With no Cup game planned due to half term it proved an ideal opportunity for us to play our year above U11s team in a 9 v 9 friendly with all the rules that involves I.e. Offsides, no retreat rule, goalkeeper rules, etc as we will be moving to this next year plus some end of season tournaments are 9-a-side.
Unfortunately Flynn and Max had both gone down with bugs so we had the bare 9 with Finn coming into our squad from the Roma team. We set out with a 2-3-1-2 formation and from the the kick off our boys seemed perfectly at ease with the system and pattern of play. The front two of Finn and Thomas Davenport were working extremely hard to close down the opposition and then Thomas Higgins, Nathan and Pearse pressed high up the pitch to win the ball and when Inter broke through that line Ryan picked everything up from a deeper role and kept the ball moving through the wide areas. Thomas Dykes and Thomas Mitchell were commanding and strong at the back with Daniel doing a superb job of talking and being available to play with his feet (No pick up from backpasses in 9v9 !).
It took the boys around 10mins to get a proper foothold in the game and it was then we started to utilise the width of the pitch and our two extra players. The movement and speed of breaks was a joy to watch and but for a superb performance from their goalkeeper Deako we would have been 6 or 7 up by half time. We had to settle for 2-0 with goals from Thomas Da, a wonderful finish, and a Thomas Higgins strike direct from an inswinging corner. All the boys had opportunities to score with Finn, Pearse, Nathan and Ryan all being thwarted by their keeper or a last ditch tackle.
We heaped praise on the boys at half time as they had certainly grasped the understanding of how we needed to play and more importantly the front boys had worked extremely hard to stay within the offside rule. We asked them to be a little more ruthless in front of goal and also to play the ball a little quicker with 2 and 3 touch football as with the opposition being older the more touches we have we will be inviting tackles and trouble.
The second half began as the first had finished, the front six in total control and the two boys at the back along with Daniel were commanding and dictating the play. Ryan was beginning to have more influence with his range of passing and the neat triangles that Ryan, Thomas Higgins, Thomas Davenport and Finn were starting to play were a joy to watch and the wide play of Nathan and Pearse was causing them untold problems. Again their keeper was in fabulous form and some of their last ditch tackling saved them on several occasions. We managed to add four excellent goals through Thomas Davenport's second, Nathan and two from Finn. Pearse, Thomas Higgins and Ryan were all foiled by a rearguard action by Inter. The final score of 6-0 was a credit to our boys and to Inter who kept going to the very end.
We gave all the boys a massive pat on the back for their work rate, attitude, understanding and general play considering it was their first time at 9 v 9. From back to front every single boy played their part in what was an excellent performance. Both Inter's managers Ian and Rick were full of praise for the way we played and Darren, the footballing mentor at the club, who refereed, heaped huge praise on the boys and the way we played football.
We could have given all 9 boys the Man of the Match today, but for his excellent work rate, appreciation of his team mates, the way he lead the line and his two goals the award went to a fully deserving Thomas Davenport.
Back to the Cup next week with a home game against Altrincham at Holy Family with an 11am kick off.