The Blackburn Soccerdome played host to an epic battle in the ADJFL Black League this Saturday as the Junior Hoops u7 Saints took on Oswaldtwistle Juniors.
The game went one way and then the next with both sides showing flair, skill, tenacity and a whole lot of heart in a thrilling draw that was a fair result for both teams substantial efforts.
The Saints flew out the blocks and pressed high and fast in the opening five minutes and took what looked to be a commanding lead and tight grip of the game. The opening goal was an OG after a full press from Seb, Oakley and Teddy put the Oswaldtwistle defence under immediate pressure as they looked to play out from the back. One quickly became two as Seb showed sleight of feet to beat his marker and finish emphatically past the keeper. Two then two became three as Teddy broke free down the right and smashed home from an acute angle into the far corner.
With their tails up the Saints continued to pour forward only to be denied from a brilliant goalkeeping display from the Junior’s shot stopper.
With ten minutes on the clock however the game changed. A powerful strike from distance from Oswaldtwistle’s centre half was the goal they needed to change the script and from there until the end of the first half it was the Juniors turn to step up the intensity and harry and pressure the Saints all over the pitch. Goal after goal followed and the score went from 3-0 to 6-3 in a little under 8 minutes… and it would have been more if it wasn’t for some phenomenal blocks and last ditch tackles from Oscar.
As the half time whistle blew Assistant Manager James had to deliver a calm and collected team talk with the Saints clearly rattled.
A tactical switch saw Huey move into the goal and Matthew move into midfield in a position he played so well in last week against Wilpshire. Job one was to stem the flow of attacks from Oswaldtwistle and with Oakley dropping deeper to support Oscar and some tireless running from Matthew, and Seb down the flanks the game took on more of an even pattern as both teams had chances which they were unable to finish. With 8 minutes left on the clock the Saints threw caution to the wind and piled forward only to be hit with on the counter. 7-3 down and the game looked gone.
Cue the comeback!
In a mirror image of his first goal, Teddy again went on a charging run down the right beating two Ossy players and slotting home from a tight angle ten yards out. 7-4. A minute later it was the same move again although instead of taking the shot on, Teddy played a teasing ball across the edge of the area. Oakley timed his run to perfection slamming home with power from the edge of the D. 7-5 and four minutes to go. Silence was falling around the pitch as the tension was felt by the parents. The one place it wasn’t felt was on the pitch however and this time it was Matthew’s chance to turn provider and his clever pass from the left found Teddy unmarked in the box to slot home.
7-6 and the Saints sensed a game that looked lost could be salvaged. Oswaldtwistle weren’t going to lie down however and after a quick direct ball from the goalkeeper found the Ossy attacker unmarked on the right a cute finish looked to put the game beyond the Saints at 8-6 with only two minutes left.
Drawing on their short but eventful experiences the Saints don’t know when they are beat. Huey broke from defence and spread the ball wide to Matthew. His early strike was deflected into the path of Oakley who brought it back to a one goal game.
Both sets of parents were checking their watches. A a calm message of ‘play your game’ from James on the sideline and ‘you will get another chance’ seemed more in hope but he knew what his charges were capable of. Oscar took the ball from Seb in goals and stepped pass the Ossy attacker and played the ball to Teddy on the right. With the clock ticking down to the final few seconds Teddy again broke down the wing riding two challenges on his way. The Soccer Dome drew breath as Teddy fired in from the tightest of angles off the far post.
8-8. The final whistle blew and both teams could be proud of an extraordinary game. You forget sometimes this is U7 football with the skill and effort on show.
C’mon the Hoops!