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News & Match Reports U13 Boys Red

Norfolk Park 1 Crosspool Reds 2 

Image result for football cup clipartImage result for football cup clipartDouble Victory! 

Another week, another trophy! This was a chance for the lads to make a real name for themselves and complete a league and cup double with our opponents from the Blue League, Norfolk Park, standing in our way. We got off to a slow start with Norfolk looking to play us at our own game, pressing and playing the ball quickly in midfield. They did this effectively and we were on the back foot with their midfield controlling the middle of the park. Archie had to race off his line to prevent their centre forward from getting a shot in on goal on a couple of occasions. He did this brilliantly and Max, John and Ben also had to be at their best to keep Norfolk out. We were starting to get a foothold in the game though, testing the opposition's defence with Pierre and Ed's pace. We did look nervous on the ball though and were struggling to get our passing game going. The game was frantic with little space in midfield for either side as both teams played similar formations, looking to flood the midfield with bodies. Will Day and Joe were starting to get on top in the middle, with some assistance from Ed who realised he needed to drop a little and help against their deep midfielder. Pierre was getting through a tremendous amount of work up front, always a threat with his pace and power. The first goal went to us after Will Gresh played a lovely ball behind their left sided defender for Ed to run onto. His pace took him away from their defence but the keeper advanced to try and narrow the angle. As he did at Chesterfield, Ed once again showed fantastic composure, lifting his head and placing the ball past their keeper's left hand and into the net. The goal was slightly against the run of play but, playing against the wind and uphill, it was an important goal for us to score. The lead seemed to relax us a little and we started to move the ball better. We still weren't quite hitting our usual heights but we were now definitely on top. Noah was getting through some good work on the left while Will Gresh was doing well on the right (despite having the coach in his ear!). Dylan was superb once again, cutting out any danger before it got to the back three. Anything that did escape Dylan's clutches was kept out by Max, Dylan and Ben who were doing brilliantly to keep their forwards out. Archie was brave, taking a knock after racing off his line to beat their forward to the ball. We were more than happy to get to half-time with the score 1-0 and the prospect of playing downhill in the 2nd half.

We spoke in the break about the importance of the next goal and, with the game being so tight, the same players were sent out for the 2nd half. We started the 2nd half really well and were creating chances for the forwards. Pierre was unlucky with a couple of half-chances that wouldn't quite sit for him. Joe was getting through a lot of work in the middle and playing some neat balls through to our strikers. We were definitely on top now but the Norfolk Park defence held out well. James came on to replace Will Day in midfield and did really well to adjust to the pace of the game straight away. Will Gresh whipped a corner in from the left which just had a bit too much on it. We then got a corner on the right which Gresh floated this time, the ball sailing towards the back post for Max to rise above their defenders and bullet into the roof of the net. A great time for the captain to score! Zac replaced Noah at left wing-back with the instruction to not venture too far up the field and he did exactly what was asked. We pushed for a third and Ed was unlucky not to score with his right foot with their keeper managing to tip around the post for another corner. We really needed that third goal and were creating chances but weren't quite able to take them. Alex came on to replace Gresh with Ed moving to right midfield and Alex going up front. While we struggled to get that third goal Norfolk were always in it and after we failed to deal with a bouncing ball for the first time their forward pounced but John and Max recovered brilliantly, with Ben racing back and Archie advancing to force him wide. The forward did really well to get a cause panic in our area. There was a bit of goalmouth scramble as we tried to clear but Norfolk eventually forced the ball over the line. 2-1 and the nerves were really starting to jangle. We looked to keep the ball in their half and play out some time and this worked well although Crosspool hearts were in their mouths whenever Norfolk broke. Lewis came on for Pierre and almost got himself in on goal with his first touch. The ref seemed to be taking an eternity to blow the final whistle but he eventually put it to his mouth to signal the end of the game.

So, the season ends with a cup final victory for the Crosspool Reds. We just about edged it although Norfolk pushed us all the way. We weren't at our best but sometimes a cup final can be a nervy occasion for all concerned (players, spectators and coaches alike!). All in all, a fantastic season for the lads. Every one of the squad have played their part in securing the double and they should all be proud of themselves. There were a few contenders for man of the match today with Dylan, Ed, Joe and Max all impressing. However, the match officials took the pressure off today by making the decision and Max was deservedly given the award. A fantastic performance and a fantastic first season from the big fella. Max is a great lad and has fitted in well with the rest of the lads. It was great to see him pick up the trophy on behalf of the team and his own personal award.

