Churchdown Panthers Whites 3-0 Leckhampton Rovers Villa
Churchdown Panthers Whites 2-2 FC Lakeside Blues
It is fair to say it was a morning of mixed emotions for Coaches and Parents alike. Some fantastic passing movement going forward, coupled with some drastic defensive work going the other way.
The first game against Leckhampton was a good contest early on, with a flurry of corners for both sides. For Panthers, a Charlie Holliday corner could have been turned in by Josh Bird, but his miss-kicked. From the other side, a Toby Scott corner was turned over by Ben Murphy from close range. Panthers also came close through a well worked break by Charlie Holliday and Josh Bird, but the effort was turned wide by the keeper. Alex Fulford launched a long throw in, behind the Rovers defence for Josh to muscle through one on one, only to see his shot deflect off the far post. Toby Scott made every effort to get to the far post to turn in the rebound, but didn't quite get there.
The opening goal did eventually come from a corner. Taken by Charlie Holliday, there was a flick on in the box which fell to Alex Fulford a little further out, to hit a shot between defenders. Panthers then added a 2nd just before the break, when Josh Bird was just beaten to a through ball, only for the loose ball to find Toby Scott on the right, who hit a great shot back across the keeper. HT 2-0.
The 2nd half was pretty much 50:50, with fewer efforts on goal. Leckhampton made a good break away, with the attacker through 1 on 1 with our keeper, but Oliver Leathem-Pugh dived low to the left to make a great save. For Panthers, there was a chance for Ethan Streatfield, who was unable to get a full strike on his effort which was easily saved. Ben Murphy had an effort pushed back out to Shun-Ta Cheong, who then shot wide. Eventually we added a third. During a goalmouth scramble, the ball broke free to Ben Murphy on the edge of the box, whose shot was flicked in, on its way, by Ethan Streatfield. FT 3-0.
The first half of the second game was not pretty to watch, despite the best effort of the early exchanges falling to Panthers. A Ben Murphy cross went aganosingly across Ethan Streatfield, who was unable to turn the ball home. Despite this, Panthers were outplayed and out-muscled in midfield, and the pressure started to cause a lot of uncertainty in the players. The opening goal was weak from our point of view. Oliver Leathem-Pugh parried an effort, then all the Panthers players switched off, presumably thinking the ball was going out for a corner. However, a Blues forward kept it in and meandered into the box as all of our players stood and watched, as he poked it in at the near post.
Blues then had control of the play. Panthers did not appear to be switched on to the game, and panicky when they had posession. A ball over the top caught out Olli, but Robin Hanman had tracked back well to save on the line. They came close again with a great low cross into the box, which somehow everyone missed. Late on, Oliver saved and held on well to a long range effort, but we were lucky to go in at HT only 1 down. HT 0-1.
A rousing team talk and 3 substitutions at half time, and Panthers were back on level terms within a minute of the kick off. We broke with a good passing move, which Ben Murphy fired home. This gave us a lift, but we were still susceptible to a strong Lakeside team. Alex Fulford came out of nowhere to make a great sliding clearance, just as a Blues forward was about to finish when through on goal. They then added a 2nd, with the ever dangerous ball over the top finally paying off. It bounced over our defence for them to go through on goal and finish across the keeper. However, Panthers dug in. A break put Ben Murphy free on the right and his diagonal ball to the far post, fell to Toby Scott about a foot out, where it seemed more difficult to miss, but the contact wasn't there. Another break, again through Ben Murphy, but the effort at the top corner was about a foot wide. As we moved into the last couple of minutes, we switched to playing everyone in an advanced posititon, and it paid off with the last kick of the game. It was a goalmouth scramble during which the ball fell nicely to either Josh Bird or Ben Murphy, but it was Ben that got there first to prod home. FT 2-2.
The players seemed really tired for the second game, and didn't get out of the blocks in the first half. This was a bit disappointing, because there was some really good movement at times. Still, 4 points on a day where we were not at our best is a real positive.
The players were happy enough with the late point, and choose to celebrate in the water-logged section of the pitch...
Churchdown Panthers Whites 8-0 Charlton Rovers Blues
A good day on the pitch for Panthers, scoring plenty of goals and keeping 2 clean sheets.
Some early pressure in the first game, creating corners, from which one was turned home by Ethan Streatfield to give Panthers an early lead. Panthers then came close on a few more occasions, before they were able to add to the tally. Ethan was again denied by the keeper, who got up to save from Shun-Ta Cheong who was first to the rebound. The second goal also came from a corner. Again taken by Charlie Holliday, Alex Fulford met it on the volley to put us 2 up. Ethan had another shot saved and Alex put a shot across the keeper just wide, until we went in at HT 2-0 up.
