Giles Academy vs QEGS Sixth Form 1st XI, Wednesday 15th November 2017
After a convincing victory over Boston College a week ago, it was that time again for the QEGS Sixth Form 1st XI to go head to head with another school in a game of football. Their opponents would welcome them to Giles Academy in Old Leake, who had only played one game so far this season and lost to Carre’s Grammar School and so this was the perfect opportunity for the boys to use their momentum from the last game to get their third win of this campaign. For the second week in a row Nick Benton was absent through injury, but one much different from the week prior and sadly much more serious. The current status means the centre-half will be unable to play again until after the Christmas break. Unfortunately injuries seem to be plaguing the central defensive position as Benton’s partner Sam Emerson was also ineligible for selection. This meant, with room for thirteen on the minibus, Mr Cope would bring in Jack Cooke as his replacement. Depth is a topic previously covered multiple times and this QEGS squad certainly has much of that.
Before the game had kicked off it became rather apparent that QEGS weren't in for the best game of football. The opposition were not looking the sharpest, but that did not mean that the visitors could just turn up and take a win. Starting on the front foot QEGS pushed for an early goal. A smooth turn inside from the left, followed by a cool pass slotted in behind the defenders from Kenneally-Forrester sent the ball back to the left of the box giving Gowshall a good chance to open the scoring. He eyed up the chance with time on the ball and tried to curl a shot into the far side-netting. A miss. Unlike the number nine, but the move showed that it would only be a matter of time before the Giles goalkeeper would be picking the ball out of his goal.
Disappointingly QEGS struggled to get out of first gear and it took a wake-up call in the form of Jenkins’ near post being rattled to make them realise that the opposition can only be laughed at once they’d actually beaten them at the end of the match. Promisingly an instant reply was given from the boys in burgundy, going from being inches away from trailing, to finding themselves a goal to the good seconds later. A quick counter attack down the right from Kenneally-Forrester lead to scenes all too familiar for the striker, having his shot saved, but not stopped. On its way for the number ten’s second of the season, Littleworth was there to commit the criminal act, tapping the ball into the unguarded net.
A small scare came not long after the restart of play, with a lack of communication from Midmer and his goalkeeper, when a long ball was played into the box and neither took command of the situation. The ball bounced straight in front of the centre-half and over the head of Jenkins towards goal. Luckily his reactions were fast enough to prevent the ball crossing the line and kept hold of it before any attackers could bag the loose ball. Another wake-up call. This one would hopefully be the last.
QEGS began to up their game and chances started to come more regularly for the attackers. The midfield brilliance of Jenkins was now on show for all to see, feeding lethal passes to the front three, creating chances thick and fast. Finding himself in the box this time, he dragged a pass back to Gowshall unmarked about 12 yards from goal. Not in his usual form, he missed another chance, blazing it well over the crossbar. Everybody makes mistakes though and the captain remained faithful to the forward, creating another chance for him by picking up a loose ball for an advantage after Jordan had been brought down on the left side at the edge of the box. Jenkins played it to Gowshall’s feet, ran round the back of him towards goal and got it back with a reverse ball. One final pass back to Gowshall laid into the centre of the box was finally converted with a side-foot to the right of the goalkeeper for his first of the game and QEGS’ second.
Now beginning to flourish, the visitors looked to make it three before the end of the half. This time it was Dean that found himself inside the box, but unable to get a shot away he was instead brought down for a penalty kick. There was only ever one person who was stepping up for this chance. With a long haunting history of missed penalties, the captain took the ball in his hands and placed it on the spot. Maybe his new method of penalty taking was the key to success, having converted once already from 12 yards in the first game of the season. The whistle blew. The goalkeeper stood stationary before retrieving the ball out of his goal. A cool penalty, passed into the bottom right corner for his fourth of the season.
Finding themselves in a comfortable position QEGS slowed down the pace of the game. Giles though took this as an open invite to put some pressure on the defence before the break. A winger of the home team dribbled the ball out wide and into the corner. This immaturely dragged too many of the defenders and a few skilful touches allowed him to wriggle through and sneak a shot in at the near post. An undeserved goal, but one that was brought on by themselves, the absence of Benton and Emerson perhaps showing.
The teams made their way in at the break, one team more disappointed than the other. Mr Cope’s words were more than justified when saying that we had been poor taking chances and defensively some unnecessary hiccups were just simply embarrassing. Clear objectives of a clean sheet and more goals in the second half were set and the substitution of Dean for Robinson and Caswell for Cooke were made. Haskins shifted into full-back and Lindsey pushed forward into the midfield as the defensive duo started the second half.
With nothing more to lose Giles threw as many men forward as they could. The performance for QEGS sadly deteriorated due to this and the game turned into nothing more than that similar to tennis, playing long ball whenever either team received it. Fortunately for the defence the height and strength of Cooke was the perfect match for this style of poor quality football from Giles. Every time the defence stood their ground and won the ball back, an over hit pass was often played for one of the front three to chase. The home side’s goalkeeper, who put in the best performance by far, would run out at incredible speed off his line to make sure that none of the long balls were successful. With the ball in his hands he proceeded to boot it back into the QEGS half, only for the defence to win it back and the cycle to begin again.
To try and end this repetitive cycle Mr Cope made another substitution, bringing Caswell back on for Jordan and a formation change to 4-4-2. Changes began to show and occasionally QEGS put together strings of passes that were much more like themselves, hitting them with more intent than just clearing the danger. A final substitution of Haskins for Dean was made, giving a bit more pace and energy into the midfield as Caswell retreated into his full-back position.
Jenkins took the remaining minutes by the reigns, helping to win the ball back with the defence and showing composure when going forward, consistently threading dangerous passes to Gowshall and Kenneally-Forrester. Two key chances at the very end were created in similar fashion to each other. Jenkins sending through the two strikers on separate occasions, a poor save from the goalkeeper allowed Gowshall to finish for the fourth and Kenneally-Forrester was unable to pull off an audacious chip in the last minute of the game.
A good result, but the QEGS Sixth Form 1st XI will perhaps feel that the score line flattered the opposition’s performance. With 9 points from 5 games QEGS go top of the league table. Despite having played more games, the points are on the board and it’s a game of catch up for the remaining schools in the league.
Man of the Match: Jamie Jenkins
Top goal scorers 2017/18:
8 - Max Gowshall
4 - Jamie Jenkins
2 - George Littleworth
1 - Blake Kennelly-Forrester
1 - Oli Dean
Match report by Ben Robinson