UNDER 12S MATCH REPORTS

St Ives Black Socks 2-1 Alconbury, 4 Feb 2018

Alconbury suffered defeat away at league leaders St Ives by an identical scoreline to their home reverse against Ramsey, and could count themselves even less fortunate than last week, having put in one of their best performances of the season only to be denied the draw that they at least deserved in the cruellest of circumstances. The game was always going to be a tough one against a St Ives team that are undefeated in any competition so far this season and have taken some notable scalps in the cup, and the prospects were made even more daunting with Tazio withdrawing late on the morning of the game and Chris stoically reporting for duty between the sticks  whilst suffering from a nasty head cold, a true team man. Nonetheless from the first whistle Alconbury proved more than capable of matching their opponents in every department, with solid defensive work from Paige against their dangerous right winger and Mason (who was outstanding all game) acting well as the defensive midfield screen and communicating with James N to ensure cover on his occasional forays upfield. Although not having most of the possession Alconbury were more dangerous with the ball when they had it than their opponents, Max was always available on the counter attack and responded excellently to advice from the touchline to look for the ball behind on the half-turn rather than come short and take it to his feet with back to goal, Evan was linking well with Leon their partnership down the left both extinguishing the dangerous number 11 for St Ives and giving their defence problems. Excellent pressing created 2 chances, and James N’s beautiful shot from distance was acrobatically tipped over by their keeper to prevent Alconbur opening the scoring. When the St Ives opener came just before half time there was little that could have been done about it, sometimes you just have to give credit to your opponents and the passing move that led up to it was deserving of the goal. It didn’t take long after the half time oranges for Alconbury to bring the game back to level terms though, Jamie with a great bit of skill l to trick his way past his marker on the left flank and then good strength to bustle his way to the byline, his pull back caused mayhem in the St Ives defence which James N pounced on to bundle the ball over. Sadly Alconbury’s lead was not to last long and within a few minutes a free kick from distance was fired in with pace, and although it was so firmly struck Chris could only parry his defensive colleagues could and should have booted it clear without hesitating, and that delay let the opposition scramble the ball in. Not deserving of being behind, and despite playing the second half up a notable slope on an absolute bog of a pitch Alconbury would not lie down and dug in and worked for each other in a display of team work and grit as good as anything they have offered this season, pushing players into attack  they had most of the possession for the last 15 minutes they created a string of chances with Matthew working very well to step out of defence and into midfield to fill in any gaps which had to be left as his team mates tried to level the game. With a few minutes to go Max went through on goal and his shot eluded the keeper and was rolling into an empty net when, with the spectators already celebrating the ball incredibly got stuck in a muddy puddle on the goal line allowing a disbelieving St Ives keeper to retrieve it. Again though they would not lie down and right at the death Max, who had driven his team mates on in the closing stages with his skill and inventiveness, got in down the right, beat his defender all ends up and fired a great ball across the face of goal, Tom charging in at the far post made good contact at point blank range but somehow the ball ricocheted between him and the keeper on the ground and span up and clear of the goal. 2 chances which on 1000 other occasions would have led to a goal were both denied not by an attackers error, or great defensive play but just pure bad luck. The team tradition is not to award a player of the match but rather to highlight 3 players who have made a good contribution to the game, on this occasion every player took the award.

 