A corner in the 2nd half led to the 3rd goal, with the cleared ball falling to Josh Bird on the edge of the area who drilled it home. We added to the lead, when a Robin Hanman goal kick hit long down field, was picked up by Ethan Streatfield, who cut back for Ben Murphy to score. Toby Scott came close, but didnt get any power into his shot when 1 on 1, before another long Robin goal kick went straight through to Shun-Ta Cheong, who had a first time finish. FT 5-0.
The second game started well, with an early goal starting with the goalkeeper, Oliver Leathem-Pugh. A long ball from the GK, bounced over the defence and Josh Bird was quickest on to it, calmly finishing under the keeper to open his account. Panthers maintained good pressure and came close on another couple of occasions, with Toby Scott smashing a Shun-Ta Choeng cross off the post, and Ben Murphy flashing an effort just wide.
The 2nd goal came when Shun-Ta intercepted a goal kick, played in Josh Bird, who passed across the keeper for Ben Murphy to tap into an empty net. The 3rd cam from a Toby Scott corner, which the defender couldn't deal with and defelcted into his own net. The next came from our goal kick which realeased Josh Bird. He played a 1-2 with Ben Murhpy before finishing. The as HT was approaching Ben released Shun-Ta who put a slide rule pass inside the defence for Josh to play under the keeper. The ball was going in, but Ben Murphy pounced and made sure from a yard out. HT 5-0.
Although we bossed the second half, it took a while to add to the tally. Shun-Ta put a couple of shots just wide. An effort from Alex Fulford, could have been deflected in at the far post by Josh Bird, but went just wide. Eventually we got the break through, with another develish corner from Toby Scott, that was again deflected in by a defender at the near post.
Toby Scott himself, then did add a couple of goals. The first was from a cross from Ben Murphy, which Toby scuffed a shot form, but it squirmed under the keeper. The next was more conclusive, when Toby intercepted a goal kick and drilled it back into an empty net. FT 8-0.
A tremendous effort from the team. Anna Barnes was in consideration for player of the week, with fantastic, strong defensive plat, but the player of the week had to go to Josh Bird. Not for the goals, but for his passing and link up play going forward.
It was a mixed bag for Panthers opening games of the season.
In the first fixture we entertained a Leckhampton side, full of big, strong lads, and were put to the test a bit. In truth, a fantastic performance by Alex Fulford in goal, was what kept the score down.
After a 50:50 first 5 mins, Leckhampton won their first corner. This dropped kindly in the box, only for Alex to save from point blank range. We faced sustained pressure for the rest of the half, having to deal with long balls over the top from the away side keeper. Late on in the half, Alex produced the save of the match. The Leckhampton midfielder found space on the right, cutting in to the corner of the box and drilling a shot across Alex. The ball was no doubt heading in the top left corner, until an athletic leap from Alex resulted in him tipping the shot around the post. HT 0-0
There was another good save early in the second half, before Leckhampton got their break. A long range effort along the floor, deflected off Robin Hanman in the Panthers defence, to wrong foot the keeper. Another point blank save from Alex, and a further stretch to tip another effort over the bar.
Then Panthers started getting posession a bit further up the pitch. Ben Murphy sent a free kick into the box, which Charlie Holliday turned goalwards, but it just caught the keeper and went agonisingly wide. We also created space in the box on another couple of occasions, but failed to make any decent connection with a couple of efforts. Late on Leckhampton developed a 1 on 1, only for their striker to be denied by the feet of Alex. FT 0-1
The second game, was against our Red U10s team, and turned out to be fairly one way.
Within the first few minutes we were 1 up. Charlie Holliday in left back put Shun-Ta in down the left wing. The cross from Shun-Ta, was tapped home by Josh Bird. We then intercepted possession quickly from the Reds KO, with Ben Murphy breaking through the middle to finish. A few minutes later, Toby Scott floated in a corner, which Ben Murphy acrobatically volleyed into the top corner. Shortly after, a throw was sent into the box, where Josh Bird was free to clip past the keeper for his 2nd.
Josh Bird then completed his hat-trick, finding himself unmarked at the back post from a corner, to tap home. Then it was Ben again, completing his hat-trick. Robin Hanman broke down the right, and crossed for Ben to stab home. Despite the goals, Tom Dove was having a good game in goal for the Reds. A point blank save, a save from a goalmouth scramble, and saving a long range effort from Ben Murphy, the most notable in the first half. In the last minute of the half Ben did get on the scoresheet again with a mysterious finish. Toby Scott sent a corner over, which Ben turned his back on, and stuck out his bum to deflect it in! HT 7-0
Ben went in goal for the 2nd half, to give Alex some time out of goal. It was an Alex throw in, that sent Robin Hanman free, to cross for Ethan Streatfield to crack home and get on the score sheet. Reds had more organisation in the 2nd half, and the Whites efforts were somewhat less. Toby Scott was denied by a good Tom Dove save at the near post. Alex Fulford flashed one across the goal, when he had perhaps more time. This all before Josh Bird got back in on the action, stabbing home during a goalmouth scramble.
