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Academy Match Reports


1st Mar 2024

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U9 gold boys 4 vs 4 london football school

2 early goals gave us the lead, but this invited pressure. LFS were able to get the game back to 2-2. Our half time talk was good and players understood what they had to improve. They took it on themselves to speak. I did not say a word.

Unfortunately two quick counter attacks from the opposition put LFS up 4-2. Our effort just wasn’t cutting it. However, some heart and desire from Rocco with a lovely finish in the bottom corner got the whole team up for it again. Wanting to get a goal back was the aim, as we put constant pressure on the opposition.

Ezekiel then went through on goal and was slid into. A questionable call from the referee, not awarding a penalty. The search for a goal continued. Some good pressure in the final minutes was the goal we were looking for. A squared ball into the box levelled up the game 4-4 with the final whistle blowing. These lads have turned from kids to players in a matter of months and I’m really proud of the teams development to get to where they are now. The journey doesn’t stop though!

My highlight was when Rocco, from a tight angle, hit the bottom corner like we have practiced in training. It put a smile on my face. Ezekiel was our player of the match. The way he was gliding through players and creating chances was the energy we needed to get back into the game. In training we have looked at different types of finishes from different angles. A couple times we tried this in the game so this was good to see! We even scored a goal from this. Next week we will be looking at building up the attack which was evident that we need to work again!

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U10 girls 0 vs 4 youngs Fc

We did not score any goals against the Youngs. Overall, the team was not focused, and as a result, we could not seem to master the basics. The touches and passing were directly into the opposition. The main point of feedback was also related to overall effort. Whenever an opposing player came to tackle the ball, our team seemed to give up midway through when following through. Being strong could have resulted in our team winning the ball.

We discussed this with the team, and there was a slight improvement at the beginning of the second half. The things we worked on in practice for weeks were not executed on the pitch. Hopefully, this is related to the team returning from half term and having a week off from training, and we can get the focus and attention back this coming week in training, then in our games.

There were some good moments on goal, but overall we have performed much better in other games. Aniera had some really great shots on goal, our player of the match. She did well in goal and then stepped up and attacked the goal when she went back onto the pitch. She brought a lot of energy in the second half and had many near goals with some great shots.

Unfortunately, many of the things we worked on in practice such as getting goal side, finishing one-touch and effective passing were not executed. There was an overall lack of focus. To improve we need to work on our focus/commitment to better passing and play as a unit with good communication. We are going to work on following through, especially if you lose the ball, and also how to be aggressive to win the ball.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U10 Gold boys 5 vs 2 Sport London e Benifca

A really good performance where we put in a good shift, creating a lot of chances along the way. It started off with Teo scoring a really nice goal just inside of the box after he received a cutback, took a few touches to get past his defender and slotted in the bottom corner. My moment of the match. This was then followed by Marcelo getting a goal and Laurence putting himself on the scoresheet as well. Ayan capped things off by scoring 2 goals as well. The opposition goal being scored by Marcelo as our opponents had one less player and we accommodated by letting them use one of our own. Overall a really well rounded performance both offensively and defensively.

My player of the match was Pax as he put in a good effort wherever he was played, kept encouraging his teammates and was positive throughout. This week we have been going through our topic of building the attack, looking into our off-ball movement and how we can use it to help us attack. I felt I saw glimpses of this in our play and contributed to one of ours goals. We can be better next week by putting more emphasis on our off-ball movement and trying to show it on more of a consistent basis and I feel this can take us to the next level.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U10 black boys 4 vs 0 The Voice FC

A great performance from our boys as we put in a lot of effort to get the win. Our match started off pretty even with both sides having some good chances before our goal with Louay winning the ball back and striking it into the goal from quite a distance. This was followed in the second half with Franco scoring from our corner with an unconventional finish to seal the game for us. It was a performance to be proud offensively and defensively with each and every player putting in maximum effort to win this game. My player of the match was Nico as he performed really well in the positions he was played in exhibiting the Bloomsbury values we want to adhere to and show.

