The Springdale football squad continued their recent good form in the Midland area finals of the Danone National 7-a-side Schools Cup. Despite missing a few regulars, the squad of Joe Harris, Ed Harris, Adam Payton, Jayden Cotter, Jaydon Senior, Blake Smith, Alex Foster and Alfie Hickman acquitted themselves superbly against a number of schools from across the Midlands, most of whom contained academy players from the likes of Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Coventry City.
Our group consisted of two other schools, St Laurence Academy from Kings Norton and Great Barr Primary from Aston. We played each school twice in the group stage, starting with an impressive 2-0 victory over St Laurence thanks to goals from Adam Payton and Jayden Cotter (who worked tirelessly in midfield throughout the tournament).
Our second game saw a disappointing 2-1 defeat against a strong Great Barr side. After going behind to an early goal, Alfie Hickman equalised before Great Barr took the lead just before half time, despite what appeared to be a blatant foul on goalkeeper Joe Harris. We suffered a further blow in the second half when Adam Payton fell awkwardly on his arm and was unable to take any further part in the competition.
The remaining 7 players battled on superbly and we claimed our second victory over St Laurence, Alex Foster’s great strike being the only goal of the game. Another tough game followed against Great Barr and, despite taking a 2-0 lead thanks to gaols from Alfie Hickman and Jaydon Senior, a strong fightback from Great Barr saw the game finish 2-2 with Joe Harris making two fantastic saves to help us claim a point.
This meant that we finished second in the group and progressed to the Semi Final where we played Clifford Bridge Academy from Coventry. They were a big, strong side containing 3 players from the Coventry City academy and they went into the semi-final with a 100% record from their groups. It was a tight game with very few chances and special mentions must go to Blake Smith and Ed Harris who defended superbly. The game ended 0-0 and a penalty shootout decided the outcome. Clifford Bridge converted all 3 of their spot kicks and despite Jayden Cotter converting his penalty, Alex Foster and Ed Harris had their efforts saved. It was a disappointing end to a great competition.
Clifford Bridge Academy went on to defeat St John Bosco Primary from Sandwell in the final by two goals to nil. Great Barr Primary forfeited the opportunity to play us for a third time in the 3rd/4th place play-off, allowing us to claim third place. This was a fitting reward for all the boys, who performed brilliantly on the day. If we had only edged past Clifford Bridge in the semi-final, I am convinced we would have won the final and progressed to the national stage of the competition.
Finally, a huge thank you to all the parents for getting your boys to the Vale Stadium in Castle Vale for 8.30am on a bitterly cold Saturday morning. Your support on the day was greatly appreciated.