After qualifying as runners up in the London North regional finals, in January, a squad of 7 boys travelled to Nottingham to play in the National 5-a-side Finals. These finals had been postponed due to waterlogged pitches in May. This time the ISA organisers were taking no chances with the weather and the matches were played on astro-turf pitches. Twenty-four teams from the 6 ISA regions were competing for the cup. The competition started with four leagues of 6, with the top two teams progressing to the knockout stages. There were 5 matches, lasting 12 minutes each.
Alleyn Court 1 Gateway 0
Scarisbrook Hall 1 Gateway 3 Cormac N, Hector C, Jack W.
St Faith’s 4 Gateway 5 Oli L 2, Hector C 2, Harry N
Broomfield 5 Gateway 0
Priory 2 Gateway 3 Cormac N, Hector C, Harry N
The boys got a rude awakening in the first match, despite having the better of the play, Alleyn C grabbed the winner, which would later prove a costly loss. Oli L was carried off during this match and was lucky to play any further part in the day’s competition, after he was wiped off his feet and rammed into the sideboards by a very crude and ill timed challenge that left my spectators aghast. Generally the matches were fast and furious and proved to be bruising encounters with little time to settle on the ball.
After being patched up by an ambulance crew, it was amazing to see Oli returned to the team with a cut and blackened eye. It was a timely return as Jack W limped off in the match against St Faith’s with an ankle injury and strained hamstring.The day took a turn for the worse when Cormac N had to be substituted after injuring his foot in the game against Priory. The boys battled in all areas of the pitch and played some excellent football, during the league stages and only struggled in the game against Broomfield who proved to be formidable opponents. When all the points were tallied, Gateway were 1 point short of qualifying for the knockout stages, finishing in third place.
By coming third place Gateway qualified for the Plate competition and had to play a further 3 games with their 5 remaining players. Having already played an hour’s intense football it placed huge pressure on these players; knowing their was no possibility of them having a rest. Hector C dropped into defence to play alongside Alex P. This left the Harry and Oli (Yr 5) to run the attack. James G did his best, in goal, to keep out the opposition.
The team responded really well and thought they had won their match against Weston Green, only to concede, an equaliser, in the last 10 seconds of play!
The team went one down against Rockwood but showed great spirit to storm back to win 4-2, with Oli L scoring all four goals! The team now faced the prospect of playing in the Plate final; if they could draw with, or beat, Trinity. In another exciting game, Gateway took the lead only to see it slip away in the final few minutes of the game. They left the pitch exhausted! It was a bitter blow to the boys who had played some fantastic passing football and scored some stunning goals to come so close. With Alex P a new casualty, it was probably fortunate that this was the end of the road!
The boys were a real credit to the school. Their behaviour and performance throughout the day was exemplary and despite the heated conditions of this cauldron of competition they were modest in victory and gracious in defeat; playing fairly and remaining sporting at all times. HJ/RG
Weston Green 1 Gateway 1 Oli L,
Rookwood 2 Gateway 4 Oli L 4
Trinity 2 Gateway 1 Harry N