York Mitchell Sports League Cup under-13s
This was a local derby with extra edge, as a high percentage of both teams attend Woldgate College and, indeed, play for the school team. This was a game between two determined and evenly-matched teams, played hard but fairly.
Pocklington were yet again unable to start with a settled defensive line-up, with the impressive Will Frasier absent and Josh Craven, the uncompromising centre midfielder ‘stopper’, also absent.
Pocklington started with Richard McKay moved to left back and Joey Cahill switched to right back with Jonty Peters and James Snowball as centre backs. Jack Potter was back in goal.
Connor Marshall played up front, Dan Litherland was on the left with Elliott Russell on the right, Matthew Pearson and Adam Falkingham were in the middle with George Booth operating as a defensive midfield/sweeper.
The opening minutes were fairly even with both sides passing the ball well and there were chances at both ends. It soon became apparent that this was going to be Jack Potter’s day - he gave an inspirational performance, showing courage with daring stops, great agility and safe hands - a rare misjudgment of an awkward bounce saw Jonty Peters clear off the line.
The deadlock was broken by the imperious Connor Marshall who broke through and, though seemingly left with no options and surrounded by three defenders, managed to score a goal of pure genius. Connor went on to totally dominate the rest of the half taking every chance and half chance that came his way, his fourth came from a superb lay off from substitute Alex Smith. Half time score: Marshall 4, Stamford 0.
The first half was all about finishing. Marshall was awesome, whereas Stamford lacked composure in front of the goal, Potter was inspired and James Snowball was a colossus in defence having his best game of the season, committed and strong with well-timed tackles, strong clearances and showed how to play simply and effectively with minimum risk.
Matthew Pearson stood out in the midfield and played an intelligent passing game, his quick feet helped the midfield control the opening half. Bevan Fisher came close for Stamford with a powerful header, just inches over the bar.
The second half saw a resurgent Stamford Bridge take the game to Pocklington and they showed incredible spirit, played some neat football and never let their heads drop. Pocklington rode their luck and gave away too many free kicks as Stamford pressure saw the defence creak, some kamikaze passing and a tendency by some players to try and dribble out of defence ultimately proved costly.
A patched up Dan Litherland, who had been hampered by a massive blister, managed a telling run down the left, put in a near perfect cross which was met by the head of Alex Smith whose effort was saved.
Against the run of play, a speculative shot from the inspired Marshall caught the Stamford Bridge keeper napping and the scoreline was 5–0, all scored by Marshall.
Stamford continued to press and George Booth headed off the line, Dan Litherland helped out and cleared one off the line. Justice was done however and a superb shot from Bill Oldfield was just reward for their impressive second half fight back.
Pocklington’s sixth came as Alex Smith broke free with only the keeper to beat and calmly sidefooted the ball into the net. Stamford pulled it back to 6–2 after another goal line scramble, which was well deserved.
It was a great team performance. Richard McKay and Joey Cahill battled hard in their unaccustomed positions; the midfield at times gelled really well, with Adam Falkingham and Matthew Pearson linking well with the wingers.
The great touchline debate concerns the positions of captain George Booth and Jonty Peters. Booth, with his ability to read the game and his pace, looks more effective and confident at the back and Peters looks more impressive going forward as an attacking midfielder in the Steven Gerrard role.
The rolling subs worked well this week and slotted in more comfortably. Alex Smith had his best game, Matthew McGurk looked more lively and had a good shot saved. Matthew Reany came on for his debut in the second half and was unfortunate in that this coincided with Stamford at their attacking best, always difficult to come on and adjust to the pace of the game.
It has to be said that Stamford had to contend with the dazzling effect of Jonty Peters’ new fluorescent green boots without the aid of dark glasses. Well played both teams. The man of the match was awarded to Jonty Peters.