Alconbury 1 – Ramsey Raiders 2, 28 Jan 2018

A close fought top of the table clash saw Alconbury just bested in a tight game at home. A 2-1 scoreline in Alconbury’s favour in a pre-season friendly and the proximity of the teams in 2nd and 3rd place in the league table made it clear this would be a close game and right from the outset it proved to be just that. Some good passing play from Ramsey had Alconbury on the ropes in the early phase of the game and both Matthew and Ben had a lot of work to do extinguishing attacks coming from the visitors left wing, and a series of corners provided some nervous moments. Alconbury had some chances of their own as well with Leon testing the keeper from distance in the early exchanges. Towards the end of the first half though good territorial advantage from Ramsey began to wear Alconbury down, with the home side unable to get the ball out of their own half and it was only some good recovery defending from Evan and 2 good saves from Chris that kept the score level at half time. Ramsey started the second half as they ended the first and with waves of pressure coming on down the Alconbury left it eventually told with the visitors getting in behind to open the scoring. However, fresh legs from the bench sparked Alconbury back into life and with Tazio again providing some creative inspiration with his long passing an equaliser was scored with about 10minutes to go, a hacked clearance from the Ramsey defence was hooked back into Max’s path and he delightfully lobbed the advance keeper on the volley from about 12 yards to level the match. At this point there only seemed likely to be one winner and Alconbury upped the tempo, with James N driving the team forward despite playing on with a sore shoulder from a collision with his midfield opponent. Twice Alconbury went close and the pace they were setting looked to be more than the away team could handle, but sadly that laudable commitment to keeping the tempo high cost them right at the death, with James N unable to take his usual role of goal kicking Chris sought to play a quick short pass to get Alconbury moving up the left flank, unfortunately it did not reach it’s intended recipient and a Ramsey player jumped in to intercept, the pace at which the restart had been taken left Matthew out of position following the previous corner and therefore the opponent was straight through on goal and made no mistake to hand Ramsey the game. The team will reflect that a draw would have been the least they deserved and although the goal which cost them the game came from a small error it was one that was made with the best of intentions, and in pursuance of a style of play which has seen them gain a lot of success this season, so overall better to lose trying than draw not trying (as the total lack of draws in their record this season will attest)!

 

Priory Parkside 3 - Alconbury 6 20 January 2018

A regulation win for Alconbury against Priory Parkside served as a good warm up for a challenging run of fixtures over the next 3 weeks. The match was played in heavy rain on an absolute bog of a pitch, but the conditions were the least of Alconbury's worries upon arrival in St. Neots when the news came through that goalkeeper Chris was unable to play due to a tweak suffered in training the previous evening. Ben and Evan showed true team spirit in volunteering to take a half each between the sticks and the warm up was changed so as to give them both the chance to acclimatise to playing in goal, something neither had done for many years. Once the game started Alconbury mastered the conditions better than their opponents following pre-match advise to press the opposition when not in possession and play percentage passes when they had the ball in deference to the conditions. The opening goal came from just this scenario, good pressure causing a slip in defence with James pouncing to open the scoring. Priory levelled the scores soon after when a speculative shot from distance squirmed between Ben's legs as he, correctly, went down to get hands on the ball rather than kick away. In these conditions and with a greasy ball it was a shot that could easily have beaten a specialist keeper let alone an outfield player unused to the position. Alconbury soon restored their advantage though with Matthew reading an opposition attack perfectly, intercepting the ball and on hearing Max's call getting his head up and playing a fantastic straight ball through the defence which put Max into the type of 1 on 1 situation from which he rarely fails to convert. Alconbury's third came from Jamie, the ball was played across him by James N and the coaching wisdom is to take the shot with the weaker left foot, but he instead he produced a deft, powerful finish with the outside of his right boot which gave the keeper no chance. Leon had been working back excellently throughout the first half, but a great pass up the line from Evan gave him the chance to get at the Priory right back and he had him on toast cutting in onto his right foot with a trademark curling finish to leave Alconbury comfortably ahead at half time. Alconbury were to add to their tally in a second half in which they always looked dangerous. James L set the tone soon after kick off beating his opponent with a good piece of skill and sending in a cross which just eluded Jamie. The Alconbury supply line then became the Tazio show as he found space in midfield and started sending a series of high quality long passes beyond the Priory defence for his team mates to run onto. The first, a diagonal reverse pass inside the full back showed incredible vision but saw Max unfortunately pulled back by a linesman's flag. The next through ball was sensational, a 40 yard crossfield pass hit from the left touchline, it curled just beyond the reach of the entire Priory defence and landed perefectly for Max and Jamie in space on the opposite flank, Max beat his team mate to the chance and made no mistake. A further goal from James rounded off the proceedings before the full time whistle saw the Alconbury players leave the field in good spirits for the sterner tests awaiting them in the weeks ahead, but with their Red and Blue shirts so covered in mud they looked like the 70s Coventry brown away kit.

