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Academy Match Reports


21st Mar 2024

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U7 gold boys 2 vs 1 Camden Borough AFC Reds

A tense, tight and nervy affair! We were dealt a tough hand on the day due to some illnesses.  Isaiah could only manage a few minutes and Djibril missed the whole game. A lack of substitutes meant it was very difficult for the 5 who had to play the whole game. Usually, our technical ability is what sets us apart from other teams, but today, the battle, intensity and desire to win was what helped us to hang on to progress in the cup.

A run down the wing from Adam helped open the scoring, beating two players and shooting across goal to find the corner. A great finish after a lung-busting run! The first half was relatively balanced, with both teams creating a few chances. Nico in goal was very busy, channelling his inner Alisson to save a handful of 1 on 1 situations, keeping us in the lead. He was ultimately the difference on the day, although Camden found an equaliser just before half time, setting us up for a nerve-wracking second half.

A deflected free kick from Adam nestled in the corner to reinstate our lead, but with a while to go, we weren’t in the clear. The defensive work of Arthur in the second half couldn’t be understated. He was our player of the match (albeit with strong competition) as he prevented so many chances at source, with endless tackles and interceptions, keeping Camden at bay. His ability to win the ball and drive us up the pitch was key to our victory. Nico behind him was just as good. His 1v1 saves kept us in the game, he claimed all the loose balls in his area, and got a lot of praise from the opposition after the game too.

Chiaki, Haru and Adam maintained a high level of intensity throughout the whole game. The challenges, tracking back and intent to win the ball was the best it had ever been and was key to our victory. A monumental effort from all players, and a hard fought victory.

Despite the quality on the pitch, my highlight was the huge smiles at the end of the game!

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL foundation U7 black boys 6 vs 3 Camden Borough AFC Blues

ASTONISHING performance by all players! I can’t put into words how proud I am of this team. Their perseverance and resilience is unreal. They showed courage and fought for every ball from start to finish against a strong team which has won against us many times. On the day the boys showed no team is too big for us, and demonstrated what we are capable of.

My highlight was Zach’s celebration after scoring his hat-trick goal and including all of his team mates. Everyone cheered at the end which really showed this team is always together. Player of the match was Zach. However I could give this to every single player, starting from Walid doing an amazing work in goal, Keenan doing a solid job in defence and Nabil’s screamer free kick giving us the lead.

Finlay, Harrison and Ozan helped the team out whilst out of possession and pressed high up the pitch to avoid the opposition breaking in our half. Michael used his speed to dribble through the pitch and pass it to Zach and Harrison to create scoring chances. The team has improved in their passing and defending, using different activities in training involving defending 1v1 and pressing to regain the ball. This has been crucial to us generating opportunities which have been converted into goals.

This week and next week we will work more on dribbling and passing, as the team often lose the ball due to not passing it enough or taking many touches before playing a pass. But with work and commitment this can be achieved in the short-term.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U9 gold 4 vs 0 Queens Park Sharks

This was a player led session giving the lads some responsibility. We cruised through the game and it got to a point where everyone wanted a goal. Goal scorers were Ryan (2), Charlie and Louis.

The moment of the match was James rifling an effort that smacked against the bar and went across the goal line. Liam was our player of the match.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U9 black 2 vs 3 Active FC

Tough game against player who were definitely physically taller and better than us but it didn’t stop us.  Goal scorers were Teddy and James. The latter being the player of the match.

The moment of the game was when Ismail was able to pick the ball up in the middle of the pitch and play a splitting pass to Tomasso to have a chance on goal. Despite the result, we kept fighting to the death aiming to try and get that result which made me really proud.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U10 girls boys 3 vs 1 Stokey United

On Saturday the girls were outstanding! Everyone was involved using their strength and skill but they were also positive through the whole game which helped them get the win. We went 1-0 down after an error that we have spoken about before. But, that seemed to wake the girls up and despite it being hot they pushed through, creating some amazing chances. Maisie came on after being in goal and I said to her ‘you are going to score’. A couple of minutes later Aniera storms through their defence passing the ball to Maisie who there to slot it into the bottom corner.

