Woodley United U12 Spitfires Retain BYDL Cup
The Woodley saga of Blood Sweat and Tears wins the Day
For the first time this season a full squad of 14 players turned up determined to defend their BYDL Cup Winners title at Taplow on Sunday against an equally resolute Marlow Youth. Little did we know before kick off that 14 players was the minimum requirement for this hotly contested 9 a side match.
The weather forecast of rain was traditionally wrong, and the team ran out on a baking hot sunny May Sunday. Woodley kicked off with instructions to keep it solid, win their first tackle, pass the ball and build into the game. That’s exactly what they did with all players working hard and battling for the ball. Marlow had chosen to play their lightning paced forward down our right and each time Marlow won the ball in the early exchanges they came down this side. James and Jake were up for the fight and kept them at bay with coordinated tackling with Ollie covering around from the middle. In the first 10 minutes chances were hard to come by as always and both teams midfield were snapping at each other to win the ball before trying to find space to play in. Woodley started to play passing football with the ball being won in our left back channel, played through the midfield of Jack and Liam out wide to the right for Will to send balls into the Marlow box for Dylan to hunt.
At approximately the 10minute mark the constant tackling by Jack and Liam had started to turn the tide but only half chances could be created for Dylan already working tirelessly up front. Woodley started to sense a goal and again attacked down the right with a shot from Dylan forcing a great save from the keeper that rebounded to James on the edge of the box. James controlled it swivelled and unleashed a pile driver onto the bar which dropped down for another shot that the keeper again parried wide. The supporters were beginning to wonder if it was our day when Will took the corner, Ollie took the big men out to the edge of the box, Jack ran the defenders to the front post and Will crossed a pin point ball onto James head at the back post, 1v 0.
Shortly after, the first injury of the day resulted in Captain Jack limping off with an injured left knee. James moved into the middle to take his place in the centre, with Kickie, Sam and Thomas joining the fray. The enforced change made little difference and Woodley continued to attack more consistently, finding room with Thomas down the right. The first real flowing move of the game went from defence, through the midfield and out to Thomas who crossed a lovely ball which was met by Kickie, under pressure from the keeper. He won the header to see it go agonisingly wide of the near post.
Marlow started to find their stride and the game moved into a more open phase with both teams sending forwards through onto the last defenders. Woodley’s defence were up to the task but many attacks were repelled resulting in corners. Marlow had clearly practiced corners and had a routine that moved all the Woodley defenders out to the edge of the box before the ball was crossed accurately into the hole left behind. No problem for Louis who started to come off his line and claim corner after corner. One corner from the left directly struck the far post to the shout of well left Louis, all part of the keepers armoury. Another corner, this one from the right was cleared with a great header from Matt to a Marlow midfielder, who drove it back on target for Jake, who had not left his post (literally) to clear. Close again.
Then it was time for Thomas to bang knees with the opposition and forced injury substitution 2 resulted in two players with ice packs on their left knees supporting from the side lines. Fabien entered the mix in the middle of the park. The battling continued with other chances falling to Kickie down both the left and the right, but despite every possible effort, the footballing gods didn’t want to make the score line easier at this point. This feeling was increased when a free kick from Jake rattled the cross bar from all of 25 yards, that again fell into the mix for the keeper to pull of another wonder save. The first half-finished with Sam and Max working tirelessly up and down the wings and Fabien and Liam braking up Marlow play and setting us going again in the middle. The defence of Louis, Jake, Matthew and Will giving no quarter and Kickie running their defence all over the place
Half time 1v0
Ten minutes were allocated for half time and all 600 seconds of them were put to use. Thomas started his miracle cure on his knee and the management took the team out of the sun to rehydrate. Liverpool’s 1 v 0 lead in the Europa cup final was mentioned, lots of talk about doing it for each other and even world war one quotes such as ‘they shall not pass’ were rolled out. We also found time to discuss and work out how to defend against their excellent corner routine with Matt, Ollie and James lining up on the 6 yard box and making it clear which player was theirs as the attackers entered the box before attacking the ball.
The second half started with a back three of Matt, Ollie and Jake in front of the Cat, Louis. Will was back on the right, James in the middle with Liam and Dylan on the left, with Kickie up front. The instructions were to do what Liverpool couldn’t and keep it solid for 5-10 minutes. The boys set about their task again but inevitably Marlow were not going to go away and started to create chances of their own. They broke on us and despite solid defending the ball fell to a Marlow player who drove the ball against our crossbar and over. Close. Again they attacked, this time down the right which resulted in a great flying save from Louis who punched the ball clear to the left of our box. A Marlow player brought it down and struck through a crown only for Jake to again clear off the line, really close.
Then it was time for enforced injury change number 3, Kickie ,who was at this time having to operate alone up front to win and hold the ball up, took a ball from close range in the face. With a split lip and blood running the first aid kit was reached for again, and the changes rung. Kickie joined Jack and Thomas on the physio’s table and Dylan was now up front with Fabien on the left side of midfield.
Half way through the half lovely through ball from Sam sent Dylan through. As Dylan pushed past the last defender and approached the keeper we held our breath. Dylan lined up the shot and the ball was struck like an arrow past the keeper, the net bulged and we all breathed again. 2v0.
Marlow, like all good teams, came again refusing to be beaten and finally got their flying centre forward through our resolute defence. He ran in on goal but was beaten to the ball in the nick of time by Louis who smashed the ball into the shins of his opponent and clear. Again close
Enforced injury substitution no 4 followed shortly and saw Will finally succumb to a rake of studs down his achilles, more blood and another first aid kit moment and the physio’s bench started to creak under its fourth player. Fabien was moved again, this time to the right of midfield with Sam across on the left of midfield. The battle continued with Woodley trying to play football but with all the enforced changes it was difficult.
With 10 minutes to go the team physio had earnt his corn and Kickie had stopped bleeding ready to re-join the match, shortly followed by Thomas who had grown a new knee. Team spirit epitomised by both boys wanting to cast off the cold compress and bandages to have another go. Kickie went back up front, and Thomas into wide right with Fabien again moving, this time into central midfield to give James as well earnt rest. It wasn’t long before Thomas was making inroads down the right and soon he was clear of his man and moving towards the box. The defender did everything he could to stop Thomas entering the box but Thomas was in front and was staying there. He kept moving forwards but after another couple of attempts the defender finally managed to bring Thomas tumbling down and the ref pointed at the spot. Thomas picked himself up, picked up the ball, picked his spot and despite a valiant effort from the goal keeper scored low to the keepers right. 3v0.
The game finished with Max leading the line up front. The defence of Jake, Ollie and Matt and goal keeper Louis were as strong as they have ever been earning a massively important clean sheet. The midfield of Jack, Thomas, Sam, Max, James, Will, Fabien and Liam were battered, bruised but undefeated, summed up by Liam insisting his left leg was ok whilst being asked every 30 seconds are you ok. And of course Dylan and Kickie for working up front on their own to get and keep the ball.
A massive performance by all the boys who showed over and over again that they had the answers to the questions asked by a determined quality opposition. The coach can never ask for more than 100% effort from their team, for them to give blood, sweat and tears for each other and they all did, literally.
Effort award could, and should, have gone to each and every one of the boys who all performed in their positions admirably. Frank and I could not be more proud of all of them. However, the effort award was awarded to Fabien who played brilliantly in everybody’s position.
A special mention to Max and his family, if this was Max’s last game what a way to bow out. Thanks for all your effort and friendship, your always welcome back.