2 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss*
An early start today but a fantastic turn out by all the Saxons for the Sandbach Festival of Football.
Putting aside the astronomical price to park our cars in a wet uncut farmers field... It was a really well organised event, albeit a little unnerving for us on arrival, as we bumped into Robbie Savage and his youth academy team (fortunately an older age group). The festival attracts teams from all around the north west - travelling from Preston, Southport, Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan and Macclesfield etc. It's a great experience to play in these events, it is great for learning - the aim was to do the best we could and enjoy our football !!
Given we knew we'd be up against some very talented youth players... we set up with a defensive Christmas tree formation with 3 at the back. We were a little cautious and those early morning nerves showed at first but we patiently played for counter attacking opportunities... and eventually they came.
Cam N (who has been battling with a horrible leg/knee injury all weekend) showed everyone exactly why his teammates deservedly voted him as their Players player of the year by turning on the style... making some great drives forward and having some great strikes on goal... which on another day would have seen us 3 or 4 goals up but luck was not on our side for much of our opening game... until a small piece of fortune enabled us to scramble the ball over the line by our Managers player of the year... Charlie B... 1-0 !!
Next game came the Nantwich Town Dabbers ... leaders of our own local Soccer Centre red league. They are physically a big side and also very aggressive (I don't know if parents heard their coaching style but I was honestly stunned). Some of our players got singled out and received some rough challenges and elbows... which unsettled us a little but we didn't let it overwhelm us. The Dabbers however eventually got the upper hand, getting two past us and beat us fair and square.
Then came our final group game... against a Pro Football Academy (PFA) team who had won both their group games with some ease... so they were clear favourites... The odds were stacked against us.
The PFA team were impressive... talented individuals with wonderful first touches and who looked incredibly comfortable on the ball... using great skill and ability to move forward. Our game plan was simple... To press hard, stop them having any time on the ball, to work harder and always try and win every ball back. The boys were magnificent... everyone was switched on... everyone was hungry to deliver a big performance and everyone did.
Cam's troublesome injury made it too painful for him to continue so while Cam wanted to carry on, he admirably made way for another player to take his place after a few minutes... but continued to support his team mates from the sideline... a brave and humble thing to do. Well done Cam.
We kept applying pressure and eventually our counter attacking plan paid off... Some good passes started getting through to Charlie B and his strength, shielding and determination drove through and we were rewarded with a goal for all our hard work. Then came the PFA teams response - they piled on the pressure and eventually scored a great equaliser. Within 60 seconds of the restart we launched another counter attack and Charlie B managed to get on the end of a through ball to convert the winning goal... Absolutely brilliant !!!
The PFA teams pressure continued and it needed our Most Improved Player of the Year, Ryan Pritchard, to make a stunning finger tip save to take their wonder strike just over our cross bar... Superb !! Final score 2-1
Whilst Charlie B was awarded man of the match, I'm sure he would be the first to agree that every team mate played their part today... however large or small... Everyone made a difference... And everyone should be congratulated...
Ryan P, Harry B, Brodie M, Will G, Cam N, Ted M, James B, Aaron S, Will H, Joseph B, Hazza W and Charlie B... You are The Saxons... You have been fantastic all season and this win against the PFA team today was perfect reward for what The Saxons are all about... Sheer grit, hard work, determination and pure heart !!!
The moment after the game where all the boys linked with arms on their shoulders then put their hands together in the middle ... Shouted "Team Saxons"... showed fantastic team spirit and togetherness... Absolutely brilliant !!! This is what it's all about !!! Despite sharing the same points at the top of our group we hadn't scored as many goals so we just missed out on the Semi-Finals but that didn't matter one bit... because the boys loved the occasion and our team performance and team togetherness was "our win" today.
Huge well done everyone !!! A great effort and a great tournament !!! Looking forward to the next one.