 

Alconbury 1 - March 3  13 January 2018

A first home defeat of the season in all competitions for Alconbury in a game which, although tight, was one they could easily have won. The 1-0 victory secured in the last minute in the away fixture was an indicator that this was always going to be a close encounter between 2 evenly matched teams, and the first half was nip and tuck all the way. Thankfully some firm early refereeing set down a marker and meant this game did not become as overly physical as the previous fixture, and Alconbury shaded the first half on balance of play, twice going close through Max and Tom. Tazio was a key player for Alconbury in this first period, stopping the supply to their dangerous striker on several occasions and making time for himself superbly in a crowded midfield to get Alconbury moving forward with some uncomplicated but incisive passing. On the few occasions that the Alconbury defence was tested Matthew always seemed to be one page ahead of their attacking players and was there to intercept or tackle. Alconbury very nearly finished the half ahead with James N being put through by Max only for a very tight call from the linesman to bring him back. Alconbury did take the lead early in the second half though, with Jamie opening his Alconbury account with  thunderous strike from the right of the box beating the keeper for pace into the far corner and almost ripping the net out of the goal! If Alconbury can regret anything in the game it was the period immediately after this goal when they seemed to think they had it won. Not for the first time this season rather than up the tempo when taking the lead to extinguish any hope their opponent may have of coming back they dropped off towards their own goal and the intentsity diminished. As a result a period of play when Alconbury were pinned in their own half yielded 2 quick goals for March, the first after Alconbury were opened up down their left with a lack of midfield cover, and then a second after Alconbury failed to clear their lines properly from a succession of corners. A spirited fight back saw Max go close twice, James N hit the post after being slipped in delighfuly by Jamie, and Tom have a shot blocked right in front of the goal and 2-2 would have been the least they deserved on balance, but instead March sealed the game with seconds to spare taking advantage of the space left by Alconbury pushing for an equaliser to get a third which put something more of a gloss on the scoreline than perhaps the match warranted.

 

KC Cougars U12s 2 - 4 Alconbury U12s Sat 6 January 2018

U12s started the New Year with a good win away at Victory Fields against a strong KC team. 2 new players Mason and Jamie who's debuts had been delayed by cancellations caused by pre-xmas frost started on the bench to get a look at competitive football and their team mates before joining the fray. Alconbury came closest to breaking the deadlock with Tazio sending Leon in down the left and his first time cross was turned onto the post by Max, inches away from a goal. KC then took the lead with confusion in the Alconbury defence as the ball was played back in following a corner leading to a simple conversion for the opposition striker. Alconbury's response though was first class, Tom created an opening for James N, and then shortly after excellent pressing by the Alconbury midfield allowed James N to rob the ball as KC played out and his rasping low drive bounced in off the near post for the equaliser. Mason, now on in a defensive midfield position, went close shortly after his shot from the edge of the box saved by the keeper before Alconbury pinched a goal right on the stroke of half time. Max put through by Leon after a KC attack broke down made no mistake in a one on one situation. Jamie was introduced at half time as striker and showed great hold up play bringing team mates into the game excellently before going close himself after latching onto a superb through pass, holding off the defender and sending a shot just wide. Alconbury's third goal was the pick of the bunch. Leon, who was outstanding all game, slipped past their right back after receiving the ball from a throw and then in one motion looked up saw the keeper off his line and calmly lobbed him from a tight angle for 3-1. KC mounted a revival, and some excellent play in possession from their always dangerous No 11 led to a good goal by them to make it 3-2, but Alconbury showed great game management, and their positional and tactical discipline as KC chased the game was superb. Chris, who had a sensational game between the sticks, was key in this final period. He made 2 good saves and continually took pressure off his defenders with his command of the box as high balls were tossed in, exuding calm as all good goalies should. He rounded this off with an assist for the final goal. Max, who along with the rest of the team had been working back as KC chased the game was instructed to sit high for potential counter attacks as the opposition was leaving only one defender back at times, and Chris seeing this sent a laser guided kick from the hands into his path on half way leaving him with only one defender and keeper to beat, which he showed great pace and finishing to do. Overall a great result for Alconbury against good opposition and their effort, team play and game management proved to be the difference.

