York Mitchell Sports League - Under-13s
This long-awaited fixture against Pocklington’s arch rivals for the title was played with a degree of trepidation with some players missing due to holiday commitments, others being able to play due to a shuffling of arrangements, and others like Elliot Russell and Jonty Peters playing despite not being fully fit.
A visibly pumped-up and determined Pocklington started brightly and shrugged off the customary robust RI challenges and showed they could mix it, giving as good as they got. An uncompromising opening 10 minutes with Pock in control set the tone for the match as Pocklington were able to ultimately play some flowing attractive football, a triumph of technique over cynicism.
This was Pock’s best team performance of the season with every player raising their game and showing passion, grit, determination and skill against a previously unbeaten RI team. Dave Pearson and Jay McGurk got their team selection just right and didn’t make any changes until the second half.
It is customary in match reports to overemphasise the impact of the creative players and the goal scorers. In this match the unsung heroes deserve a special mention. Jack Potter in goal, calm and composed, did everything right and made a superb save when an RI player was through on goal. George Booth and James Snowball, the central defensive pairing, were in commanding form, Will Frasier, at right back, showed great defensive qualities combined with attacking flair and Josh Craven at left back was not in his comfort zone but stuck to his task with total commitment.
Joey Cahill as sweeper was terrier-like and never gave the RI forwards any time or space. Matthew Pearson added a hard edge to his play and was determined to be first to the ball. The enigmatic Jonty Peters had the game of his life, boundless energy, totally focused, superb passing and movement, always an attacking threat, and tracked back well. Dan Litherland and Elliot Russell were as determined and focused as ever and provided the predatory Connor Marshall with plenty of ammunition.
The first goal came from Russell with Marshall as the provider. This followed a period of Pocklington pressure after Peters, Marshall and Litherland all came close, as did Snowball from a well-hit free kick. RI soon hit back from a well-taken corner and a war of attrition was anticipated.
That man Marshall had other ideas as he quickly made it 2-1. Litherland came close forcing a corner, Marshall soon added his second, and another Marshall effort from a lovely pass from Peters was just over.
Half time with Pock now dominating the match.
For the second half, Alex Smith came on for Josh Craven, and Dan Litherland switched to left back. Pocklington soon added a fourth from Peters, with Marshall the provider, returning the favour. Peters came close from a corner, followed by Marshall firing just wide after a great pass from Pearson. Litherland settled in at left back and emulated his hero Leighton Baines, with some attacking runs and crosses.
A great shot from Peters, following a corner won by Litherland, brought out a superb save from the RI keeper. Matthew McGurk came on for Pearson and proved a seamless transition. Alex Smith had a shot and also had his best game of the season, with great passing and positional awareness.
Marshall again came close with McGurk the provider. Marshall then turned provider for McGurk with an audacious overhead kick when a surprised Mc Gurk could only blast over. The fifth came from Marshall after a one-two with McGurk.
Some neat passing between Peters and Marshall resulted in another fine Marshall effort going close, as did yet another from a Litherland cross. A rampant Pocklington and a tiring demoralised RI led to a rare mistake from the RI keeper which McGurk gratefully received and despatched to make it 6-1.
What a game, what a result, and inspired use of substitutions. No man of the match this week, too many contenders, so it was awarded to the whole team. A mention must go to the young referee, who had a great game, hardly missed a thing but allowed the game to flow.