All game Aniera was a tank on the wing. Her foot work was unreal getting a few cheeky nutmegs in. Don’t get me started on her goals! Both outside the box.  Using her laces to blast the ball into the back of the net.

My favourite moment was when Aniera scored her second goal. She ran down the wing cutting in and barging a player out of the way, who was much bigger than her, striking the ball into top corner. This was also my favourite moment because of how the girls reacted. They were so positive giving her high fives and hugs it was amazing to see.

 Coaches player of the match was Aniera . Players player of the match was Maisie. They all played so so well I had to ask them who they think deserves recognition. We have been working on tracking back and striking the ball with our laces and both we done successfully in the game and paid off.  To improve we need to remember to scan and be aware of where everyone is.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U10 gold boys 4 vs 1 Fusion

I’m very proud of this performance from the boys. They controlled the game so well and showed both good teamwork recycling the ball in their own half and good individual skills to take players on. Charlie opened our account with a firm penalty. Although we were quickly pegged back by a penalty as well. We reacted quickly by using the width of the pitch to stretch Fusions formation. It benefitted us as we found bigger spaces on the weak side when we switched the ball quickly.

Ezekiel scored a brilliant goal by cutting inside from the left wing and forcing the defender to make an own goal after a good delivery from the corner. Roka also scored a goal to secure our lead before half time. A very solid defensive performance from Rocco, Liam, Louis and James stopped attacks in front of our box.

My favourite moment was when Ezekiel dribbled the ball through the centre of the pitch. Liam made a great overlapping run from right wing back to provide a wide option and received the ball from Ezekiel. He then sent a good cross to find Rocco in the box. It was a very good teamwork to move the ball around and created an overload on one side to unlock the defence.

Player of the match goes to Ezekiel. He made an immediate impact on the game when he was substituted on. He was confident in carrying the ball forward with precise close control. He made himself a big threat toward the opponent’s defensive line and with a brilliant finish sent us to leading position. The set pieces he took were also in high quality, caused a lot of problems for Fusions keepers.

In training we focused on creating overloads and encouraging boys to keep their heads up to asses their options. The boys are starting to apply the knowledge into the match. We can do better by looking for more passing patterns in central areas to break lines.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U10 gold boys 3 vs 1 European Football Academy

A really good performance from the boys with us getting a good victory. The match started a bit slowly for us, but we slowly grew into the game which led to our first goal, a thunderous strike from Laurence to make it 1-0. This was then followed by a very nice finish from Teo which made it 2-0 going into halftime.

Our second half performance followed the same trend with more chances created. Marcelo used quick thinking to take a very quick throw in down the line to allow Teo carry the ball on the wing. Teo then cut the ball back for Pax to finish. This epitomised a really good transition movement for us. The highlight of the match. The opposition won a penalty in the last minute. Tommy managed to save it, but unfortunately the rebound was tapped in. Nevertheless we ran out 3-1 winners.

My player of the match was Pax with his maximum effort shown in his willingness to win the ball back and transition quickly with the ball when he won it. He added a goal as well for good measure.

This week in training we were looking at counter-attacking movements and how we can be effective in transition situations. I felt we showed that especially in our third goal and will try to build on that in future fixtures. We can improve by being more flexible with our off-ball movement when we pass the ball to our teammates. This will help us move the ball quicker up the field. This is the key element in us moving to the next level.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL foundation U11 boys 2 vs 1 Camden Town Youth

A hard fought win with yet another incredibly impressive defensive performance from the entire team! Everyone gave their all for the full match, and came away with another deserved win. My favourite moment of the match was the celebrations at full time. Throughout the game all players were supporting and praising each other, and you could tell how much it meant to the boys to get that win for the second match in a row.