 

Alconbury -v- Bluntisham Blasters Sat 25 November

Alconbury put the ending of their 100% league record firmly behind them with a 10-1 demolition of a spirited Bluntisham side. Having already met in the season's opening game Alconbury were aware of the very high offside line favoured by their opponents defence and had spent time on through passing in training the previous night, although he couldn't be at training Max was told of the plan before kick off and played his part to perfection sitting on the last shoulder of the defence from the start and calling for the pass through the lines whenever it was on, using his pace and awareness to great effect. He didn't have to wait long, and was put through on goal several times in a lightning start to the game which saw James N and Max combining as goalscorers and assisting eachother with an assist from Leon also to put Alconbury 3 nil up inside 15minutes. Although they made valiant attempts to get into the game Bluntisham couldn't establish a foothold and their high line allowed James N to play further up the pitch where he wreaked havoc with his pace and directness, with Evan excellent picking up the scraps behind him and driving forward (getting the odd assist himself) it was one way traffic and Alconbury added a further 2 to make it 5-1 at the break. James L could have added a further goal shooting over from close range but nonetheless providing a great assist from the left wing. The second half was more of the same, with one way traffic from Alconbury. Tom joined James N and Max on the scoresheet (his 4th goal in 4 games now) and Leon was providing some great through passing and nearly got on the scoresheet himself. Although there was little for Defenders to do in this game Matthew and Paige were solid throughout and Ben had a brilliant game at left defence, always in the correct position on the pitch and often bringing the ball out into midfield thoughtfully to launch Alconbury attacks. The game ended 10-1 with credit going to Bluntisham for the effort they showed throughout the game, but Alconbury will know that not every game will be as convincing for them as this, and they will have to work much harder as they head into a challenging period of games around Christmas and New Year.

 

Whittlesey Black -v- Alconbury U12s - 11 November 2017

The U12s lost their 100% league record away at Whittlesey in a close game which finished 5-3. Unlike on previous long road trips they started really well and as soon as play commenced (after an impeccably observed rememberance day silence) Alconbury dominated possession and pinned their opponents in their own half, being first to the ball every time it was cleared. The pressure told quickly when Leon went in down the left, his cross was blocked but James N collected the rebound, and although his touch took him wide of the goal he had the presence of mind to pull it back to Max who finished neatly to give Alconbury the lead. A rare Whittlesey attack led to an equaliser as their left winger, who was to prove a thorn in the Alconbury side all game (scoring 4) and appeared a class above the rest of the opposition players, beat 2 Alconbury players in midfield and past Paige's despairing dive to level the scores. Alconbury were back on top from the restart and an outstanding goal from Tom took them back into the lead, receiving the ball on the edge of the box under pressure from a defender he shifted it brilliantly out from under his body and, seemingly unconcerned that he was using his weaker left foot rifled it low and straight into the bottom corner. It seemed that at this point a little complacency set in with the Alconbury team, as although the scores were at 2-1 they had had by far the better of the game, the intensity dropped a bit and Alconbury invited their opponents on and conceded 3 goals in about 10 minutes in the lead up to half time. 2 were freakish accidents, one following an unfortunate rebound after a corner and one a mishit cross which the Whittlesey left winger (one of 2 players wearing the shirt number 14 in the game) sportingly admitted was not intended as a shot on goal. In this period Alconbury almost scored themselves following a superb piece of control and square passing from James L but sadly Max couldn't finish the chance. Despite being 2 goals behind at the break the team were told that they were very much still in the game, but the message perhaps should have been conveyed better as they seemed again lacklustre at the start of the second period, a fifth Whittlesey goal was almost a replica of the fourth but from a dead ball delivery, a mishit cross from a free kick way out deceiving everyone including Chris and looping unstoppably into the very top corner of the back post. Alconbury heads dropped at this point, which was a shame as on the balance of play there were still opportunities to get something from the game, but a real lack of discipline in midfield (with Leon the notable exception) meant we could not hold the ball and exert pressure, and so much time was wasted in this period that when Max's emphatic volleyed goal brought them back to 5-3 there were only 3 minutes left. Despite the ensuing siege of the Whittlesey goal almost yielding a fourth from James N it was not to be.  Not a bad performance from Alconbury, who on balance may just been the better team, but they did not deal well with the key passages of the game and the lesson they must learn is to take their chances when they are on top in games, but most importantly that players must take responsibility and drive the team forward when they go behind, or are under pressure as things will often turn their way in the end. A final mention to the excellent discipline from the players, after a discussion in midweek about the need to respect referees and opponents (even if the latter don't always do the same), no player protested or showed dissent at all when a penalty (eventually missed) was awarded against Alconbury for a tackle which not only got the ball but cleared it out of play for what should have been a throw.

