After last week's mid-season break, Barkingside U10s returned to action against AC Milano at Fortress of Dreams - Wanstead Flats.
Starting with a back two of George and Alfie, Barkingside immediately set about the Milano backline. Ben was asking questions from the off and was finding plenty of space behind enemy lines. AC, however, looked dangerous on the break and following one sortie into Barkingside territory, only a magnificent last gasp sliding tackle by Josh prevented an AC lead. Magnificent stuff.
In the AC final third, Barkingside were slowly applying pressure. Benji having twisted and turned the left back inside and out found Josh in the box. The ensuing shot just clearing the bar.
Alfie pinged a tremendous through ball into Benji who controlled it superbly before advancing in on goal. The massed throng on the touchline were about to cheer a goal surely? No! A great strike, but just wide. George L was having a fine game on the right flank and once again his pace was causing problems. Meanwhile, Ian had come on at the back and as ever was making life very awkward for the opponent's front line. Savanyah was also on and was controlling proceedings well.
13 minutes had elapsed when Josh latched onto a fine pass from Benji and burst into the box. This turn of pace flummoxed the AC defender who brought him down. Josh slotted home the resulting penalty with aplomb.
Barkingside continued to press and Benji made another tremendous run on the left and was really unlucky to see his shot go just wide.
Barkingside were made to pay just before half-time for not putting away their chances. AC broke at pace and slotted home. This was very much against the run of play but presented a warning to the U10s.
Half-time Barkingside 1-1 AC Milano.
The second half was a far cagier affair. AC were demonstrating their physicality and one or two challenges had the masses roaring in protest. One last challenge proved too much for the ref as Josh was once again scythed down in the box. Penalty. This time, Josh's effort beat the keeper but then struck the post before he gathered.
As to why he had been forced to take the spot kick from Sheffield will remain a mystery.
AC continued with their robust approach to the game and some of the challenges were really rather tasty. Lucas magnificently rode out two of these on a great run down the left. It was a bit like watching Willem Defoe in Platoon. The third tackle cleaned him out and Alfie went close from the resulting free kick.
George by now had the measure of the AC front line and things had calmed down significantly. Savanyah was once again imposing and composed in the middle of the pitch. However, chances were few and far between in the last 5 minutes. However, there was still time for Lewis to gather from some speculative shots and his distribution throughout had been very impressive. As the whistle blew for full time the game finished 1-1.
This was a good test for Barkingside against a very physical side. Plenty to work on on the training pitch, not least plugging gaps just in front of the defence. However, a good run out. Congratulations to Josh on his POTM - well deserved.
Well played to all the U10s too.