Lewis was our player of the match this week. Lewis played the majority of the game in positions he was not used to, and put in a fantastic performance regardless! Extremely solid defensively, and created a lot going forward too!

We have been working on playing out from the back, and more so than previous weeks we have retained possession from goal kicks, looking to start the attack. We could be a little better at taking our chances, giving us the opportunity to run away with games from earlier on.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U12 black boys 1 vs 3 Aldenham

On the surface of things, a tightly fought encounter against a side in the division above isn’t the worst that can happen. But I’m ambitious for this Black team and left disappointed the result.

As always, we proved that we can go toe-to-toe with pretty much anyone. We started off strongly and looked the better side. Although there were some mistakes, I was proud of our confidence at the back. We had joy playing from Wilkie, to Boris, to Seb, who delivered a really assured performance at wing-back. Yarik was pulling strings from midfield, but we struggled to sustain attacks, with little support from the advanced centre-midfielders and the timing of the runs was not quite there. That common understanding will develop with time, but we should remain mindful of the opposition’s shape: if they’re cheating (pressing us  aggressively), play the diagonal pass; if they’re honest (protecting the centre), get the ball out wide, look to be aggressive 1v1 and get runners in behind.

That being said, the message at half-time was that we needed more: more aggression, more desire to get forwards, more bravery. The disappointing element was that we weren’t able to provide that; second half, we struggled to play out from the back as Yarik struck an increasingly forlorn figure managing the midfield solo. Let that be a lesson going forward: whether you’re classified as a winger, a centre-mid, a #10, you have to go and support the defensive-midfielder! Leaving him to manage an island isn’t OK—let the wing-back provide width. The coaching staff also shoulder some of the blame, with unclear messaging, which we too have owned, have spoken about and will improve.

Given our build-up woes, we struggled to impose ourselves on the game and conceded two sloppy goals I have entirely erased from my memory, I just know I was frustrated. Lesson number 5: if we’re struggled to manage a high press—play fast, attack the weak-side, go long. We’ve worked on the solutions, it’s up to you—the players—to implement them and, if you’re unsure, to ask.

The Dalvinator was on target once again to top off another impressive performance. The Black team should look to him as a shining example of what happens if you train well and bring a top attitude every time he steps on to the pitch. Well done son, you’re my man of the match.

In life, you often get what you deserve and if the Black team are honest, we didn’t deserve the win today. However, in life, there are winners and there are losers; winners are those who learn from their mistakes, losers are those who don’t. I choose to be winners.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U13 girls 4 vs 1 HMH

The first half of this game was tightly contested with Bloomsbury staying strong and advancing well up the pitch as a team. However, we just couldn’t get the end product. The opposition manager was very loud but the BFA girls stuck to their own game and ignored him. The second half was very entertaining with lots of battles across the pitch especially in the midfield, with BFA players holding strong and winning some amazing tackles.

The opposition, through some miracle, put the ball in the back of the net first. But BFA immediately responded with a super finish from Jet. A few minutes later and O’Miya put the ball in the net for BFA’s second goal. BFA continued this pressure with Tara running from half way and slotting the ball home for BFA’s third. We continued our dominance with O’Miya grabbing her second of the game to finish the game 4-1.

My highlight was the resilience of the team to ignore the opposition manager. Players player of the match were Emma, O’Miya and Jet for their sheer determination all game. From super tackles to amazing runs to cool finishes. Coaches player of the match was Esther for her super tackles and for stepping into midfield and playing brilliantly there.

This week in training we worked on finishing with lots of games. This helped us to grab some important goals. Next week we need to improve our ability to track runners.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U14 boys 1 vs 4 european Football academy

We came up against a very strong EFA team, who showed us that although we have improved massively throughout this season, there are still more levels for us to reach as a team. We struggled to compete defensively against a team with high quality players all over the pitch.