 

Gransden v Alconbury U12s (Hunts County Cup) 4 November 2017

Alconbury exited the County Cup away at Gransden in a tight encounter, the match played in horrendous conditions with torrential driving rain and strong winds. Given the weather conditions a 30 minute delay to kick off due to the referee not arriving on time was the last thing the players needed, and the tiredness the Alconbury players showed late on was surely linked to the extra energy expended jogging around to keep warm whilst awaiting the tardy official. Once the game got underway it was nip and tuck with both teams struggling to master the greasy conditions and passes going astray. Gransden went ahead following a corner, as it was cleared Alconbury were way too slow to put pressure on the ball leaving plenty of time for their player to send a looping shot past an unsighted Chris into the far corner. Tom went very close to equalising for Alconbury after Max's snap shot was saved but put it just wide from close range, seeming to lose his footing on the slippery surface as he shot. He was not to be denied moments later though when James beat the keeper to a stray ball and it broke clear he made no mistake to bring the scores level, having waited so long to open his Alconbury account the goals are now flowing. The teams went into the break level but just after the restart Gransden went ahead after springing the Alconbury offside trap, a complete lack of pressure on the ball in midfield allowed the opposition time to slot their stiker in down the Alconbury right, he went past the covering defender with ease and stroked the ball into bottom corner. Alconbury then had their best spell of the match, completely dominating for about 15-20 minutes with Gransden penned into their own half and Tazio doing an excellent job of picking up their clearances and playing simple passes to get his side moving forward again. Twice in this period Max had goals chalked off for offside, on one occasion he had clearly strayed but the other was a very tight call. If Alconbury should regret anything during this period when they should have put the game beyond doubt it will be that once they got close to the opposition box they played as individuals and not a team, trying to dribble and shoot when short fast simple passes would have more effectively broken down the packed defence. Eventually though the equaliser came with James N pouncing on an attempt by the flustered Gransden defence to clear and slotting home from close range. At this stage it seemed there would be only one winner, with Alconbury very much in the ascendancy, however, the energy wasted in the extended warm up saw the them start to flag, and the benefit of a much larger bench meant Gransden could bring fresher players onto the pitch. Their winner came using a method Alconbury have used to punish teams themselves on many occasions this year. Defending deep and in numbers they broke up an Alconbury attack and sprung forward on the counter, piercing a high offside line to put a player in down the Alconbury right and go 3-2 ahead with only a few minutes to go. Alconbury piled forward in a concerted attempt to force the game to penalties and the best move of the game by either team  saw Tazio break get in down the left and with defenders rushing across to cover he put in a delightful curling cross which took 6 Gransden players out of the game, Max running in at the far post made a great connection on the volley but the width of  post denied him and even more cruelly the ball rebounded inches to his right preventing him from tapping in with the keeper on the ground . Alconbury will reflect that this was a game that they should have won, despite some bad luck and poor conditions. The lesson they will learn is to  play simple passes when needed,  and revert to their tried and tested method of being a hard team to break down with wingers and midfielders working hard to get behind the ball when their opponent has possession and managing their shape and position on the pitch to ensure they use the space in a way which suits their natural attributes of pace and good through passing.