Chesterfield 1 Crosspool Reds 1

This was the archetypal game of two halves. In the first, we were poor, possibly suffering from a league victory hangover and maybe letting success go to our heads. Chesterfield also had a point to prove and came at us from the off. We'd changed to a 4-4-2 and this wasn't really working as we were getting overrun in midfield. Pierre and Lewis weren't getting the service up front so dropped deep to try and get on the ball. Will G and John were out of sorts in the middle and struggling to get control of the game, admittedly against a strong midfield presence.  Chesterfield took a deserved lead midway through the first half after the ball was played in the right channel behind our defence for their striker to race onto and finish well. They were unlucky not to add to their tally as they pushed us back and won a succession of corners. Archie was the only real player that could come out of the first half with any credit as he kept us in the game with some good saves and excellent sweeping up behind our defence. We were glad to get to half-time with only a one goal deficit.

The lads were given a few home truths at half-time with 4 substitutions made. We also switched to 3 at the back and it was made clear that we needed to get on the front foot if we were to get anything from the game. To the lad's credit they showed much greater intensity in the 2nd half. Ed set the tone up front reminding their defenders they were in a game by pressing and playing on the shoulder of the last man. We looked much more composed at the back - Max. Ben and John tenacious in the tackle and organised, preventing the long ball behind them just by playing closer together. Joe offered some bite in midfield, with Will Day getting on the ball and driving us forward. Will G and Noah were now pressing their fullbacks into their own half and winning their personal battles. This was a great improvement and we were now looking more like the league champions. We were also making chances - Joe playing in Noah on goal with Noah firing at their keeper. We kept on pushing for an equaliser but Chesterfield were resolute in defence. Pierre was doing all he could to try and fashion a chance but time was running out for the equaliser. Will Gresh put in some great corners and crosses but we couldn't quite get on the end of them and it was looking like we may be facing our 2nd defeat of the season at the hands of Chesterfield. Pierre picked the ball up deep and turned to run at their defence, riding three strong challenges. He had the presence of mind to spot Will G on the right hand side and played a good ball into his feet. Will then showed great composure and picked Ed out in the penalty area. Ed controlled, lifted his head and passed the ball into the bottom corner of the net. A calm and composed finish. We pushed for a further goal with Alex coming on to replace Noah and try and grab one from the left wing. It wasn't to be though and it was probably the right result in the end.

Good 2nd half performance from the lads who could easily have had their eye on the cup final at the weekend but showed their pride and character to give a good Chesterfield team plenty to think about. Special mention must go to Chesterfield who showed great sportsmanship after the game, clapping us off the pitch as champions. Man of the match went to John who recovered from a first half that didn't meet his previously high standards to impress in defence while getting us on the front foot going forward. Well done John!

Ardsley Athletico 2 Crosspool Reds 3 

Campione, campione, ole, ole ole!Image result for football cup clipart

Phew! What a rollercoaster of a game that was. Another humdinger against our close rivals, Ardsley, on a cool but sunny spring day in Barnsley. We started well showing little in the way of nerves considering this game could decide the title. We knew nothing could be lost today but we also knew that it would make our job a whole lot easier if we could clinch the victory today and go to Chesterfield as Champions. We were well in control on a small pitch, playing most of the game in the opposition's half. Will G was looking lively on the right hand side putting in some dangerous crosses which his opposite wing back, Noah, almost managed to get on the end of. Pierre and Joe worked their back line well with some clever movement and combinations. Taylor and Will D were conducting from the middle winning the ball early and passing well. At the back, Ben, John and Max looked as solid as ever giving little away. Archie was mostly a spectator although a vocal one, commanding his defence from behind. The early warning Ardsley were given went unheeded when, once again, Gresh whipped in a fantastic cross and this time Noah was on hand to finish emphatically into the roof of the net. Noah has been a real asset this season with his work rate and ability on the ball but his 14 goals from midfield have made a massive contribution to our title challenge. The Ardsley keeper had to be alert as he made 3 fine saves from our long range shots, one in particular which he tipped round the post from a Will Gresh curler comes to mind. We were also putting in some dangerous corners which really should have been attacked but flew across the box to the Ardsley defence's relief. Dylan, really suiting the deep midfield role he's been playing recently, was putting in a lot of hard work to prevent them from playing through balls behind our defence and this nullified the threat of their forward. He also looked to play clever balls into our midfielders and forwards' feet getting us back on the attack. Taylor was everywhere - making tackles one minute, running at defenders the next. Unfortunately the pitch size meant he was getting crowded once he got around their area and there was little space for him to open his legs. Pierre was unlucky with a clever toe-poke which arrowed just wide of the right upright and Joe almost got on the end of a clever Will Day through ball. We were on top but needed the cushion of another goal to settle the nerves. Alex was brought on for Will Day with Joe moving back into midfield and Alex got himself involved straight away jumping bravely with their centre half for a header. He was also making some good runs into space but we were too focused on trying to play Pierre in behind rather than looking to release him through a wall pass from Alex. The whistle went for half-time with the score at 1-0. This didn't really reflect our dominance but we weren't quite at the top of our game to be fair.

