Wolves 4-3 Bootle
Team: Joe, Kyle, Ollie, Aaron, Lewis, Elliot, Ethan, Ricky, Andre, Fabio, Max, Prem, Beau
Goalscorers: Ethan x2, Ricky x2
In the first ever edition of the Knockout National Cup at U11, an exciting match against the current Merseyside champions Bootle & District awaited us after the ESFA draw. A home tie vs Gloucester awaited the winners so there was a lot at stake.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with both teams passing with purpose and moving forwards quickly. Bootle took the lead when the left winger drove down the sideline and crossed the ball into the box. Wolverhampton boys had two opportunities to clear but the ball bobbled to a Bootle player, who made no mistake 0-1. Not the start we wanted but the encouragement from everyone meant we were right back in the game. Excellent pressure from Elliot meant that the ball found it’s way to Ethan who made no mistake, lofting it over the Bootle ‘keeper to draw us level 1-1.
Bootle came strongly back into the game and went back in front, when some good passing led to the overlap and a fantastic cross from the fullback, right onto the head of the striker to make it 1-2. Again, the strong mentality from the boys allowed us to draw level almost immediately when Ethan struck a fabulous shot from distance, giving the Bootle ‘keeper no chance. 2-2. With the last kick of the half, Ricky was put through and some excellent skill meant that he saw a sighting of goal. He poked it goalward, only for a Bootle defender to get a toe onto it, wrongfooting the ‘keeper to put us 3-2 ahead at the break. The boys received lots of information at half time, which they executed excellently in the second half.
A system change at the start of the second half meant the space in the Bootle midfield was reduced. This did mean we had less attacking threat but the Wolverhampton midfield protected the defence from the barrage of through-balls and runs from the talented Bootle players. The game at this point was more cagey, as Bootle looked for the little space that the Wolves boys allowed them. The pressure was released when long ball from the back into space meant Ricky could use his blistering pace to beat the Bootle defender and the onrushing ‘keeper to the ball to slot into an empty net. A goal made from nothing – fantastic 4-2. Bootle then changed their system to commit more players forward. This left us defending for most of the last ten minutes of the game. We held firm, especially the outstanding Aaron and Ollie acting like a brick wall in front of Joe in goal. With 30 seconds left and some unfortunate deflections in the box, the ball fell to a spare player in our box and Bootle pulled a goal back 4-3. However, it was too little too late and Wolverhampton ground out the win.
Thank you to Bootle for travelling to wet and windy Wolverhampton. A high quality game between two excellent footballing sides was a truly fantastic advert for district football. It really does provide special memories and special moments for players, coaches and parents. Well done boys!