This week we have been going through the topic of building the attack looking at our off ball movement and how it can affect how we attack. I feel this impacted how we progressed the ball and made us much more dangerous going forward in glimpses. I feel we can be better by continuing to apply this concept in greater fashion. Working one our off ball movement more elevating our danger in attack is the next level of progression.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL academy U11 black boys 3 vs 5 FC Marylebone

After the poor performance and result at the weekend it was important to see a reaction from the team. Even though the result didn’t go our way there was a clear improvement in the way we played and the performance level of the team. If not for more accurate shooting and a world class performance from the opposition GK we would have won the game convincingly.

The start of the game was even with both teams battling well and keeping possession. But Blooms started to dominate with Kurt and Deniro both having shots at goal. The pressure then paid off with Deniro firing into the bottom corner. We couldn’t capitalise on the performance and get the next goal, mainly due to the keeper making some great saves from Joao and Edgar. The game then turned on a suspect penalty which levelled the game. Within 2 minutes it was 2-1 as Marylebone scored an easy goal from a quickly taken corner with Blooms not being set quick enough. Right before the end of the first half Bastian and Santi combined with Santi through on goal, but again the keeper got down to make a smart save.

At half time it was important to drive home the positive message – on the whole we had been so much better in possession and if we just got our shot away we could get the next goal. We again started dominating in possession with more shots on at goal. But again, through a long range free kick they were able to get a header on target and get into a 3-1 lead. Frustratingly again though we conceded from a counter attack quickly after to go 4-1 down and giving us a mountain to climb.

This didn’t stop the team playing – they got back into their groove and had shot after shot, chance after chance. Shots were either blocked, marginally wide or save after save from the keeper. The play was outstanding pass and move football creating so many chances. The goal finally came again from Deniro with a smart finish. The boys were on the hunt for the next goal…but were once again done on the counter attack chasing the game. The team didn’t stop trying though and kept working the ball, Santi scoring the third goal as a consolation. It was a disappointing result but the performance had so many more positives compared to Sunday. Even though we aren’t getting the results the performances are improving.

Deniro’s first goal of the game was my highlight of the match. It came from some great passes. Ball out wide to Deniro on the left who cut on the outside left and drove a shot into the far corner! Joao Richard de Souza Suchocki was our player of the match. Joao was all over the pitch, keeping possession and winning the ball back several times. A joy to watch at times with his touches and movement and deserved a goal!

We have been working on our passing and movement off the ball. We did this regularly in the game especially in the second half moving the ball at pace and accuracy all around the pitch. We need to make sure that if we concede a goal we don’t drop our heads straight away and concede again quickly after. This has happened a lot recently and it’s key to stop this as it makes our job coming back in games even tougher.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U12 girls 6 vs 1 MLS

It was against 6 players, however the attitude from the girls was amazing even in the warm up. Superb levels of concentration. Despite being a player up we stuck to playing our football. Playing out from the back with some amazing play on show! Great result after a bit of a recent slump, with a lot of happy faces. A big thing was to celebrate, when we scored go give a high five or pat on the back, and if the goal scorer isn’t celebrating get them to celebrate! This definitely was shown (even a cartwheel brought out).

Lauryn was an absolute rock in defence, nothing got past her. After spending the first half in goal, she came out onto the pitch and not only made some amazing tackles, but ventured further up the pitch with her dribbles, allowing us to create more chances in the final third. We worked on positive and specific communication in training, specifically when passing. Not panicking under pressure and giving clear instructions to our teammates as to where to send the ball, which was definitely shown. We will continue to work on our communication skills, introducing new technologies to make our passing more effective and efficient.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U13 gold boys 1 vs 1 Maccabi

A traditional cup tie, where the score line does not reflect the way the game went. Unfortunately for our u13 boys, it was just one of those days where no matter how many chances we had, we could not finish the game off. The game started off with us dominating possession and Maccabi attempting to catch us on the counter attack, and it continued this way throughout. Possession was probably 75% to 25% and shots were probably 30 to 3 but we have to admire their persistence to defend and hold us to a 1-1 draw.