At half-time we spoke about relaxing on the ball, showing a little more composure and patience. We also needed to show a bit more of a ruthless streak in front of goal and look to finish the game off. James came on for Noah on the left hand side. To be honest, the 2nd half was all a bit of a blur. You know when people have been through trauma and they're unable to recall any of the traumatic moments? Well, that's how your roving reporter feels now! It all started so placidly too. We went back out and carried on controlling the game. Ardsley looked a little more threatening but Max, Ben and John handled everything that was thrown their way and Archie didn't have a great deal to do. We threatened their goal without really testing their keeper. Zac came onto replace Dylan with James moving centrally and he was involved in a good move down the left hand side which almost got Pierre clear. We were turning the screw now and pushing for the safety of that 2nd goal. A good move on the right saw the ball fall to Will Gresh just outside the area with seemingly little on. Will showed his class and ability by wrapping his left foot around the ball and curling it past the keeper's outstretched arm and into the back of the net - 2-0. Lewis came onto replace Joe with Will G moving into the middle and Lewis on the right. We were looking comfortable but then had our first wobble of the title run-in. A poorly defended corner saw an unmarked Ardsley player rise and head into the net. We were now in a game and our resolve was about to be severely tested. Ardsley's tails were up and they were pushing for an equaliser. Hearts were in mouths as a shot from afar drifted wide of Archie's right hand post. Then disaster struck. A cross cum shot from the Ardsley left was misjudged by Archie and we were in shock as it nestled in the back of the net. Were the wheels about to come off on the Crosspool title challenge as shades of our Chesterfield collapse came back to haunt us? We had to act quick and Dylan, Will Gresh and Joe came on to replace Alex, Zac and Lewis with minutes left to rescue the 3 points. It was harsh on the 3 lads who came off as they'd done very little wrong - this was purely a spur of the moment decision to try and get us back on the front foot. Luckily it worked. With the clock ticking it was looking like we were going to have to play a title decider away at Chesterfield next Thursday. But Joe intercepted and broke at pace from the edge of our penalty area into their half. He fed Will Gresh who hit a great shot which their keeper did well to save. This all seemed to be happening in slow motion as the ball fell to Pierre and he pulled his right foot back. It was struck well. But, miraculously, their keeper saved again. This time the ball fell between their defenders and our attack. Time stood still. Then. Cometh the hour, cometh Pierre. He somehow managed to get to the ball first and bundle it over the line. The Crosspool supporters, players and coaches went wild (well, got quite excited). We were back in the lead with minutes left. But the minutes felt like hours and hearts were in mouths again whenever Ardsley moved forward. Eventually the whistle sounded to end the game and confirm the crowning of Crosspool Juniors Reds u13 as the Division B League Champions! 

We did it! Yes, we made hard work of it. And yes, we didn't play to the best of our ability. But these lads found another way of winning a game. Albeit, one that I'd prefer us not to try again! We've said on numerous occasions that hard work, desire and character are what win you leagues. Ability goes a long way but will only win you some games. Luckily, these lads have all of these things and had to draw on each one of them today. It has been a great squad effort that every single one of the lads have played their parts in. They should all be very proud of themselves. There were a few contenders for man of the match. Ben had a great game at the back as did his defensive team-mates, Max and John. Dylan also worked well in front of the defence. Will Gresh sprinkled his class all over the game and got himself another goal showing what a great addition he's been to the squad. Pierre worked hard up front and eventually got the goal his performance deserved. But, our captain fantastic, Taylor, edged it with his tireless running, clever positioning and battling qualities. Well done Taylor. And well done lads!  

Sheffield Rangers 1 Crosspool Reds 5 

This was our fourth meeting of the season against Rangers with a definite pattern emerging. On a small and congested Jubilee pitch it was a bit of a scrappy affair but the result was never really in doubt. We controlled the game throughout and were set on our way with an early goal from Noah after he followed up on his own header to side foot into the corner. We'd set the team up to press from the front and Joe and Pierre put the hard miles in to make sure this kept Rangers in their own half. We looked really solid at the back - James, Max and Ben carried on from where they left off the previous week, keeping things simple and making sure they were compact. In the midfield, Dylan once again played in the anchor role, giving Will Day and Ed license to get forward. Despite what we'd said though, we were still trying to thread the ball through the centre of the opposition defence with Will G and Noah under utilised. We did make another breakthrough though when we moved the play wide right and Will G struck one past their keeper. Joe was unlucky with a glancing header which just sailed wide of their post and Pierre thundered a couple of shots just over. It was pretty much one way traffic and their keeper made some good saves to keep them in the game. Alex came on for Noah on the left and almost released Pierre with one of his trademark slide rule passes. We eventually got our 3rd after Joe who forced their keeper into a rushed clearance which hit their defender on the head and was directed back into goal. John came on for Ed soon after and Zac replaced Will Gresh. The ref blew the whistle for half-time with the score at 3-0.

