The U11 A football team makes Cheam history | Cheam School

The U11 A football team makes Cheam history, coming second in IAPS National Football FinalsHaving qualified fourth in their regional competition, the Cheam U11A boy’s football team travelled to the IAPS National Finals at Queen’s School, Taunton knowing it was going to be a challenge.  The format was a group stage with six teams all playing each other, the top two progressing to the knock-out stages.Our first match was against Dorset House.  Cheam dominated but with small goals and only 6 minutes each way, we could not find the break through and had to settle for a 0-0 draw.  Next up was Bede’s School and the boys sensed that a goal would come.  Finally, after a headed shot was brilliantly saved by their keeper, Mani O pounced to scrabble the ball over the line for the winner.We then played a physical Chigwell team but our defence held strong.  We had most of the play in the second half and with the ball cleared off their goal line a couple of times, we had to settle for another 0-0 draw.  The penultimate match was against Wycliffe and a very well taken goal from James H gave us the 1-0 victory.  Eight points after four games. We played a very accomplished Downsend team.  The game was played at a furious pace with our midfield sprinting from one end to the other.  We thought we had scored – but the referee said the ball had not fully crossed the line.  Then in the next couple of minutes we conceded our first goal.  We threw everything at getting a goal back, but ended up losing 1-0.We then faced an agonising wait to see if we had qualified.  Having been 2-0 up in their last match, Chigwell were held to a 3-3 draw meaning they finished on only 6 points and Cheam progressed to the knock out with 8 points.  Downsend topped the group with 13 points.On to knock-out football. We faced Newton Prep in the quarter finals who had won their group.  Each of their players seemed to be more accomplished footballers than their Cheam opponent, but through team work, communication, and trying harder than them, Cheam had the upper hand.  We have several chances; one on ones with their keeper, goals cleared off the line, but it was 0-0 at full time.  Golden goal followed and Cheam threw everything forward.  After the six minutes of extra time, still the sides could not be separated.  It was penalties but fortunately the boys had decided who would take them before the game so there was no panic.Newton Prep stepped up first but Archie H saved heroically.  Mani O sent his effort into the top corner.  1-0 to Cheam.  Newton Prep scored their second as did Milo M for Cheam with a solid strike into the bottom corner.  The third Newton Prep player knew he had to score to keep them in the competition and struck a superb penalty – against the post.  Cheam were in the semi-finals!We faced Papplewick in the semi-final.  A team we know well and who we respect for some of the exceptional talent they have.  Our game plan was to beat their individual talent as a team.  Work together, frustrate them and take our chances.  It was a battle – no other word.  Our boys exhausted after extra time and penalties simply would not take a step back.  They won every ball, never stopped believing and ran back to defend until they could run no more.  Deep in the first half we won a free kick.  James R launched a perfect free kick towards their goal picking out James H who headed the ball into the top corner.  1-0 Cheam.  The boys knew they could win this.  The five minutes of the second half felt like an hour.  Wave after wave of Papplewick attack was repelled by the Cheam defence and the boys were almost too exhausted to celebrate when the final whistle went and they realised they had made the final.  Last two teams standing.As Cheam finished the semi-final, Royal Russell were already in formation waiting to start the final.  The extra time and penalties we had played had put us behind schedule.  The referee insisted the boys get ready straight away.  The Royal Russell coaches very sportingly asked the referee to give us 5 minutes to recover.The final was wonderful to watch.  Royal Russell were extraordinary.  They had amazing individual talent but were the only other school we faced who, like us, played as a team.  The combination was impressive and Cheam battled and threw themselves into defending and still searching for a goal on the counter attack.  Finally, perhaps inevitably, Royal Russell broke through and we were 1-0 down.  Cheam never gave up and never stopped searching for a way to snatch a come-back, but that was the final score.  Exhausted, but proud, the boys were applauded off the pitch having lost to the better team.  It was the first match in the knock out anyone had held Royal Russell to only one goal.The boys had come second in the IAPS National Finals, conceding only two goals in all eight games.  They had exceeded their expectations and proved that by playing as a team and never giving up they could beat almost anyone.  One of the tournament officials who had watched and refereed Cheam said “they are not the best bunch of footballers here, but they play as a team and just work so hard. They deserve to be in the final for their effort”.  He summed it up perfectly.  They should be very proud of their achievement, as we are of them.Flickr album: U11 Football 2019 | Height: auto | Theme: Default 

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