Standout performances from Jack Orbell and Jake Davies. Jack Orbell has taken huge strides forward this season and has become a real driving force in the team, continuing to play his hardest and encourage those around then when the game was becoming tough. Jake Davies put in some fantastic tackles, breaking up the opposition attacks.

The standout moment of the game came when we scored our consolation goal. A superb interception and cheeky bit of skill from Jake Davies on the left wing to start a counter attack, which ended with a brilliant finish from Rubens Baron.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U16 girls 4 vs 3 London football School

Be forewarned, this report has a prologue.

The start of this year has been challenging for me. After 18 months of moving across the world to fulfil my ambition of getting paid to watch football, I had reached an impasse. I was not coaching as much as I wanted, nor did I have my own team. It had me thinking, was it all worth it?

Fast forward a couple of months and I would find myself at Anfield, asked to chaperone the mascots for the Liverpool vs Sparta Prague Europa league game. This is the kind of opportunity only Bloomsbury can provide. The stadium and the team hold a special place in my heart after watching Steven Gerrard smash in a goal from outside the box against a dogged Olympiacos side on a CRT television 20 years ago.

At the game, an early onslaught of 3 goals in the first 10 minutes had me wondering what I had done to deserve this. After a few more goals which put the result beyond doubt, I stared around the ground, trying to take in what a rare opportunity this was for me. I couldn’t help but feel a quiver emanating from deep in my core. This was a new sensation. There was fear of the unknown, but it felt good. I had moved ever so much closer to my goal. In this legendary stadium I was getting paid to watch a team that I love win a game whilst playing some breath-taking football. What could be better than that?

Less than 24 hours later I would be back in London, pitch side, ready to take on the ever-present behemoth that is London Football School’s U16 girls team. We had faced them 3 times this season and each time we had walked away licking our wounds, thinking of what could have been.

The day had not been going well for me. I had broken my phone and needed to scramble to get a replacement. Toni, our wondrous defender, would not be present for the game. On top of this, I had not had a sip of water or morsel of food as I was observing a fast during the month of Ramadan. To say the least, I was not my usual exuberant self. Hardly the recipe for beating the team that had brushed us aside 14-2 on aggregate over our last 3 meetings.

Ever the optimist, I did not let this negative swirl of energy reach the girls. I only asked two things of them. Firstly, we needed to be bouncier. Too many times against this team (and others) we have been caught trying to do it all on our own. Our first thought when someone passes us the ball should be to get it back to them. Secondly, I had asked them to do what we had been working on in training all of last week, which was winning the ball back as soon as we lost it.

Fundamentally, football is beautiful as it allows us to weave our own magic on the game with those who don the colours alongside us. An intense ballet fluttering between control and chaos. My first challenge was related to the former and my second, very much in relation to the latter. And chaotic it would prove to be.

As Toni was out and Promise had been delayed by some family matters, Carla and Kitty started at the back for us. Carla, who has been crucial for us in midfield this season, struggled initially with her positioning. Accustomed to playing slightly higher up the pitch, Carla was blindsided by LFS’s left winger who had creeped behind her on a number of occasions (there are no offsides at Market Road).

LFS exploited this multiple times, pinging balls at her early in the game. They were able to latch on to one in behind and take a shot, which Malaika smartly saved, only to be tapped home from close range. Shortly after this, their centre back, who I had instructed the girls not to press (foolishly) as she has the ability to wriggle away from challenges with ease, played what can only be described as a sumptuous pass which took out every player on our team. Their left winger took a perfect first touch with the outside of her right boot and lashed a clinical finish past a helpless Malaika.

After a short lapse of concentration from Alexia and Kitty, who both left the ball thinking the other would get it, we turned possession over in a dangerous situation. Carla was exposed, having to cover their left winger and central midfielder. LFS capitalised on the space and found the spare player who finished with devastating effect.