The 2nd half saw more of the same. Lewis and Taylor came on for James and Will Day but the shape stayed the same. We did take our foot off the pedal slightly but Max and Ben were winning every challenge whenever the ball crossed our halfway line. Archie was also in fine form too, communicating brilliantly with his defence and coming off his line well whenever required. We gave away a bit of a cheap penalty after failing to make the first tackle outside the box and then making a rash challenge inside the box. Their penalty taker succumbed to the Waterall mind games with Archie guessing right and diving to his left to make a great save. Unfortunately they were first on the ball and one of the Rangers players bundled the ball into the net. There were a few complaints about him already being in the area but the ref gave a goal. Zac was putting in some good work on the right flank combining well with Noah and Pierre and showing great strength on the ball. Ed came on for Joe up front and immediately got himself involved winning a penalty of our own. He picked himself up and showed great composure to open his body and place into the bottom left corner. John and Taylor were busying themselves in midfield, just making sure that Rangers understood which team were in charge of this game. Will Gresh was also showing his class on the ball, coming deep and being brave in possession on a tight pitch. Our fifth and final goal came through Lewis who was now playing up front and found himself free on the right hand side. He lifted his head up to see their keeper advancing towards him and arced the ball over him and into the net (although the look on his face suggested that wasn't quite the finish he had in mind!). Rangers were probably glad to hear the final whistle after their fourth defeat against us although, to be fair, it shows the strength of the league to reflect on four fairly close games we've played against them and our relative positions.

Another 3 points, leaving us 4 points clear at the top with 2 games left. This was by no means a vintage performance but we played the pitch well and got the result. Dylan had another great game in midfield, John and Taylor both did well when they came on, Joe impressed in a slightly different role and Archie was excellent. Max just edged the man of the match award from his defensive partner Ben, organising brilliantly and winning everything at the back - well done, Max.

 

Crosspool Reds 4 Darfield 0

Darfield 0 Crosspool Reds 5 

A home and away double header against our opponents from Barnsley. Neither of the performances reached the heights of the previous week but the two clean sheets for Archie and his defence showcased our ability at the back as well as going forward. Regardless of what centre forwards might say - good defences are what win you leagues! Darfield, to be fair to them, were strong and resolute and, especially at home, gave us a real test. They set up to stop us scoring in both games and deny us space further forward. We had to find solutions during the game and to the lads credit they did just that, patiently probing and trusting in our ability to eventually find the net. 

In the first game 2 great goals from Noah set us on the way. Pierre and Alex added to the tally. Dylan was man of the match after a defensive midfield masterclass, positioning himself perfectly throughout the game and winning just about every header and tackle he was involved in. The second game was closer than the scoreline suggests with Darfield exerting some real pressure in the first half and us struggling to clear our lines or play any real football on a slow and compact pitch. A fantastic tackle from Max made it clear to our opponents that we're no soft touch  - ball, man and everything else were taken in what's now known as a Channer special. A shake of hands afterwards also showed what Max is all about. We were much better in the 2nd half after a bit of a verbal volley from the manager. We began to find the flanks and move the ball quicker and Darfield looked to tire. Ed set us on the way after an excellent finish from a good through ball, then an emphatic header into the roof of the net. We then started to show our class. Noah added another 2 goals to take his season's tally to 12, making him third top scorer in the team (no mean achievement when you look at the goals we have in the side!). Joe also found his shooting boots with a composed finish. Man of the match was Taylor who, despite having to deal with a few robust challenges, worked his socks off and bossed things in the 2nd half.

Three league games to go and it's all getting very exciting! The good thing is, the lads are keeping their composure, showing their class in games and doing whatever is needed to win the game. A good side can win any number of ways and we seem to have developed that over the season which is a real achievement. Keep it up lads! 

Tusaale 1 Crosspool Reds 7

What a performance! We didn't put a foot wrong in a game where a strong Tusaale team that had taken points off two of our closest rivals were made to look ordinary. With our keeper missing we decided that attack would be the best form of defence and came racing out of the blocks to impose our game on the opposition. Right from the first whistle we pressed, we harried, we battled and we played our football. Ed and Pierre set the tone up front, forming an impressive partnership to leave their back line wondering what had hit them. Whenever their defence escaped the front-line press, Will Day, Taylor, Noah and Will Gresh were waiting to ensure they didn't have time to get their heads up. Dylan, playing in front of our back three, was excellent, taking up some great positions and reading the game superbly. Our back three of Ben, John and Max were incredible - up against a quick and strong forward line they stayed compact, giving them nothing but a hard time. Lewis was also impressive, showing composure and good decision making whenever he was called upon (Archie who?) Our first goal came through Ed who was rewarded for his persistence, winning the ball back high up the pitch and finding himself through on goal to finish brilliantly. Tusaale came back at us though and Max had to make two excellent last ditch tackles to prevent their striker from testing Lewis. John and Ben were also really impressive, defending without any great fuss but with real efficiency. We rode out their reaction and took control once again really pushing the opposition back and playing quickly in all the right areas. Noah was particularly impressive on the left, his energy and commitment were excellent and he offered a real threat down the line. We were pushing for another goal but their keeper made some good saves and it was looking like the half-time score would be 1-0. Just on the stroke of half-time though, Ed had a strong penalty claim when he looked to be pushed to the ground in the area. The ref waved play on which didn't go down well with Ed but his next reaction was superb. He picked himself up and charged the ball down. forcing their defender to rush his pass. The ball fell to Will Gresh who teed Will Day up outside the area. He still had a lot to do but he struck it sweetly into the roof of the net to score his 10th goal of the season and take us into the half-time break 2-0 up.

