AMAZING PERFORMANCE - CROSS-COUNTY CHAMPIONS

In a breath-taking match at a breath-taking ground (if not one for the old-school purists, the Ricoh is still an amazing setting) our Y11 County Cup winners took on Coventry's finest and made the school proud with a wonderful 3-2 win...

On a beautifully hot, May afternoon the brilliant Y11 Boys team travelled over the border in to Cov looking to extend their reputation beyond Warwickshire and in to the city centre. With 3 great goals (including a last minute winner) and an impeccable team performance against a very strong President Kennedy School side boasting near-home advantage, that reputation for sporting excellence is cemented.

With the teams warming up, it seemed evident that PK were likely to be the more physically dominant side - with many of the team over six foot and leaving some NLS observers wondering if some of their teaching staff had infiltrated the starting line up. That said, NLS are known for their individual flair but also team spirit: the lads function as a very effective team unit so we knew they would be up for the challenge!

From the kick off, it was actually NLS that took the game to PK and hearts were emboldened among the c.75 followers (comprising staff and students in a c.250 strong crowd) who had made the trip northwards. It was perhaps surprisingly NLS that were the more physically robust and, early doors, Harry showed the pace and deftness of touch which had been instrumental in the County Cup final a couple of week's previous.

But it was PK who took the lead...

The opposition lads offered far more than simple strength and athleticism: with a formidable number 8, pacy, skilful attack minded players and a solid defence who know how to play the ball out from the back, it was the Maradona-like number 9 with his low centre of gravity who gave them the lead utilising a combination of pace, perseverance, neat feet and a powerful shot that arrowed in to the roof of Alex's net. 

1-0 President Kennedy!

Jack has been a mainstay of this excellent team and it was one of his gazelle-like runs through the minefield of a midfield populated by strong players unafraid to make strong challenges which led to an incisive through-ball to Harry on the edge of the area...

With a beautifully weighted pass from Jack, it seemed inevitable that Harry would bang it from 10 yards. But Harry is more nuanced in his play than that: taking a touch and waiting for the advancing 'keeper, he chipped a delightful ball in to the roof of the net - to the rapturous delight of the travelling supporters.

1-1.

As the match wore on, the play was fairly balanced but with PK perhaps edging it slightly - with regular, incisive tactical changes initiated by the sharp thinking of their coach, Mr Sheridan. Big-kicking, sharp reflexed Alex in goal was ably supported by a determined Charlie at right back - even more combative than usual - and the level-headedness of his centre backs, Josh and the ever-composed captain, Joe. Jack A added some terrific pace and maturity of distribution that complemented his defensive counterparts.

All this defensive capacity was needed as PK made a series of concerted raids on the NLS box - the possibility of establishing and extending a lead seemed distinct with the zippy number 9 a constant threat.

Half-time: PK 1-1 NLS

With the sun beating down, the half-time rest was much-needed and proved something of a turning point as fitness and injury - as well as coaching interventions - began to tell in the second half.

At first, it was a determined PK who took the initiative: tricky feet and pace invited several NLS lunging challenges and, ultimately, this led to a free kick on the edge of our area. With Alex having just arranged his wall, a quick-thinking and perfectly executed effort eluded his despairing hands and settled in to the top right of the net. 

2-1 PK...

But this NLS team is all about team resolve, grit and determination - as well as skill, of course.

With Tom offering his usual industry in midfield and Ross showing some restraint and measured passing, the centre of the park saw more-and-more efforts paying dividends. A cross from the right beat the 'keeper's grasp, Ibi - on as a substitute - helped it on its way to the goal and Conor made sure. 

Cue another NLS pile-on and a frenzied crowd reaction!

PK 2-2 NLS

By this point - and understandably - a number of players were beginning to feel the pace and heat, pulling up with injuries that necessitated tactical substitutions from both benches. Perhaps surprisingly, though - given the size and apparent athleticism of the PK team - it was the latter who suffered most. It was becoming clear that Mr Morey's dietary demands - pasta at lunch - was to prove of real value.

Jake - having been subbed for tactical purposes - came back on and offered his usual mix of industry, precison of pass and - legitimate - crunch of tackle. Meanwhile, Dylan and Patrick offered support down the left-side as NLS began to take the game to PK - even if the presence of the opposition number 9 caused continual anxiety.

The breakthrough seemed to be coming when Jack launched a hugely-athletic run from the edge of his own box to the bye-line at the other end and played the ball to Harry. For once, though, Harry's neat touch wasn't quite neat enough and he was unable to finish.

Not so with one minute to go, though!

The prospect of extra-time was an unwelcome one in such heat and so what followed was very welcome indeed. With a number of the PK lads having been subbed and tiredness a growing issue, the lightning pace of Harry was vital as he broke away down the right and, with the keeper coming off his line, the scorer of our first offered a speculative drive towards the bottom right. It seemed from a distance that - as with an earlier effort that elicited excited but mistaken screams from the faithful - it was destined for the side netting.

This time, though, it crept in and the agony and the ecstasy was clear for all to see: a bereft PK team sunk to the floor while a euphoric NLS piled on one more time.

PK 2-3 NLS.

With Alex F coming on for the last moments, the crowd rose to its feet when the final whistle went - a glorious outcome on a glorious day following a glorious performance.

On the strength of 90 minutes, the win was deserved but by the finest of margins - as is often the case at these elite levels. Well done to the PK lads for a fantastic performance - one that helped highlight just how strong NLS's was.

A great way for Y11 to "bow out"!

 

 

 

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