Maccabi took the lead after around 15 minutes and set their stalls out to defend that lead. We were very persistent throughout, and constantly created chances but could not find the back of the net until the last 15 mins, when Tristan played a great ball over the defence to find Rupert who was in a lot of space at the back post, finishing on the volley for his 20th goal of the season.

A good lesson to learn for the boys, as we were frantic, desperate even, to score a goal. This took away from our decision making at times, shooting from distance when we could have worked the ball for a better opening. At times we would try to find an extra pass when we should shoot. Football is a funny game. It was a good learning experience for the boys against a team that looked as though they enjoyed working hard and defending.

There were moments of great football, where we really took advantage of the space and the positions certain players were taking up. We created quite a lot of chances by moving the ball 2 or 3 touches at times. Its fantastic to watch sometimes and great to see how capable they are of playing superb football.

Our player of the match was Tristan Turner. Tristan was dominant from start to finish, aggressive and intense in and out of possession. He looked to create chances throughout the game with his usual superb passing ability and worked really hard to win the ball back whenever he or the team lost it. Tristan epitomised everything needed in a game like this.

To improve we need to be more decisive in the final third which will then allow us to be more clinical with taking our chances. A lot of our decisions and finishes were very rash and rushed, being composed in those situations will allow for a better thought process and therefore a better decision which will then lead to a better outcome.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U13 black boys 5 vs 1 Enfield Rangers Youth

This was a friendly match, probably the first one for us this season, but we were looking forward to it anyway. A challenging match as our team had not played for four weeks due to bad weather. To add to this, we did not have any substitutions. A tough situation to deal with. So, this friendly gave us time to play and to keep our sharpness and to be ready for the upcoming match against Borehamwood Wanderers.

The kick-off was at 10:45am and our team started off pretty well. We scored a quick goal in the first minute of the match when Lorenzo received the ball on the left side of the pitch, drove with it, went past two defenders and hit the bottom left corner making it 1-0. The opposition struggled against us so we took advantage of the situation. Our defensive line was pressuring up, moving towards the half-way line and our attackers were creating a lot of chances. We were playing 3-5-2, for the first time and it worked out pretty well. The opposition had no chances and whenever they were trying to create an attack or a counterattack our defence would stop them and eliminate the threat. Towards the end of the first-half one of our two strikers Eben, scored a second goal for us, when the opposition failed to clear the ball from their box and our striker dribbled through and slotted home. HT: 0-2.

During half-time the players were praised for their efforts as our team was working exceptionally well in every part of the field. Our midfield trio was excellent and they were making key passes and they were finding our strikers at their feet giving them the opportunity to score. Our goalkeeper was on point with his saves so the match was going pretty smoothly for us. Just before the second-half one of our players unfortunately had to leave so we were forced to play with ten players.

Once the second- half started our striker, Eben, found a quick goal, making it 3-0. He received a great ball from the midfield, passed through the defenders and took a shot, scoring his second goal of the match. The opposition did not give up and they were trying their best. In fact, they even scored a goal when we lost the ball in their half and with a quick counterattack on the right side of our defence, their striker took a long shot which our goalkeeper was unable to save. The rest of the second-half was a bit sloppy. We lost our focus and our performance started to decline. Luckily, this was no problem for us since Eben scored his hattrick goal and Lorenzo capped the performance off with a late goal. FT- 1-5.

After the match, the players were praised once again for their efforts, but they were reminded to try to maintain focus and keep their performance up, even if our team is leading by a lot of goals. My favourite moment would be after the match, where all of our players had a great time and enjoyed themselves. It is difficult for me to choose one player of the match since all 11 players were amazing in their positions and and did what they were asked.