We spoke at half-time about the need to keep the tempo up in the 2nd. With only 11 men and spending most of the 1st half fighting to stay in the game, Tusaale were going to struggle to keep this up. The next goal was all important. Joe came on for Will Day to give us some fresh legs in the middle. The lads went out and did exactly what was asked of them. Once again they flew out of the blocks and pushed the opposition back towards their goal. Taylor was everywhere in the middle, winning all of his battles and pushing us forward with the ball. Joe was neat in possession recycling the ball and looking to play the strikers in. Pierre finally got his reward for an impressive performance with a well-taken goal to make it 3-0 and this seemed like the fatal blow. They still tried to get back in the game but John, Max and Ben were impregnable. James came on to give D a well earned rest, slotting into the defensive midfield role. Alex also gave Noah a rest with Ed moving to left midfield. Zac also came on at right wing-back for Will G. All three showed great determination and played as big a part as those that started. Alex, in particular, seemed to have a point to prove and he did that times-three, netting a superb hatrick in the space of about 20 minutes. We were 6 up now and you could only really feel for our opponents as we refused to let up on them. Zac was desperate to get himself on the score sheet and almost did after he couldn't quite get on the end of a good through ball from Taylor. Lewis came out of goal, swapping with Ed, and duly got himself on the scoresheet - a well deserved goal after an impressive performance in net. With the score at 7-0 the game was over but, unfortunately, we didn't quite keep that clean sheet that we'd have liked to have told Archie about. A hopeful shot from outside the area zipped past Ed into the bottom corner. It highlighted our dominance of the game when we realised this was actually their first shot on target. The final whistle went soon after with the game finishing 7-1.

This was our best performance of the season by a long way and it bodes well that we really are stepping things up in the big games - we've a few more of these to come! Once again the team performance was the most impressive aspect and, if it wasn't for Dave saying it would be a cop out to award the team man of the match, the team would have been awarded it. We really couldn't make our mind up with every single player having a blinder. Special mention has to go to Lewis who was brave in putting his hand up to go in goal in such an important game. Max and Ben were immense at the back. D too in that holding role. Taylor, the two Wills, Noah, Ed - the list goes on. However, the coach had to make an executive decision to avoid accusations of copping out! Man of the match was John who played a quietly efficient but immensely important role. Without doing anything particularly spectacular he was masterful in everything he did. He didn't put a foot wrong all game against a very good player. Well done John!

Crosspool Reds 13 Wickersley Blues 2

An emphatic reaction to last week's disappointing cup exit. Poor Wickersley felt the full force of the Crosspool backlash on a lovely spring morning in this league cup semi-final. We were relentless right from the first whistle and never really let up throughout. It would be easy to say that the game was a bit of a mismatch but that would do a disservice to the determination and effort the lads showed today. It would take more than a couple of paragraphs to document all of the good things that were displayed and our roving reporter would end up having to miss Match of the Day if he tried. Plus, we probably learnt more last week than we did this and savoured our victory all the more after the taste of defeat. Considering we had Dylan out with an ankle injury, Taylor pulling up in the first 5 minutes and Max coming off injured midway through the first half, this was a very impressive squad performance. James and Noah had earnt themselves a starting place in the team after impressing in the previous games and both of them played fantastically well. James did everything that was asked of him - quick in the tackle, decisive in in the air and confident in support of Noah on the flank. Noah was an absolute menace down the left hand side, running at players, passing incisively and getting himself into the opposition area to good effect. Ed, coming on to replace Taylor in the middle, reacted brilliantly putting in a pulsating performance, pressing their midfield back into their own half with assistance from Joe. John, despite getting a bloody nose for his troubles, played the defensive midfield role to perfection. Will Day was excellent on the right and there was some excellent combination play down that side from both him and Will Gresh. Ben and Max were rocks at the back while Archie, with little in the way of goalkeeping to do, stayed alert and communicated well to those in front of him. The score at half-time was 4-0 after Noah opened our account in the 10th minute with a crisp finish and then Pierre added two before Noah added his 2nd.