In the space of a day, I had watched my teams experience 3-0 score lines in the first 10 minutes. The second of these being on the receiving end. What had been elation and energy at Anfield had turned into an intricate examination of my eighteen-month existence in this country at Market Road. Was this what I had come here to do? Watch helplessly as my own team were put to the sword?

We were very fortunate to have my friend and colleague, James Williams, with us on the side line. James was quick to pick up that Carla was being exposed and asked her to correct her positioning and body shape. He also instructed Georgia to think beyond her position on the left wing and exploit space where she could.

James is an anomaly. Usually, people as handsome as him get away with being vapid creatures, incapable of processing the collective human experience. Not James though. He is curious rather than judgemental. Kind rather than cruel. Instructive rather than impudent. Without him on the side line, events would have transpired differently.

It could have been even more grim as two gilt edged chances were snuffed out by last minute interventions. Firstly, Mailaika made an unconventional 1v1 save with her back to the striker. Followed by Karina’s superbly timed last-ditch tackle from behind which denied a tap-in at the back post.

After each goal that we conceded I showed no frustrations. I only asked for the errors that led to the goals to be addressed. At 3-0, one of our substitutes said that it was going to be a long day for us. My response to this was that there was still plenty of time to change the result. We were faced with a mountain to climb. But when you are a team full of goats, mountains are child’s play.

During the first 10 minutes, it was not that we didn’t have chances. It was just that we were not manipulating the space in effective ways to be able to execute the footballing actions that we are capable of producing positive results through. One of these chances came to fruition as Alexia picked up the ball after winning it back, driving high up the left wing. Her cross was deflected in by an LFS defender to bring us back within 2 goals. The only thing that I could hear was Clive Tyldesley’s voice saying “Hello”, with an upward inflection.

Minutes later, Rebecca found herself wrestling with LFS’s midfielder and was fouled in the process. The referee smartly played advantage as we built down the right-hand side through Karina. Her cross came in for Georgia, who had taken James’ advice and exploited the space in front of goal, leapt in front of her defender, finishing smoothly to cut the deficit to one. When you watch the footage back, you’ll hear me shout “We’re in the ascendancy here”. We could have even equalised moments later with a highly improvised shot off Rebecca’s chest, which  glanced off the post and out for a goal kick.

After a smart decision from Karina who won the ball in midfield and recycled it back to Mailaika, we were able to get forward with ease. Mailaika picked out Alexia with a first time pass who received on the half turn, deleted her defender and, from about 15 yards out, placed an exquisite shot into the bottom right-hand corner. A strike that Kevin De Bruyne would be proud of. With each week her finishing improves as she learns to control her natural gifts. Just like that it was 3-3. LFS were glad that the half time whistle was blown to give them some respite from our 15-minute onslaught. Their centre back was visibly frustrated, seen smashing the ball into the fence behind their bench.

I had two main points to cover with the girls at half time. I had no issue whatsoever with our output going forward. I was sure we could score more goals. My task was to solve the issue of us conceding goals. The girls were quick to come up with the solution of taking a few steps back and reducing the space that LFS had to run into. I also challenged them to keep the intensity off the ball that we displayed in the first half. And boy did they deliver.

I want to give a major shout out to four players in particular. Karina, Kitty, Clara and Mia. Karina, Kitty and Clara have been the three players that have taken what we have been working on in training as an opportunity for success, in the sense that they will harass the opposition to get the ball back. Whereas Mia, even without training, was tenacious from the get-go, to the point where she asked to be subbed off after 7 minutes due to exerting herself beyond her limits. To be clear, she did not stop running during that time. These players exemplified what I wanted to achieve from this game: make LFS uncomfortable.

The downside of being so aggressive off the ball is that there are bound to be gaps when you are unsuccessful in winning it. Luckily for us, we have players that not only can cover huge amounts of space, but seem to relish it. Promise and Carla snuffed out multiple LFS counter attacks and reduced them to taking low percentage shots. We rode our luck a bit with some skewed efforts and miskicks, but those are the instances that sometimes need to go your way if you are to beat the odds. Massive shout out to Georgia, who was in goal in the second half for being so assured with her hands and her feet.