We’ve talked about discipline and focus during trainings and matches and this is what we wanted. If we have those two traits and have a clear mindset, then we can perform and be the best versions of ourselves. We can definitely be better and do not become disinterested when we lead by many goals. We always need to stay focused and our aim is how to become better and better through our training and matches.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U14 boys 6 vs 2 Hinton and Finchley Revolution Heroes

The U14s put in a very dominant and complete performance this week to continue our run of good form. The boys are reaping the rewards for their hard work and commitment to training in recent weeks, showing improvement week on week! The team played with great composure in possession, regularly stringing 6-7 pass moves together, moving the ball well around the opposition press, and choosing the moments to play directly. We created chance after chance through skilful play from the attackers. We could have scored even more on another day with more clinical finishing.

The defence did very well to limit the opposition to few chances throughout the match, winning their individual duels, covering for each other, and communicating well at the back. Hinton and Finchley only had 2 shots at goal from inside our penalty area, which shows how difficult we made it for them to create goal scoring opportunities. It would have been great to keep a clean sheet but two wonder strikes at the end of each half kept Hinton and Finchley in the game.

My favourite moment of the game came when John Ribeiro scored the final goal to make it 6-2 in the last minute of the match. Luca Johns played a brilliantly weighted through ball in behind the opposition defence for John to run onto and show his speed and determination. He finished calmly past the goalkeeper and ran to the corner flag to celebrate. It was fantastic to see all of the substitutes run towards him to join in the celebrations. It really highlighted the togetherness and friendships in the team at the moment!

Rubens Baron was the player of the match for the second week in a row. He scored an impressive 4 goals, using his pace and power to stretch the opposition defence time after time. He is starting to time his runs better and also to combine with our other attackers in the final third. He now has 9 goals in 2 matches, and is second in the WFL scoring charts, with 28 goals in 13 matches!

For the past two weeks, we have been working on the counter-press in training, trying to highlight the importance of work rate to win the ball back within six seconds as soon as we have lost it. This not only stops the opposition from creating chances but also is a fantastic way to create chances for ourselves. It was very encouraging to see 3  of the 6 goals come from winning the ball back in midfield and springing dangerous counter attacking moves at goal.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U15 girls 2 vs 2 PSA

Most of the girls weren’t too confident coming into this fixture, due to our opponents being first whilst we were last in the table. However, the change in mentality and intensity during training this month began to bear the fruits of our hard work as a team. Another positive going into the game was that we at least had a full starting team, something we’ve only managed once before. Shola started in goal, and Elliott made her debut in defence alongside Hannah, Nina and Tanya. Another debutant, at least during my time as coach, was Tessa in midfield, alongside Emily and Laura, and Yas played as our sole attacker.

We tried a more pragmatic approach to congest the central areas and make it difficult to play through us, something the girls did exceptionally well. The first half was a real battle of attrition, with both teams playing well yet struggling to make many clear cut chances. Yas’ pressing from the front was fantastic, and whenever she got on the ball she posed a serious threat. The midfield trio worked tirelessly in all phases of the game, making penetrating forward runs, providing constant support options, and covering defensively for one another as well as tracking back to deal with the long ball threats. The defence started a little slow but grew in confidence and became more solid as the game went on.

A high and long ball bounced awkwardly into our box, and a bit of miscommunication led to the opposition striker getting to the ball first and lifting the ball over Shola. Despite Nina’s best attempts to clear it off the line (so close!), PSA took the lead after 15 minutes. Yas used her incredible intuition to shoot straight off kick off completely catching everyone, including their keeper, off guard. Although the shot was just wide of the post, it was a statement of intent that Yas was not leaving the pitch without a goal.

At half time we spoke about three things; closing the spaces between each other and the spaces between the attack, midfield and defensive lines, pressing only when the ball is in our half to help limit the space, and taking more risks/shots, as there was still something to play for. The second half saw BFA notch it up a gear; our combinations were slicker, our runs were more devastating, and our defence was more difficult to beat due to how compact we made it. It seemed like we wanted it more, as we were much more dominant in duels.