We were even more impressive after the break adding so many goals that even the referee lost count! The official score was recorded as 12 but, when we added up all the scorers, we realised there were 13 goals. We're not going to quibble over one goal but we will make sure all the scorers are recorded here. So - Noah and Pierre added to their tallies to both claim a hatrick; Ben grabbed himself a brace (and could have had a hatrick if he'd looked across that pesky defensive line!); Alex Darke scored with a sweet strike; Will Gresh fired one into the corner after a lovely layoff from Pierre; Ed grabbed the goal his performance deserved after showing a clean pair of heels to his marker. And, last but by no means least, James rounded off a brilliant performance with his first goal for Crosspool making him the 16th different goalscorer for the Reds this season. That really is quite an achievement and shows what a team and what a squad we have. Well done James and well deserved. Lewis and Zac also played their part in this victory, showing what a strong squad we have. One other observation before moving onto the summary - just like last week we never stopped playing and this is really important. Not one player started showboating or trying to get themselves on the scoresheet at the expense of their team mates. They all carried on pressing, passing the ball quickly, working for each other and communicating across the pitch despite the scoreline. These are really good habits to have and ones that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.

So, we now have a final to look forward to and the lads really do deserve this after all their efforts this season. No medals or trophies have been handed out however and we really need to knuckle down over the next few weeks to make sure we get the silverware our season merits. It's now time to put the final on the back burner and concentrate on our six remaining league games, each of which will be cup finals in themselves. If anything, the squad was the man of the match today. But, it would be remiss not to mention some excellent performances from Noah, James, Pierre and Ben. The man of the match award though goes to Ed. His positive reaction to coming off the sub's bench should be an example to all of the squad and his pressing in midfield really did set the tone for the game. 

Crosspool Reds 2 Shelley Juniors 6

Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say you've been beaten by a good side. Shelley were as strong as we suspected they might be and won the game deservedly with a ruthless determination which we'd do well to learn from. We actually started the game well, on the front foot as we talked about in the team talk. We moved the ball quickly, looking to release Ed and Taylor on the wings and play Pierre in behind their back line. They were strong at the back though and while we looked good in possession we weren't really threatening their keeper. There were a couple of warning signs too as we gave their central midfielders the time to lift their heads and play balls over the top of our defence to their lightning quick striker. There was an obvious game plan and that was to absorb our early pressure and play on the counter. We really needed our defence to snuff out the sparks before any fires started but we were reacting to situations and against players of this ability there was always the danger of being punished. Sure enough, after some further probing we lost the ball in the middle and their midfielder knocked the ball over the top for their striker to finish comfortably. Their pace on the break was very impressive and to be fair to our lads wasn't something we'd come up against this season. They scored a further 2 in similar fashion and we looked to change things around by moving Ben into the centre of defence, Dylan into midfield and John further forward to try and press further up the pitch and anticipate better at the back. Zac came on at right back to replace Joe and slotted in well. The changes did have a positive effect with Dylan putting himself about in midfield and shielding the back four well. John and Will Gresh were now further up the pitch pressing the ball while Pierre, Taylor and Ed were also pressing well assisted on the overlap by Will and Zac. Shelley though showed their quality with a well worked fourth goal after another lightning quick break. We went into the break 4-0 down and looking a little shellshocked.

We spoke at half-time about being proud of our performance and making sure we held our heads up high. We switched to a 3-5-2 with Alex coming on up front to replace Will D. The lads reacted brilliantly, never giving up on the game and really giving their everything to try and get back in the game. We still weren't really threatening though and were struggling to create any clear cut chances against a very well organised Shelley back line. We were even more susceptible to the counter now with only three defenders but it was a chance we had to take. Ben, Max and Zac defended manfully though - Ben in particular showed real resilience and bravery. Archie too made some brave saves getting himself further off his line and beating their striker to the ball on a number of occasions.  However, Shelley breached our lines a further two times to make it 6-0 with their very impressive striker, fully recovered from his Shelley belly (!) scoring 4. The lads showed great character though and kept on plugging away, never giving up on the game despite the scoreline. Noah came onto replace Dylan with Taylor moving into the middle and we really started to get a grip in midfield. Lewis and James also came onto replace Zac and Pierre with Ed moving up front. We finally got the goal our efforts deserved following an excellent corner from Lewis with Max timing his run brilliantly to meet in the air and head home forcefully. Joe replaced Will Gresh on the right side of midfield and was unlucky not to score after a good run behind their defence and a nice bit of skill to go around their keeper only to see Alex's shot cleared off the line after squaring to him. We then scored a fantastic team goal passing the ball swiftly through the middle with the minimum of touches involving most of the team. Taylor got on the end of an Alex Darke cross to put in the back of the net only to hear the ref's whistle blow for offside. Very unlucky. Noah then got us a 2nd consolation goal after a shot from Taylor was parried by their keeper into his path. The score finished 6-2 seeing Shelley deservedly go into the semi-final and end a long and impressive cup run for the lads.

