Our boys played their first game at Prendergast Ladywell School - our home away from home until Alexandra Rec dries out (sometime later this century)
We immediately recognised the team we played at their home ground in Burgess Park (nobody will forget that match!) and never wanted to win a game so much - and with a fair ref in Tom, we knew the game was ours for the taking.
The first half passed without much incident, apart from a lot of retaken throw-ins . The second half was more open with some really good Villa moves almost breaching the Elite defence. Blue Stars also had a number of attacks, mostly involving their tricky winger but any shots on goal were comfortably dealt with by Rufus. Villa almost stole it at the end with a pump upfield from Louis being glanced just wide by Finlay. So the game ended 0-0 and we went over to congratulate the players and were about to head for the cars to then to be told by Julian that this was a cup game and it was going into 10 minutes extra time and, if still a draw, penalties.
Early in the first half of extra time, Blue Stars broke and scored. Villa's heads stayed up and went in search of an equalizer which came in the second half from a free kick from Michael which Alfie cleverly jumped over to confuse the keeper and the ball crossed the line. 1-1. Villa kept on pressing and a long ball was brought down by Alfie and he smashed into the net. Nobody noticed during the pitch invasion that followed that the ref had decided that Alfie used his hand to bring the ball down, No goal. The game ended 1-1 which meant Villa's first competitive penalty shoot out
Henry, Gavin, Louis, Michael and Alfie bravely put themselves forward to be the penalty takers. Elite went first and smashed it down the middle and Rufus was there to save. Up stepped Gavin who sent the keeper the wrong way. Blue Star's next penalty was again saved by our hero goalkeeper. Up stepped Alfie and his firmly struck shot was saved by the keeper. The next Blue Stars penalty taker finally got one past Rufus. 1-1. Next up Louis who tried to guide the ball into the top left corner, but it hit the post, but Rufus saved again to keep the score at 1-1. Michael then coolly slotted the ball low to the keeper's right. 2-1. The fifth Elite penalty taker stepped up and Rufus saved again! Villa win without Henry needing to step up.
Julian praised the whole team who were all fantastic - Louis strong in the tackle and intelligent passing and Michael with his dangerous runs or balls into the box , Henry as tireless as ever with his trademark runs forward as well as back to defend, Both Alex and Gavin surging up the wings and showing some lovely touches, Finlay and Arian always busy breaking up Blue Stars; play and setting up Villa attacks, Lennon with some nice flicks to set up Alfie who never gave the Blue Stars defenders a moment's peace.But there could only be one man of the match - Rufus who literally puts himself on the line every match!