremendous Year 10 boys football team in the national cup last 64 match against LeAF Studio School (Bournemouth). As many of you will know, not only were LeAF School a team which made it to the last four nationally last season, they are linked with Bournemouth AFC.
With our captain Calum unable to play due to concussion suffered at the weekend, as well as a bout of illness taking down our winger Keanan, the task was already an uphill one. Striker turned centre back Kye slotted into the back three comfortably, alongside trusted colleagues Cullen and Cory. They were anchored by the safe hands of Bradley, who commanded his area with dominance throughout and never missed a trick.
Twenty minutes in and a defensive mix up on their behalf, through over playing from a short goal kick, was quickly pounced on by the twinkle footed Tyler who jinked his way past two tackles before slotting home. The crowd erupted. Our fortune didn’t last long though as LeAF found a foothold in the game and in the latter 10 minutes of the first half they made their possession count with a strong bit of hold up play by their striker prior to a tidy finish.
Half time 1-1.
A breather, a pep talk and a tactical sub made up the half time window with the hard working Harry making way for Lochlan, who in his brother’s absence ensured the family representation was present. Our two midfield maestros, Ryan and Phil, ran the show from start to finish like two accomplished principal conductors at an orchestra. With Ryan’s strength and Phil’s guile, it wasn’t long until the pair fed, Theo who ran onto a one on one with the LeAF 6ft+ goalkeeper. With a calm head, Theo waited for the keeper to dive before slotting the ball past him and into the net. 2-1 to the Taunton Academy with 20 minutes remaining. Could it really happen?
Our recent signing from Spain, Jesus, ran the LeAF left back into the ground and worked tirelessly both in defence and attack throughout, chasing down every last ball. With captain Ryan leading by example, the academy showed maturity to run down the clock with sensible decision making coincided with immense commitment to get to every loose ball.
Seven minutes remaining and Liam and Ed were involved in feeding the exciting young prospect Phil, who skipped past the LeAF right back before being hastily brought down on the fringes of the penalty area towards the left hand touch line. We had been a threat from set pieces all day, having hit the cross bar previously and up stepped Phil to cross the ball to an unmarked Theo, who dispatched the ball with a side foot volley past the helpless goalkeeper. Cue bedlam as the academy crowd and staff went wild as their dreams of a place in the last 32 are becoming a reality. Giant killing is on the menu!
The following seven minutes became backs against the wall as LeAF threw everything at us but they threw no punch that caused a knock out blow as our boys defended magnificently. The final whistle went and the academy boys wrote history by booking their spot in the next round. A pitch invasion followed with celebrations running long into period five.
The 3-1 victory was sweet and we march on now into the last 32 against Stonehenge School, a fixture that will once again be played on our home turf in the next couple of weeks. Boy didn’t you all (as well as the 200-ish students watching) make it happen!
I’ve never had a prouder moment at the academy than seeing the smile on so many faces at the full time whistle. Our students showed just how proud they are of our school. Tyler said when he scored it was the best feeling he had ever experienced as the crowd went totally bonkers for him.
Onwards we go!