The most important thing about this game is the lessons we can take from it. We now know what sort of level we need to be at if we want to compete against the best teams in the county. We're not too far off but there are a few improvements we can make individually and as a team to make sure we get there. It's important that we all reflect and make those improvements over the next few games. It's also important that we keep our heads held high and make sure we bounce back next Sunday in another important cup game - the semi-final of the league cup. Great character showed by all of the squad today and it was pleasing to see all the lads get a run out. Ben deserved his man of the match award after a battling display at right back and then centre half against a very good player - well done Ben.

Hoyland CF 0 Crosspool Reds 2

Well, this one had everything you'd expect from an away fixture in Barnsley - late tackles, yellow cards, intimidation, moaning players, a put upon referee and touchline idiots. But these brave lads ignored all the histrionics and put in a real determined performance full of grit and desire to come away with three hard earned points. With one of our competitors slipping up, this made it all the sweeter and puts us firmly back in the driving seat in the league. The game started fairly tamely with us taking control without really threatening. It was cagey and pretty obvious what the Hoyland plan was - sit deep, frustrate and look to hit us on the break with a long ball over the top. This is something we've become accustomed to though and Max and Ben handled anything that came their way while Zac and Joe were able full back assistants. Noah looked fresh and worked the left flank well, showing excellent composure in possession and good skill going forward. Taylor worked the other flank although wasn't seeing enough of the ball for him to make his usual impact. Dylan, playing in a holding midfield role showed his quality on the ball, keeping possession well and breaking their play up when required. The two Wills were looking lively and creative on the ball but were dropping a bit too deep which gave their midfield the opportunities to knock the ball from deep over our back line. Pierre worked hard up front without getting a great deal of service as both defences kept the upper hand. This certainly wasn't one for the purists and it looked like we were going to have to force the door open rather than unpick the lock. We did try to play but we were doing it too deep and hitting the Hoyland defensive wall when we approached their area. Noah was unlucky not to get on the end of a good cross field ball from Will D and Will G was unlucky after the best move of the half saw him hit a first time shot into the keeper's midriff. Max also went close from a corner which their keeper saved well. Then, the breakthrough came when Dylan rose powerfully to head another wicked Will Gresh corner delivery. The ball hit the bar, ricocheted out, was directed towards their goal again, cleared, only for the determined Dylan to strike hard and low under their keeper. A great way to celebrate his thirteenth birthday! We pushed for a third and were unlucky with a pre-planned corner which Pierre almost fired home after Will G pulled the ball to the edge of the area. Taylor was also unlucky heading towards goal with their keeper tipping onto the bar. James and Lewis came on to replace Joe and Zac at the back and had no problem adjusting to the pace of the game. The ref blew the whistle for half-time with the game very much on a knife-edge.

We spoke at half-time about the need to press further up the pitch and get on the front foot. We also asked the lads to move the ball quicker but, to be fair to Hoyland, they took charge early on. Alex replaced Noah at left-mid and was called upon early in the half to make an important clearance. We were under the cosh and having to deal with an aggressive bombardment at the back. Max was immense, winning balls in the air, making challenges and organising brilliantly. Lewis, coming back from a nasty virus, looked like he'd never been away, showing his class on the ball and a great deal of determination in the tackle. We had a close call from a corner when Pierre forgot which box he was in and headed onto our near post with Archie diving and smothering the ball. Archie also had to be alert off his line coming out brilliantly and showing great maturity and composure. Dylan was everywhere, protecting the back four one minute and bursting into the box the next. Will Day gave us some much needed width on the right and was looking to get us back on the front foot with some great runs down the wing. Alex, on the left, was pressing really well and driving the rest of the midfield on to push Hoyland back towards their goal. After the initial 10 minute storm we regained a hold on the game and Hoyland began to show some frustration putting in some late tackles and arguing with the ref. They weren't really helped by some ridiculous comments and claims from a small minority of spectators so it was a good feeling when Taylor sweeped the ball majestically from left to right for Noah to find himself in on goal. His shot was saved by the keeper but Pierre was on hand to fire home a well deserved goal. This riled the opposition even more and tackles started flying in. Joe came on in the middle to enjoy the battle and gave the Hoyland lads a lesson in midfield determination while keeping his head and playing within the rules of the game. Taylor joined in the fun while Ben and Max were resolute at the back. Zac came on to great effect at right back playing calmly and effectively and doing a great job for the team. There were a few more scares and almost a Johnny Metgod free kick from Max (Google it lads!) which their keeper did well to tip over the bar. It was a long 35 minutes but the whistle finally blew with us taking the 3 points in a decidedly feisty affair.