Shun-Ta Cheong got on the scoresheet too. Intercepting a goalkick, he finished in-off the post. A later Alex effort was also saved. FT 10-0
5 of the goals, including Ben scoring with his bum:
It was a good test in the first game, and a great effort. Another day, maybe we would have knicked something. The second game was obviously a great performance, but not exhilirating, when you do it to one of your own!.
The players voted Alex Fulford as the player of the week. Despite the 4 goals for both Ben and Josh, Alex had really impressed his team mates, with the goalkeepnig heroics in the first game.
And in the blink of an eye, our first season of competition football is over! The picture above is from the start of September 2011, and shows most of the 28 players, that we split into 2 teams for the Cheltenham Youth Football League.
Even though we split into 2 teams of 14 (the maximum league registration), it is great to see that we have added Max Perry, Ben Bee, Luke Thurston and Maddie Power to my team, as well as Coel Richmond and Taras Wolczuk to the Colts side.
We knew it was going to be tough, cutting our teeth in the league, and the first couple of months proved that right for my team. In retrospect, the league proves that the fixtures did us no favours in the first half of the season, and it wasn't until mid December that we registered our first league win.
We kicked off our season with a 0-0 draw, but then went on a run of 8 successive defeats. Our only respite in this period, were friendly wins at home to Brockworth and away at Highnam, along with a penalty shoot out victory in the prelimanary round of the League Cup against Southside Tigers. November proved to be our toughest month, losing 4 league games, getting knocked out in the first round proper of the League Cup, conceding 18 goals in 5 games.
Overall, up until the 17th December, our league record was: Played 9, Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 8, For 8, Against 26.
Then the 17th Dec was the turning point. We went to Cheltenham to play Gotherington and Southside, winning both games and conceding no goals! This was so well deserved for our players who, despite the bad start, continued to give 100% every week.
Unfortunately, we were then into the Christmas break, followed by cancelled fixtures in January and February due to frozen pitches. Our first game back, was a defeat, but only marginally 2-3, before we got back on the rails, picking up 6 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat in the last 9 games of the season.
So we finished our first ever league season in 13th place, from 22 sides. A full list of results and match reports, can be found by clicking here.
The season was rounded off with the fantastic news, that all of the other club managers, and the League referees, had nominated Chruchdown Panthers Under 9s as the winners of the Sportsmanship Award for 2011-12. This was great news for us, a recognition of our effort over the season, and that our performance were noted as being performed with being sporting behaviour. The award was presented at the CYFL Football League awards ceremony, by Gareth Southgate:
What a great way to end the season, adding a couple of tournament wins to our trophy cabinet. Lets hope the momentum continues to next year.
Unfortunately, we lost Tom Mason toward the end of the season, as his family have moved to Winchester. It is also deeply unfortunate that we lose Austin Plemel, and his parents Lorne and Lana at the end of the season. We should not forget that Lorne and Lana were the people that started this very team, back in August 2010. Without them offering to start managing a team of then Under 8s, we would not be here to celebrate the success that we are now seeing.
On behalf of our team, I would like to thank Lorne, Lana and Austin for their contribution, and wish them all the best and a safe return to Canada in July.
In summary: A great season that has delivered above expectation for me. The improvements in the players over the course of the season has been considerable. I hope we can build on that. Most importantly, the support of the parents over the season is what really keeps the team going. Of course, there are the special mentions for Lee Hanman, James Leathem-Pugh, Paul Murphy and Lorne Plemel for their input to the coaching. However, everyone that helps putting the goals away, collecting the money, carrying some kit, bringing me cups of coffee, and just standing in a field to support their kids in the wind and rain, are very much appreciated, thankyou.
Next year, we are planning to have 3 teams, named in keeping with the British focus this summer (Jubilee, Euros, Olympics etc), the Reds, Whites and Blues:
Churchdown Panthers Reds - Managed by Richard Fernandes
Churchdown Panthers Whites - Managed by Russ Fulford
Churchdown Panthers Blues - Managed by Dave Carter
I hope to have more details in the next week or 2, along with registration details. I also intend to start up training again, around 11th-18th August.
Once again, thankyou very much, for an enjoyable and memorable season. I hope next season continues in the same vain.