Yas’ statement of intent came to life after 36 minutes, when a ball forward from Laura wasn’t dealt with by the defence, bouncing up for Yas to volley into the top right corner with her left foot. Her surging runs and quick feet proved too hard to handle, as she was brought down just on the edge of the box minutes later. It was a great effort that went up over the wall, but just wasn’t able to come down under the bar in time. She got another bite of the cherry in the 41st minute and corrected initial attempt; this time it hit the bottom of the bar, bounced kindly off the keeper and into the net, putting us ahead for the first time this season! Had it not been for a very harsh penalty against us with the very last kick of the game, we would’ve secured our first proper (non-forfeit) win.

My moment of the match was during the last 5 minutes of the game. 2-1 up and on the cusp of a major upset, every single player on our team believed we could win, and this was reflected in their courage, determination and effort. I have never heard us communicate so much on the pitch, and worked so effectively in defence. The only thing the opposition could do was boot the ball long, as we completely suffocated them when they tried to pass and dribble through us in this time period.

This may be the only time I ever do this, but everyone deserves player of the match for Sunday’s game. Our level of performance as a team was the highest it’s ever been, the communication and teamwork was brilliant, and everyone not only understood the stakes of the game, but rose to the challenge and exceeded even their own expectations as a team. This level of performance is what we’re now referring to as ‘the bar’; we know what we’re capable of when we put in the required effort in. If we can almost collect all 3 points off the league leaders, we can certainly get 3 points from the other teams in our league.

But, we must strive to reach and go above the bar at every opportunity, at training sessions, during the warm ups and especially during matches. We had previously spoke about “train how you play”, and the girls really put it into practice during the week’s training leading up to the match. The intensity was high, the quality was great and everyone was a lot more focused. Despite missing a week because of half term, we came back with a great attitude.

The standard has been raised, the bar has been set, under no circumstances do we allow ourselves to drop off. It’s imperative we hold ourselves accountable and strive to improve. There is no doubt in my mind we’ll click soon and begin to win games more regularly!

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U15 boys 2 vs 11 Kings Langley

A tale of two halves, BFA opened their Spring Cup account with a tough trip away to semi-pro outfit Kings Langley. With tough logistics leading to a depleted squad consisting of 11 players for the first half, and 10 players for the second half, BFA started the game cautiously. Looking to remain disciplined and hard to break down – an approach that worked for the opening 25 minutes which visibly led to frustration in the opposition camp. Concentration levels were tested as a result of having less possession and having to defend more than usual against the team sitting top of the division above, and this led to BFA being undone twice in a 5 minute period.

The first, concession of an unavoidable penalty, followed by a strike from the edge of the box that made its way through a sea of bodies. However, BFA still posed a significant threat, especially from wide areas as four chances were close to being converted before the half-time whistle sounded. Missed opportunities that would’ve changed the dynamics of the match.

The second half was to be a different story with one less player creating pockets of space across the pitch for the opposition to exploit. A lack of a recognised goalkeeper has also taken its toll this season and continued to do so as 9 unanswered goals, the majority from rebounds from good saves flattering the opposition. BFA can come away from the fixture with a lot of positives however, particularly from the 2 goals scored directly from free-kicks courtesy of Mark and Rayane,  and the ability to work as a team to frustrate football-playing opposition.

Visibly seeing frustration and panic on both opposition players and coaching staff after a dominant 10 minute spell from BFA late in the first half was my highlight of the match. Ebenezer was our player of the match as he led the team fantastically, remaining positive throughout and using the ball very well when in possession. To improve we need to ensure our concentration levels stay consistent and that we never let our heads drop.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL foundation U15 1 vs 5 Alexander Palace

I was happy with how we tried to play; a lot of through balls and getting the ball forward. We’ve been working on this during the week. Our overall shape has improved regarding in and out. Still, we need to be improve with regards to individual positioning and understanding. I was really pleased with the attacking line and midfield partnerships.

