First of all I wanted to congratulate the players for earning a place in the top group in under 10s in the league. The last year has been difficult due to players leaving and having a small squad but if anything our performances have improved and the team spirit is now much better than last season.
To put where we have got to into perspective, there were only around 15 teams in our previous league, we are now in a league with 85 teams and we are competing in a group with the best 11 teams of our age. To say we have only been in the league since September only makes our progress more impressive and shows we deserve to be there.
One of the crucial aspects of being in the top group is learning how to take positives from a match even if we lose. We should expect some very difficult matches in the coming weeks but we have to play as well as we can and if we lose, a positive mentality is vital to improving our performances. We must learn from the teams we play against each week, if they beat us then we need to ask ourselves how they beat us, what did they do different to us and how can we improve so that next time the result may be different.
The boys showed this mentality perfectly today, although we lost 5-2 against Celtic we put in a strong performance and I feel the score line doesn’t quite reflect our part in the match.
From kick off and for the first 15 minutes we were on par with Celtic, we had lots of possession and created a few chances, in particular a low shot from James was saved brilliantly from the opposition goalkeeper. If that had have gone in the match may have been different but shortly after Celtic took the lead.
Given our strong start, conceding the first goal knocked us back a bit and we had a spell of about 10 mins leading to half time where we conceded another goal and looked a little shaken. We were wasting possession far too often and trying to force our way up the pitch with long passes which weren’t working.
This spell continued into the first 10 minutes of the second half where we went 3-0 down. I then encouraged the boys to pass the ball out from goal and stop conceding possession, this steadied the team and meant we had more of the ball. The boys started to play better football and the match looked like it could turn in our favour when we got a goal back. Raphael was playing as striker at the time and was holding the ball up for the team very well and not losing possession. For the goal he turned a defended and shot low forcing the goalkeeper to parry the ball into Max’s path who took the opportunity and got us back in the game.
Unfortunately our improved performance was matched by our opponents who’s finishing set them apart during the game. They took they’re chances much more than we did and that’s something for us to work on. Celtic went on to take the game to 5-1 and although the game was nearly finished and we had been defeated, the boys continued to put pressure on their opponents and made the last 15 minutes very enjoyable to watch.
The highlight of the match I feel everyone will agree was our second goal, it’s hard to fully describe the quality of the goal without being there but after a nice team move, Max found himself one on one with the goalkeeper where he produced a beautiful piece of skill. Instead of shooting low or going for power, he opted for an audacious and cheeky scoop over the goalkeeper, the reaction of the parents of both teams and the Celtic coaches said it all!
This was not the only highlight of the match however, in terms of positives to take away there were many: we were on par with and sometimes on top of the game against an experienced top group team, we created chances, we defended very well although the score line may not suggest it and the boys attitude was positive and just what I wanted after the game.
There are of course things we can work on such as finishing, making the right decision in front of goal and our passing from the back needs a little work.
Overall I am pleased with how we performed and proud of the team for their attitude, if we keep this up I am sure we will have a very positive and enjoyable time in group A!
I look forward to seeing everyone next week.