My highlight of the match was a slide tackle made by Karina who blindsided LFS’s midfielder, swept the ball with what looked like her entire body and stood up with it at her feet. All in one motion. Her skin is apparently impervious to the effect of mass amounts of friction caused by 3G pitches when slid on. Apparently, they’re built differently in The Ukraine. At first, I was stunned into silence. Hands placed on the top of my head in disbelief. Then I shouted at her “That’s illegal”, in reference to where the action would be placed on the criminality scale. The players on the bench were confused by my statement, thinking it actually was illegal. I assured them it was not. It was glorious.

The game was back and forth with both teams looking for the winner. We managed to crash two shots against the top right corner of the goal. I looked at Carla and said in certain terms “we’re winning this game”. I thought it would be her that broke the deadlock for us when she won the ball back from LFS and jinked inside on her left foot to create a shooting opportunity. Alas, she slid the ball into Malaika, who’s shot was blocked. Clearly, she was still shaken by that first half despite the positive impact she had made for our team since. Usually that kind of opportunity is her bread and butter. I wonder what lofty heights my players could reach if they believed in themselves as much as I believe in them?

With the clock ticking down, I asked the referee how long was left in the game. He indicated that there was only 1 minute. Now, I was visibly frustrated. The chance to secure a famous victory was slipping through our fingers after deserving it based on our performance.

LFS had a goal kick. As such I instructed the girls to sit a little bit deeper. We could not lose this game after all that. If you had offered me a draw 11 minutes in, I would have pulled your arm clean off of your body in my haste to snap your hand off. They launched it forward and Georgia came out of goal to air swing (or fake kick) at the ball to win us a throw-in. The ball was thrown to Karina who smartly recycled it back to Carla. Carla then shifted the ball to the side line and heaved it forward, away from our goal.

The picture is now this: The ball is mid-flight heading towards LFS’s corner flag with their left back 10 metres ahead of Alexia. Three of our players sniffed an opportunity. Alexia sprinted to get in front of the LFS defender and shoved her off the ball. As this is happening Rebecca and Malaika made runs towards the goal, front and back post respectively, with the LFS defence scrambling to cover the space. Alexia squares the ball to Malaika, who finished into the bottom left corner to complete the comeback with the last kick of the game.

I took a few steps onto the pitch. Crouching down onto the turf I looked around the ground, trying to take in this rare opportunity. This sensation wasn’t new. It was what I felt at Anfield the day before. I was getting paid to watch a team that I love win a game whilst playing some breath-taking football. Not a bad 24 hours, that.

To say I was emotional would be an understatement. Rebecca has been asking to take a photo with the team for weeks now. There had never been a better time to commit to memory than the previous hour. Now that we have set the precedent, our ceiling is limitless.

Choosing a player of the match for this fixture would be a mistake. No player’s contribution was less than anyone else’s in this momentous win. I’m so proud of what this group has been able to achieve in such a short period of time. We steadily move to raise our floors and break through the glass ceilings that have either been placed on us or that we place on ourselves.

Despite the result we still have a lot to improve on. We were slow to shift the ball into space when we won it which often causes turnovers of our own and are yet to fully grasp positioning when we press, which allowed LFS to run at us when we were unable to win the ball high up the pitch. It is key to be prepared for the eventuality of counter attacks and unsuccessful pressing if we are to be aggressive. All in due course though. For now, we bask in the glory of the greatest comeback in Bloomsbury history (probably).