 

Alconbury Colts  v Priory Parkside U12s 21 October 2017

Alconbury maintained their 100% league record with what was eventually a comfortable 5-1 win in a close fought game against a strong Priory Parkside team. A combination of unavailability of James L and an injury picked up playing Rugby by Leon meant Alconbury had a match day squad of only 9 players and no substitutes so the plan pre-game was to start quickly and put matters beyond doubt in case tiredness crept in late on. Alconbury certainly did that going one up inside 5 minutes in controversial circumstances. James N, playing on the wing rather than his usual central midfield berth, went past his man on the outside and the ball clearly went out of play as he did so, however, despite both Managers clearly indicating a throw should be given the linesman declined to flag and the referee therefore did not stop play. Following the age old maxim of "play to the whistle" James carried on into the box and his cross deflected off a Priory defender for an own goal. Despite his early contribution from the wing it became clear that Alconbury were missing James' influence in the middle of the park as they came under heavy pressure during the remainder of the first half, only strong defending from Paige and Matthew in crucial situations kept Alconbury ahead at the break. The second half started with Priory on the front foot again, before Alconbury doubled their advantage with a great effort from James, who restored to the middle of midfield at the interval, picked the ball up on the edge of the box ghosted past 2 defenders and finished low to the keeper's left. Priory pulled one back soon after, which was no more than they deserved on the balance of play before Alconbury doubled their advantage following a further contentious moment. A goalmouth scramble following a Priory corner resulted in a shot which Chris initially fumbled, falling backwards to recvoer he clawed the ball out of the goal, the Priory players thinking it had crossed the line (which Chris confirmed after the final whistle he thought it in fact had) began celebrating an equaliser but again there was no referee's whistle. Alconbury got the ball and orchestrated a marvellous sweeping counter attack which ended with Max's shot being saved by the Keeper's legs. Tom, depite not touching the ball during the attack, had sprinted the length of the field in support and his energy and commitment paid dividends as he arrived in perfect time to tuck away the rebound and score a long overdue debut goal for Alconbury. Alconbury added two further goals in the final stages as Priory chased the game, firstly James collecting from a mishit goal kick and then Ben curling a beautiful effort into an unguarded net when the ball broke loose after Max had been tackled as he tried to round the keeper. All told a slightly flattering scoreline for Alconbury, although their win was fully deserved, but when you look at the fixtures to date and those to come it seems likely that a commited and unlucky Priory team (who did very well to keep their discipline in the face of 2 unfortunate goals) will surely climb the table as the season progresses.

 

March Soccer School v Alconbury Colts U12s 14 Oct 17

A return to league competition saw the U12s get back to winning ways, although this 1-0 victory in a physical, hard fought encounter away at March was a much sterner examination than anything so far this season. Alconbury were slow to start, perhaps it took them a while to shake the long drive, stuck behind a bewildering array of agricultural machinery out of their legs. The early possession was all March's without any real threat. Alconbury eventually woke up and carved out 2 almost identical chances in quick succession with James N putting in a pair of good crosses, the first just eluded Max and from the second the keeper made a good save. The game became increasingly physical as the half wore on, Max took a tumble in the box under heavy contact from a March defender but received nothing more than a sore neck for his troubles, and Tom had to come off for running repairs to a stud mark on his leg. March nearly opened the scoring twice before half time, on the first occasion a combination of the post and Chris's knee saved them before his outstanding save turning a shot from the right around his far post kept it 0-0 at the break. The second half was a midfield battle with the referee keen to let the game flow despite some heavy tackling at times. Alconbury were unable to keep the ball when they got it, with players not supporting the ball carrier by getting into space to let them build a spell of possession to relieve the pressure. What they lacked with the ball though they more than made up for with their determination and discipline. Evan in particular had an outstanding game as the holding midfield player, screening his defenders superbly. Eventually March pressure began to tell and the crossbar was rattled from a corner before Chris was unluckily adjudged to have handled a "back pass" from Paige's left knee and an indirect free kick was awarded feet from the Alconbury goal. The initial shot was repelled but a volleyed shot fired back into the crowded penalty area was arrowing towards the net when Matthew standing on the goal line instinctively lunged at it to save a certain goal with his head. As the game moved into injury time there was to be a final twist, Tom broke 2 tackles in midfield and passed to Max who at first drove towards goal but then played James, who was overlapping on the right, in behind the defence, James' fizzing low centre looked too hot to handle but Leon arriving perfectly at the far post seemed completely unfazed and rammed the ball into the net from close range to finish off Alconbury's best move of the match, win the game and prompt a great goal celebration. Overall there is work still to be done by Alconbury on their play when in possession, but their discipline, commitment, team spirit and desire cannot be questioned after this last minute victory achieved in very testing conditions.

