United have stayed away from small sided tournaments apart from the Wyrley one for a couple of seasons, However some of the boys had mentioned that they would like to play a few tournaments this season. Their tournament is seven a side, pitches are a decent length but not quite wide enough really, so space was certainly at a premium. We were in a league of 6 teams in the first stages of the tournament and due to play 6 minutes each half per match. Many of the teams we had come across during our last season in the Lichfield league, picking just 10 lads from our squad though wasn’t the easiest of choices.

 The first game up was against last years tournament winners Hawkins Sports Falcons, with everyone fresh and raring to go there was a lot of effort but not an abundance of chances, the teams with the bigger players with a more physical presence tended to go route one, this didn’t help the game flow much and the first half petered out to a tame 0-0, the second half was much different and Hawkins showed why they reached the winners rostrum last year as they had a good spell of possession, United were still a force on the break, and when a great through ball found Tom Wheeldon a strong Hawkins defender made up a lot of ground to attempt a block but Wheeldon got his shot away just in time to perfectly hit the top corner of the goal. Hawkins came back well and were kept at bay by a magnificent double save by Callum Mowe, United did concede though when a long throw caught United out and a slight mix up in defence allowed a simple tap in by the Hawkins striker. The game ended 1-1.

 Second up for United was Bloxwich Rangers B, the game was another tight one and both teams pretty much cancelled one another out, Wheeldon was on hand again to see his shot rebound past the advancing keeper to give United the lead 2 or 3 minutes before the end of the game, United tightened up the defensive side of the game to close out the game 1-0.

 Cresswell Colts A lined up against United for the third match, a physical Cresswell team didn’t create much during the game and United again took the lead when Wheeldon was on hand again to calmly clip the ball past the advancing Cresswell keeper. United held this lead comfortably to win again by the narrowest of margins.

 United went into their fourth game against Milford Athletic Stags with plenty of confidence. Wheeldon opened the scoring within the first minute or two, In the second half Cory Crutchley stepped up the plate to make a fantastic break down the United left, he then drew the keeper before sliding a great ball to Wheeldon to tap in his second. Wheeldon then broke free to hit United’s third, before United went into their last game they already knew they were League winners, based on all the previous results.

 Chasetown could have done with a win to help them finish higher up the league but United had got other ideas, the game was quite scrappy as Chasetown tried to use their route one approach as often as they could, Callum Mowe fending away long throw in’s regularly. United went close a couple of times, but the break through came when a Crutchley blocked shot fell kindly to the alert Wheeldon to tap in. United comfortably saw the game out.

 Quarter Finals saw United up against Eckington Juniors as first in league 1 met fourth place in league 2. United started brightly and Callum Ward capped a fine tournament performance with his first goal, getting some reward for a hard drive which deflected into the corner of the goal off an unlucky defender, United could relax when Wheeldon hit his first of the game but a superb drive put Eckington back in the tie, again some neat work from Crutchley put Wheeldon through to send the tie beyond doubt.

 Semi-finals saw United up against Hawkins Sports Falcons again, not the best of encounters it must be said, but there were some tired legs out there on the pitch as well as one or two carrying niggling injuries. Hawkins tended to go route one again but never really troubled Mowe in the United goal, the final whistle soon came and then extra time was to be played, during the second period of extra time with only 2 minutes left Wheeldon rose like a Salmon between the opponents keeper and defender to nod United in front, a few nervous moments ensued but United easily saw out the last minute of the half to reach their first tournament final!

 After a short break the final began, playing extra time in the previous round, also being at the end of a long day, United would need to drum up every last ounce of energy. Their opponents a well drilled team Betley FC from Crewe seamed to have a bit more energy, however United dug deep and great link up play again between Crutchley and Wheeldon saw the latter force the keeper into making a good save. Unfortunately United just couldn’t test their opponents further but competed well for most of the game, United unluckily lost out eventually to a goal one minute before the end of extra time.

 It was a very proud moment for me and Jason to see the lads lift a trophy albeit a runners up  one. Many of these boys have been with us since u8’s and it was great to see their progress as footballers rewarded. Well done again, you have all made a contribution in our success at this tournament, great effort Callum M, Tom R, Tom W, Elliot, Sam F, Liam, Cory, Callum W, Sam C & Lewis.


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