I’ve been with this team for just over 2 months now, blessed with a group of players who not only want to learn about the game, but unlearn the things that no longer serve them. If you were to ask me now if it was worth it, the answer would be, an unequivocal, yes.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U16 boys 5 vs 0 Highbury Wolves

A really positive and exciting performance from the lads to finish our CIYFL season in style. The boys were excellent in possession, linking well with each other and moving from front to back, quickly through the centre of the pitch. They were dynamic in their 1v1s, consistently beating their opponents for pace, power, and skill. Off-the-ball, the reaction time after losing possession was good and there was a fantastic team effort to reduce time and space for the opposition. The recovery runs were solid and the counter press was good. 5 fantastic goals rounded off a great team performance. It was a really fun day at the office on and off the pitch and I was treated to some wonderful attacking football.

I’m so proud of what the boys have achieved over the last few months. To go undefeated for the whole season in this league is a fantastic achievement and we have had some superb performances and results along the way.12 games: 11 wins, 1 draw. 45 goals scored, 10 conceded. Congratulations to all of the players who have played their part in winning this league title!

My favourite moment has to be the thunderbolt that Ellis unleashed for his third goal of the day. Collecting it from a throw-in on half way, Ellis juggles it briefly before setting himself and absolutely lashing one top-corner. Foot like a traction engine. The technique was incredible. The power was superb. And the placement was perfect. It’s about time one of those long-range efforts goes in instead of over the fence…

Ellis fully deserves the player of the match award today. A wonderful hattrick with 3 very well taken goals. As mentioned, his rocket was special, but he also added a wonderful close-control goal to round the keeper and finish coolly. A really direct and powerful performance.

Recently, we’ve been looking at our attacking play. The last couple of weeks have been focussed on spontaneous rotations and reactions within attacking areas, attempting to off-balance defences and create goal scoring opportunities. The purpose of our training games the last few weeks has been to encourage the players to start recognising how their movements and the movements of their teammates affect the space in attacking phases. The lads have started to gain a greater awareness of when/where/how to move in those tight spaces, beginning to notice when to allow a teammate space and when to support closer.

The next steps in our attacking play is to reduce the amount of straight lines we move in and begin to take our rotations to the next level. The end-goal is a truly fluid attacking structure where each player recognises space (either for themselves or their teammates) and moves in/out of those areas accordingly. The first step in this development is to get those heads moving more! The lads should be taking in more than just the ball position in future and should be considering how they can move (or not!) to move defenders and create space for others to move into.


Its semi-final day in the challenger cup and we face off against BFA U18’s. We’ve faced them 3 times this season with the outcome has been 2 draws and a win for the U18’s. Can we finally get a win over them this time? The game started off at a frantic pace. There is a final at stake and both teams come out the blocks quickly.

BFA 18’s win a free kick early on. Up steps Jaydon, who whips it over the wall but it’s saved by Tom. BFA 18’s have settled in a lot quicker and begin to dominate; it’s a proper cup tie with the tackles flying in. Midway into the first half we start to come into the game. Oscar brilliantly finds Saul, who beats 3 players and crosses to Marcus who shoots straight at the keeper. The game is back and forth with both teams searching for that first goal.

Tom fires a ball long, it’s missed by Jaydon and Naison is suddenly through, but he can’t get the ball under control and Jaydon recovers well. 10 mins to go until half time. We’re keeping the ball well, shifting them from side to side. The ball falls to Saul who drives forward, he finds Felix who crosses to Naison, he shoots and Saul taps in. 1-0 BFA U17’s!! What a move!! Clearly the moment of the match. 10 passes which lead to the goal.

The second half begins and we know they are going to take the game to us, so we plan to soak up the pressure and hit them on the counter attack. 10 mins into the half and its all BFA U18’s. Jacques gives the ball away in our half, it drops to Luca who volleys wide!! We can’t keep giving the ball away like that if we want to hold on to this lead. BFA 18’s continue to press. A ball is fired into Elliott who finds no.7 but he shoots wide!!

