Our first competitive fixture of 2022 saw the CTYFC U14 Rebels play host to Esher in a SYL Premier Elite league encounter. Despite training well in the week and having a game plan set, the best laid plans often don’t go how you envisage! Thanks to COVID and injuries we came to match day with just 12 available players, 2 of which were also carrying knocks. We started strongly and were soon on the attack and took the lead after just 4 minutes. Having won a corner down the left, James hung it up for Isaac to power his header low into the corner. It was 2-0 just a couple of minutes later. A free kick from the left was not cleared and Lewis did well to keep the ball alive on the right edge of the box. It was recycled back to Josh E on the edge whose brilliant touch and shot found the far corner from 18 yards. Esher pulled a goal back on 15 minutes following a lapse in concentration from our own goal kick. Soon after though Zahir delivered a good ball to Oli down the inside right channel and his shot from the right edge of the box across goal seemed destined for the far corner but the keeper found a finger tip safe to turn it round the post. Another defensive lapse saw Esher break down the right and the cross was turned in and suddenly it was 2-2. Dom then made a really good save with his legs shortly after having been 1-1 with their attacker to keep the scores level. HT 2-2. With the game finely poised we were forced into a change just 5 minutes into the 2nd half when Josh E was replaced by Luke. Josh E had come into the game with a back injury and for most of the game could not run freely so put in a great shift for the team. Esher then took the lead on 47 minutes when they scored with a header from a corner. With their tails up Esher kept the pressure on. With no more subs to call upon the boys had to dig incredibly deep as the pace of the game was beginning to take effect. The spirit of this team though is second to none and it was 3-3 in the 59th minute. Having put together a bit of possession and finding some incisive passes, the ball came in from the left and found its way to Zahir at the back post who lashed in with a swinging left foot effort. With just 10 minutes to go it could have gone either way, Dom making another great scrambling save to keep the scores level and Luca going close after a good run but his long range effort was well saved. In stoppage time we won a corner and James’s delivery was met again by Isaac with a strong header, Luca nearly managed to turn it in but eventually the keeper saved. FT 3-3. The boys really put in a shift and their determination should not be underestimated. Josh DK, JJ and Isaac at the back worked so hard as a unit and didn’t give an inch. George, James, Luca, Zahir and Lewis worked tirelessly all game and Luke and Oli up front ran themselves into the ground. Josh E played 40 minutes despite hardly being able to run. MoM could have gone to all 12 of them but Lewis in midfield and Isaac in defence were outstanding. An enthralling game that had a bit of everything - 2 bookings - 6 goals - great saves - near misses and 2 sides going at it - a great advert for top level grass roots football.