 

Sawtry Blue Socks v Alconbury Colts U12s 7 Oct 17

 The U12s were brought very much back down to earth following their strong start to the season with a 5-0 reverse at the hands of Sawtry in the League Cup. The players knew when the draw was made it would be a tough challenge with Sawtry sitting mid-table in the division above theirs. The match started promisingly from an Alconbury persepctive with them keeping their shape well, making sure midfield players were between the ball and the goal when Sawtry had possession and then looking to use Max as a focal point to counter attack and release pressure. Although the game was played predominantly in the Alconbury half the first 3 chances all fell their way, firstly with Max being put through but forced wide by good defending, then Leon saw a goalbound effort well saved by the Sawtry keeper and finally neat approach play from Tom saw Leon put behind the defence on the left but sadly no one had made it into the box to get on the end of his low centre. Alconbury were equal to everything Sawtry could throw at them until late in the first half when twice their left side was exposed, the first time saw defenders given no choice but to scramble across to cover leaving a tap in for the Sawtry winger at the back post, on the second occasion Chris parried the cross but an opposition player managed to bundle the rebound home despite Matthew's valiant attempt at a goal line clearance. The message at the break was to keep it tight and that one goal from Alconbury would see them back in the game.  But the next, crucial, goal was also Sawtry's and there was nothing that could have been done about the superb long range shot that gave Sawtry the cushion they needed. After that heads understandably dropped and Alconbury lost a lot of their positional discipline, especially in midfield areas. Two late goals gave the scoreline what, even the home manager acknowledged at the final whistle, was a flattering edge. Alconbury can console themselves with a return to more evenly matched league games, but will also reflect that a run of comfortable victories in the league has perhaps led them into bad habits and that if they are to respond to the challenge of tougher opponents they must learn that individual players cannot win games, and they must keep their shape without the ball and when in possession make simple, fast passes sideways and even backwards if necessary to retain the ball better and move teams out of position until the space opens for them to score, something a very good Sawtry team did  against them to great effect today. 

 

Huntingdown Rowdies Green v Alconbury Colts U12s 23 Sep 17

The U12s took their flying start to the season to new levels with by far their best performance to date in a 9-1 win at Huntingdon, with every player able to take great credit for their individual contribution. After some relatively cautious starts in the previous league and pre-season fixtures Alconbury came flying out of the traps here, immediately laying siege to the Huntingdon goal with wave after wave of attacks. The Rowdies keeper made 2 fine saves in the first 5 mins and twice also the woodwork was struck before the deadlock was broken with James N getting in behind the right of the Huntingdon defence and pulling back for Max to finish. This goal seemed to spark Rowdies into life and the second part of the first half was keenly contested with some dangerous breakaways by the home team, Matthew's temporary departure following an accidental knock to his ankle maybe contributing to a lack of organisation in the away team's backline. Nonetheless Alconbury enjoyed their half time oranges at 3-0 up, the 2 additional goals both came from corners. Firstly Leon's delivery was guided into the far corner by an excellent glancing near post header from James N. From the next corner Leon decided he needed no help from his team mates, sending in a fizzing inswinger from the left which had so much dip and swerve the Rowdies keeper, who had been excellent until then, could only parry it into his own net. Huntingdon started brightly second half and pulled a goal back shortly after the break, Chris unable to parry a low drive from the right, he was understandably rusty since he had been a virtual spectator until then! However, the revival was short lived with Alconbury reverting to their dominant best and scoring 6 unanswered goals to run out handsome winners. Ben opened his account for the season with a deflected shot following some great approach play, Taz was involved in a goalmouth scramble from a corner, and while a dubious goals committe might declare it an own goal there was no doubt the panic he caused was instrumental in forcing the ball over line. James N and Max also added a further 2 each to their respective tallies before the referee blew for full time. It's very early in the season but Alconbury sit top with a 100% record and an impressive 21 scored and only 2 conceded. However, a close inspection of the table reveals that the 3 teams they have played occupy the bottom spots. A run of fixtures against the teams in the upper part of the table will provide a real indicator of how good the start has been, but the team can certainly go into those games full of confidence on the back of their hard work and excellent performances so far.