We just need to work on individual techniques regarding possession and how to look after the ball. Identifying the signals and moments where to keep the ball or to release it. The game was recorded and I hope the boys have been watching their performance and also the teams performance overall. We also did well on working out how they played from the back. That’s how we scored our goal with a well timed press. Special mention to Sammy, Roka, Ayub, Nizar and Daniel for good performances. Roka being our player of the match.

We’ve been working on breaking the lines with through balls. Hopefully this will help us move the ball forward and up the pitch. We will also be working on flick on headers.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U16 girls 1 vs 4 Londong football school

This was a big game for us. LFS were the team that we versed twice in the space of 3 days when I started my coaching tenure with this group. We went on to lose 8-1 and 2-0 in those two fixtures. Just over a month on, I wanted to show not only the opposition, but more importantly the girls, what outcomes could be achieved through consistent work.

The morning of the game I received some bad news. 2 players who had planned on attending were going to be out, bringing our squad size down to 8 for a 9-a-side game. Panicking, I asked the Under 15s if they could lend us some players knowing full well that they would not get to the game until after half time. 5 minutes before kick-off we had 7 players ready to go. Miraculously, two players turned up and we were able to start the game with 8 players until the last one could get their kit on. A chaotic start to the afternoon.

This clearly affected our game play as were not ourselves during the game. Unable to combine with one another, making rash decisions and slow to become compact when we did not have the ball. The latter was key in LFS getting their first goal as our back line was languishing deep in our own half playing the entire LFS attack on side. They ran at us with force and purpose, finishing coolly into the roof of the net to take the lead.

Things would get worse as Rebecca would came off after 10 minutes with an injury sustained in training last week. Down to 8, it was going to be an uphill battle from there on in. I wont mince words; I was flustered. I didn’t even make any changes to our shape after Rebecca vacated the right-wing, leaving Kitty to deal with the entire right side on her own.

If her first few duels were anything to go off, Kitty would be overrun on her own. Their left winger darted past her on both occasions with ease. Unfortunately for the opposition, Kitty is probably the most coachable player I have ever had under my care. I asked her to be a bit more patient when she was defending and not rush in, and you’ll never guess what she did; exactly that. Kitty did not lose a single duel after that in the first half. Her impact was so large that the opposition switched their left winger to the right just to be rid of her menacing tackles. It was the highlight of the match for me. She is every coach’s dream player and our player of the match.

Despite being a player down we never looked like conceding, even carving out a glorious chance for Hanna to slot home 1v1 with the keeper which she placed just wide of the goal. Hannah came to me after the game and was almost in tears for missing this chance. I’m never disappointed in players for missing chances. I would more concerned if they were not getting the chances in the first place. Unfortunately, after a loose pass back to Malaika, our goalkeeper, from one of our centre backs (which was followed by a squeal of displeasure) LFS’s left winger was able to duck in and steal a goal. Half time score: 2-0.

I was stern at half time (even though I took a few moments to compose myself via some calming breaths after the chaotic nature of our pre-game warm up). We were not playing to our level as we got sucked into personal battles with the opposition. Forcing us to become a team full of individuals. Fatigue was, of course, a factor. Playing with one less player for 25 minutes on such a large pitch was draining for the girls and I could see that on all of their faces.

The instructions were simple: let’s start playing together and compress the pitch when we don’t have the ball. We also changed shape in the second half to adjust to the lack of numbers to a 3-3-1 from our regular 3-2-3. This would, in theory, stop them from running through the centre of us when we lost the ball.

The second half was much better from our perspective. The girls battled hard and combined on a number of occasions to create some good chances. The best of which was when Alexia robbed their centre back of the ball and drove forward to create a 1v1 situation. Her effort was strong, but just too close the keeper, who pushed it away from goal. Alexia was first to react and kept the ball alive where she was met by a defender who, in her haste, knocked heads with Alexia. The referee, for some reason unknown to me, decided to award a drop ball to the opposition. An odd decision, but then again, I’m not a referee.

