Very proud of the Lions efforts, skills and hard work yesterday in the Wyrley tournament. I think the boys coped well with the new format of football and the huge progression in their organisation and interplay was clearly evident from game to game. We had a couple of new Lions getting their first tastes of competitive tournament football and myself and the parents all thought they both performed magnificently. I was very pleased with the team’s insistence on playing the ball out from the back when in possession, defending tenaciously when out of possession and always looking to be positive and launch quick counter-attacks or getting back to support their team mates when the ball was in transistion. We played four very intense, fairly even games that were played in the spirit of respect and fair competition and in a great, positive and encouraging atmosphere from the supporters on the sidelines.

Making his debut in goal, Ashley Dawkins excelled in his first games for the team, he saved nearly everything that the opposition could throw at him, making several top class saves with his hands, his feet, even his face which didn’t seem to phase him at all. He claimed or pushed away several crosses and corners and showed good distribution with his hands to get the ball back into play when he had possession. Well done Ashley, a very encouraging start.

Our second debutant was Alex Fewtrell, playing in defence for today, he showed excellent abilities in making clean tackles, showing that he has already begun to listen to the coaches’ advice to stay on his feet when trying to win the ball, which was very pleasing to see. He also showed a good range of passing when playing out from defence, showed good concentration when we were on the attack and generally ran his socks off. As with Ashley, a very encouraging start and his passion for the game and effort levels are clear, so there is no doubt that he will improve rapidly in the near future.

Jack Weaver was excellent yesterday in defence, an absolute rock. His tenacity in hounding the opposition to pressure them and win the ball is unmatched. He’s become strong particularly at one on one defending and rarely lets his opponent get away from him and when he does, he always gives it his all to get back and recover and often wins the ball at the second time of asking. He also put in several important blocks to protect our goal. He demonstrated his prowess at the other end of the pitch too as we chased a late equaliser in one game, playing more forward than usual to support the attack, he hit one long range shot that was just over the bar and then a minute or so later, hit a similar shot from distance which agonisingly hit the bar, denying him a goal that would have been richly deserved. Great effort Jack, particularly in the final game where he didn’t let the blisters that had formed on his heel stop him from giving 100% effort. What a Lion!

Ben Spooner was our midfield maestro for the day. Ben has always been comfortable on the ball and able to pick out a pass, this weekend was no different as he was able to start a lot of our counter attacks by being in the right place at the right time to pick up loose balls and pass the ball forward out to Lewis and Josh on the wings or Oliver up front. Ben also put a shift in in defence, dropping deep to help out Alex and Jack when needed and making himself available for passes when we were playing out from defence. Great work as always Ben, keep it up!

Lewis Seedhouse played out on the right wing and he used the space afforded to him by staying out wide to make several dangerous dribbles deep into the opposition half which usually ended in him being double, triple teamed or getting ‘chopped’ as he likes to call it with bad tackles. He and Ben linked up well in the middle of the pitch, exchanging some nice short, sharp passes with each other to create space. Lewis has a never say die attitude and it showed in his defensive work where he was always keen to get back and help out his team mates or try and use his strength and balance to win the ball back, often turning well to start up potential counter attacks. Excellent effort all day from the champ!

Joshua Hodson was in his preferred spot on the left wing to fully utilise that sweet left foot of his and he had an excellent tournament, scoring three spectacular goals, two long range rockets across the keeper and into the far top corner from the left side of the pitch, one of which was a last second equaliser and he also scored a well-taken free kick in the knock out stages. He showed his versatility too at times, dropping back into defence when we were under pressure, being proactive in trying to get the ball so he could use his skills to bamboozle the opposition and drive positively into the opposition half before looking to get the ball into the box for his team mates or getting a shot off at goal.

Last but not least, Oliver Donoghue was ‘the big man up top’, ‘the fox in the box’ and our main striker for the day. It was a productive day for Oliver as he got himself an assist with an angled through ball that gave Joshua time and space to score and equalise for us in one game and he also bagged himself a goal, coolly slotting home a cross from the wing into the bottom corner. He showed much more determination to close down the opposition defenders when they were trying to play out from the back and the pressure he applied forced the opposition into several mistakes which managed to win us possession high up the field with a good chance of scoring. He showed good control on the half-turn when receiving the ball and good, quick, precise dribbling skills to take on and beat the opposition defenders and was ‘unlucky’ to be taken out by a defender at one point when through on goal, but he didn’t let this effect his game, which was pleasing to see.

All in all, definitely a positive learning experience for the boys as we move onto the next tournament at Walsall Phoenix next weekend and definitely some encouraging signs in terms of support play, gelling as a team and becoming more calm and comfortable on the ball when under pressure.

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