Midway into the half we start to get the ball down and play. We seemed to have weathered the early storm. All of a sudden a great clearance from Oscar, who always finds himself in the right place, leads to Markus being through on goal. He drives forward at pace but he’s tackled by Jaydon!! Its brilliant 1vs1 defending!!!

Last 10 mins of the game. A long ball by their keeper flies over Andrea’s head. Their no.10 is through on goal. He clashes with Tom and falls to the ground. Ref says no penalty!! Moments later, Felix and Bilal play a lovely one two. Felix shoots and the keeper parries right into the path of Naison who shoots into an empty net!! 2-0 BFA U17’s!!! Last kick of the game. Ben wins the ball off their keeper, rounds him and slots home for 3-0 BFA U17’s. We are into the final!!!

In training we worked on keeping the ball which lead to 2 of the goals. To improve we need to work on our fitness. We were exhausted physically and mentally which was bound to happen in such an intense fixture.


BFA went into the dead rubber match against bottom of the league Clissold Rangers, having wrapped up the league a couple of weeks prior. Coach Steve reiterated to the boys beforehand the importance of maintaining our high standards, showing desire and discipline on the field as our energy and attitude would reflect in our forth coming game against the U17s on Sunday.

We came out of the blocks firing – scoring 8 first half goals in a blistering 25 minute spell! The tempo of our play, combined with one and two touch passing patterns was too much for the opposition to handle. Luca Halliday had the half of his life, contributing a hat trick whilst laying on a further 4 assists. The player of the match. Clinical yet absolutely selfless at times, helping to set the tone for things to come! Luke, Yotam and Alexey added two goals apiece.

The second half was a completely different affair as we took our foot off the gas, gave some minutes to players that needed them and ultimately put the game to bed. My highlight of the match was Philo’s first goal of the season to round off a 10/10 performance from the team!

In training we focused on retaining possession in order to create chances in central areas. This was evident with the nature of our goals. To improve we need to focus on communication on the field, the importance of it, and how it looks ideally.


A highly anticipated challenge cup semi final against our Bloomsbury brothers was on the cards. We headed into the encounter in a good moment off the back of an emphatic victory in the CIYFL on Friday night. The match began as a feisty affair with some crunching tackles being made early on, as the under 17s clearly tried to disrupt our rhythm.

We had a couple of early chances, Jayden Irish forcing their keeper to make two top saves to keep the scores level. We were ultimately made to pay for a sloppy first half where we made too many unforced errors which lead to turnovers in possession. We were also second to every loose ball.

The under 17s made the breakthrough following a period of play that saw them create a string of chances in a couple of minutes. Build up play down our left hand side was not reacted to quickly enough, as we were left chasing players and the ball which eventually found its way through to the back post. A player was left unmarked and was able to fire a shot away which was turned in on the line in a questionable offside call. Another dubious shout from the referee saw a penalty turned down as we tried to put the pressure back on the under 17s.

The second half was a completely different affair. We started with a much better tempo and retained possession beautifully, making the under 17s chase possession all over the park. We created a couple of good chances of our own but finishing from Lukas and Jack was not what we have become accustomed to expect from them this season.

Another penalty shout as Yotam found his way in behind the opposition defence following a long ball upfield from our goalkeeper, getting to the ball ahead of the opposition goalkeeper before he was brought down in the box. No penalty! Referee gives the free kick the other way, they then go up the other end and score following a rebound. 2-0 down and absolutely rattled at this point, we rang some changes as we chased the game but ultimately could not find the cutting edge needed. The final nail in the coffin came, following another counter attack with the last kick of the game.

We hold our heads high and move on with lots to still play for this season! This was a defining moment in our season. How we react and respond will be key.

We had a session with the sports psychologists focusing on different personalities. The session focused on how they manifest and interact with each other on the football field. I thought it was a really positive session that allowed an open platform for players to discuss aspects of the team with each other before training.

Training was focused on retaining possession and building up the play in central areas. This was evident during our Friday match but we looked tired come Sunday.