We continued with the match and our fatigue levels were starting to show as LFS bagged two more goals. One of which was a rebound from a save from second half keeper Tori and the other a ball over the top into the space where our extra player would have been.
Reinforcements finally arrived, as the under 15s entered the pitch following their game. The extra player proved to be the difference maker as we now had a spring in our step to try and get a goal back. Big shout out to Emily, Hannah and Tanya for playing up for us in our time of need.

With 5 minutes to go Alexia found herself on the left-hand side with a defender in front of her. As she does, she made light work of the opponent and fizzed a ball into Hanna (something of a trademark for us) who had her first shot saved, but then tapped in the rebound. More than we deserved after a valiant effort.

LFS looked flat, so I challenged the girls to score 2 more goals before the end of the game. The opposition looked confused at my attitude. What can I say, I believe my team can do anything. Alas, the score was to remain the same. A reality check for us and a reminder of how far we still have to go.

In training last week we worked on playing out from the back. It was great to see the girls try this to some level of success against good opposition. To improve we will work on receiving the ball on the half turn and counter pressing when we lose the ball. These are the building blocks which lay the foundations for stronger performances in the future.

BLOOMSBURY FOOTBALL Academy U16 boys 2 vs 3 Pro Elite

Overall, this was a tough game against a well-organised and intense opponent. The first half was well below standards and Pro-Elite deservedly took a 2-0 lead at half-time.
The second half was much much better, as the lads raised their game and their intensity to begin to take control of the game. We scored early in the second half, but were pegged back immediately again. Marc brought us to 3-2 after getting cleaned out in the box. The game was very much like a basketball game in the final 10-15 mins and was very end-to-end. Unfortunately we couldn’t find that goal to take us to penalties.

My favourite moments came off-the-pitch rather than on it today. I have tried this season to be less forceful with my coaching style and to give as much autonomy as possible to the players. Whilst this has had varying degrees of success, with some taking more responsibility for their learning and others maybe relaxing a little, I believe the group as a whole can take that step to be more autonomous.

At half-time and full-time, the team-talks were very player-led, which was brilliant to see from my perspective. Zak and Ellis both spoke at length at half time, highlighting the key issues and offering suggestions, criticism and solutions to solve our problems. Two really good pieces of leadership from them both and everything that they pointed out was correct and in my notes, which is a good sign! The second half was much much more positive but we missed out on scoring that all important third goal.

At full-time, again, the analysis was very player-led. Rather than speak on what went wrong and look behind us, the conversation saw the lads looking internally a little more and was directed more toward the future. Bailey in particular contributed well, speaking of the standards that we set for ourselves and how, as a collective, we haven’t met them. The lads spoke of the changes needed in their own behaviours and I spoke on the personal responsibility each needs to take to push us on further.

I’m reminded of a quote by MLK Jr, which sums up how we all need to view our role within a team structure: “”In a real sense, all of life is interrelated…Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” I hope the players can look inward and relate to those words moving forward.

I’d like to give a special mention to Zak, who played really well through injury, and Jake, who had an excellent game in multiple positions. Bailey took a real leadership role throughout the game, and others like Marc and Ellis were excellent on the ball. James was immense at the back in the last 10-15, withstanding a lot of pressure, often when out-matched for numbers. Tough to call between a lot of players for player of the match today.

There are many lessons that we are consistently being given over the weeks this season. The same lessons over and over. It is clear from our conversations that the players are observing these lessons each week, understand why and how they are happening, but have yet to take those steps to rectify the situations that are occurring.

The first step is personal responsibility. Making sure that each individual is setting good personal standards, arriving early, warming up properly, taking responsibility for their roles on and off the ball. Then the lads can begin to take more responsibility for their collective actions. They are identifying issues, tactical tweaks and so on, but haven’t the voice or perhaps the confidence to take that responsibility and problem-solve within the moment.

I hope that the players will begin to feel able to constructively work together within the moment on-pitch and will be able to communicate with each other in the heat of the moment to make improvements in the present, rather than reflecting on what could have been done in the past. In short, our next steps should involve moving towards being a team of ‘thinkers and doers’ rather than just a team of just ‘doers’.