 

Alconbury Colts v Gransden Youth Under 12s 16 Sep 17

The U12s continued their strong start to the season with an emphatic 7-0 win over Gransden Youth in their first home game. The final scoreline did not represent what was a very tight first half with both teams going close in the opening period, and on 2 occasions Ben covered round from right defence with great pace to cover when the Alconbury backline had been breached. Eventually after 15mins a spell of Alconbury pressure led to the breakthrough, a sequence of lovely first time passing between Leon, Max and Evan down the left culminated in a cross coming over, Tom's initial shot was blocked but the ball broke loose as Gransden attempted to clear and James N hit a looping first time volley from what seemed an impossibly narrow angle over the keepers head and into the far corner. The previous night's training session on through passing then paid dividends with Max being sent through twice in quick succession, firstly by Leon only to see the keeper save the one on one, but a perfectly weighted defence splitting pass from Tom then put him in again, and he made no mistake to see the boys (and girl!) take the half time whistle at 2-0. Alconbury then really turned up the heat in the second half, Leon playing as a striker linked well with Ben and Tom, Ben seeing a goal chalked off for offside and Tom shooting wide from a tight angle, before Max's return from the bench saw him double his personal tally and put Alconbury three up following a slide rule pass by Taz. A great Gransden chance was extinguished by a thunderous sliding block tackle from Matthew on the penalty spot, before a frantic final 10mins saw Alconbury score 4 more goals to give the final score a perhaps overly one sided look. Taz fired a misjduged clearance from the keeper straight back into an empty net and James N somehow managed another 3(!) including a powerful free kick and a close range finish following a goalmouth scramble.

 

Bluntisham Blasters vs Alconbury Colts Under 12s 9 Sep 17

A solid start to the season for the U12s, who struggled at first to cope tactically with Bluntisham's very high offside line and pressing which meant all but 2 of their outfield players were often in and around our penalty area when we won possession, making it hard for us to retain the ball. The scoring was opened by Alconbury though, following quick thinking and excellent knowledge of the laws from James N. The opposing keeper picked the ball up close to the goal line and elected to place it on the ground to clear, players from both teams already retreating assumed a goal kick had been given. James though, aware the whistle had not been blown, had other ideas and simply took the ball around the back-pedalling keeper as he prepared to clear for the simplest of finishes. Confusion reigned with protests from Keeper, Defenders and Oppositon Manager alike but the Referee correctly signalled for the restart and Alconbury took a 1-0 lead. The first half then settled into a pattern of Alconbury defending with excellent discipline and looking to release attacking players on the break,  with 2 chances being pulled back for offside and a number of excellent saves in one on one situations by the Bluntisham keeper following incisive creative play from Tom M and Paige N in wide positions. Max H then went through to double Alconbury's lead following a solid midfield challenge and first time through pass from debutant Ben L. The second half proved a mirror image of the first with Bluntisham starting very strongly as they looked to get back into the game, several muscular interventions from James L proved key in riding out this storm before 2 goals in quick succession, a rasping low drive from James N and a beautifully curled effort from Leon N effectively ended any resistance. The Alconbury number 14, having set up Leon for the fourth, then slalomed into the box from his defensive midfield position and crashed a shot off the bar, before a 5th from Max right on the stroke of full time applied the gloss to a decent Alconbury performance. There may be sterner tests to come this season but the players should take great credit for adapting as a team to an unusual tactical approach from their opponents and seeing out 2 spells of intense pressure to secure victory. A final word for the moment of the match from Max H, who midway through the 2nd half plucked a ball from mid-air in the opponents penalty box, and without letting it touch the ground did 3 or 4 keepy ups before knocking it between the defenders legs and racing towards goal. Although nothing came from it, it was a piece of skill more akin to Copacabana beach than a Hunts Youth League game!