A fantastic result for the plucky Crosspool Reds and one that was well deserved. It wasn't pretty but it was a really determined performance that bodes well for the remainder of the season. These are the sort of games that win you titles and nobody in this league is going to lie down and let us win so it was really pleasing to see us win in this gritty manner. The whole squad played a part in the result but three players in particular deserve special mention. Max and Ben were superb at the back, barely putting a foot wrong and forming a solid defensive pairing which was rarely breached. Dylan though, just edged them out for the man of the match award, playing in a slightly unfamiliar role but showing what an excellent footballer he is as well as a defender. His goal was well deserved and he almost grabbed another but it was his drive and determination that shone through in his performance. Well done D (and Happy Birthday!)  

Crosspool 4 Hoyland CF 1

A late kick off against Barnsley opposition in extremely windy conditions which levelled the game a bit, making it difficult to pass the ball over any great distance. We could have played a bit shorter but struggled to adjust for the first 5 minutes or so. We kicked with the wind first half hoping to get a lead which we could build on. The two Wills started well in the middle, making good use of the ball and feeding Taylor on the left. James was also making good inroads down the left hand side where most of our play was concentrated. Pierre, in an unfamiliar role on the right, didn't see a lot of play but was always a threat with his pace. Defending was difficult in the swirling wind but Ben, Max and Dylan coped well. Archie did well off his line to prevent their striker from having an easy shot on goal when he was put through. John didn't look his usual self, not moving quite as comfortably as he usually does although he did break their play up well. Alex, playing in a deep forward role, looked lively and we got our breakthrough after a sweet through ball from him. It was an excellent counter attack. Will D played a neat ball into Alex who had cleverly positioned himself between the lines of midfield and attack on the half turn. Alex spotted Taylor's lung busting run and played him in on the left. Taylor lifted his head and put a lovely ball into the box for Will Gresh to run onto. There was only going to be one outcome as Will lifted his right foot back and fired into the net. We were now looking to play the ball shorter through the midfield and both Wills showed great game intelligence and bravery on the ball, picking the ball up deep and trusting in their abilities to play under pressure. We were winning a few corners and our 2nd goal came from one on the left which Will G delivered to the near post for Max (yes, Max!) to touch over the line. It looked like nobody really believed the ball had crossed the line but the referee confirmed the goal and confirmed Max's 1st goal of the season!  Ed came on at left back to replace James and immediately got himself involved going forward, with Pierre and Taylor switching wings. We pushed for a third and were unlucky on a couple of occasions with Alex working hard to get himself on the scoresheet. He took a kick to his calf for his troubles but bravely played on through the pain to the half-time whistle.

At half-time Joe came on for Alex who had succumbed to his knock. John also complained of back pain after a heavy day of badminton the day before. Zac came on to replace John, slotting into right back with Ben moving into midfield. We were against the wind now which seemed to be getting higher. Hoyland showed great spirit, trying to make the most of the conditions and pinning us back in our own half. We still looked dangerous on the break though and Ed threatened on the left hand side despite being pinned in by the conditions. Archie made an excellent save from their striker when he was clean through on goal and they were unlucky with a shot that hit the outside of the post. This was an important part of the game and we were struggling to impose ourselves despite our lead. Hoyland won a free kick on the left hand side of the area and their midfielder struck it high, past our wall and into the top corner - 2-1. Their tails were up and we really had to show some grit to get back in the game. Joe, coming back from injury, tweaked his hip so James came on to replace him. The bench was now looking like an episode of Casualty with three sorry looking lads nursing their injuries! This did give Will D the opportunity to move back into the middle of the park along with Dylan. Ben moved back into central defence to partner Max. Taylor and Ed also switched wings - Taylor moving to the left for the 'graveyard shift' (the wind really was making things difficult on that side). The switches seemed to have the desired effect as we regained control in the middle. We hit Hoyland with a sucker punch after Will D played in Ed who raced past their full back and finished to the keeper's right. This knocked the wind out of the opposition but we still had to finish the job. That man, Ed Willis, made sure of it with another ruthless finish following some good work from Pierre and another good through ball from Will. He still had a bit to do but had the presence of mind to lift the bouncing ball over the keeper's head as he advanced. We were dominating down the right hand side now with Zac combining well with Ed and Will G almost managing to free Pierre for a shot on goal. After looking a bit nervous in the early parts of the half we now looked comfortable - D was enjoying the game further up the pitch showing his creative abilities. Ben and Max also defended the long balls well, protecting Archie's goal from any further breaches. The final whistle sounded with Crosspool taking all 3 points.

So, we do it all again next week, this time in Barnsley. As we saw today, there are no easy games in this division and as we get to the business end of the season we will need to keep on with the right habits; playing in a calm, composed way, always believing in our ability. There were a few contenders for the man of the match award - both Ben and Dylan had good games in different positions, quietly effective in whatever they did. Ed got the vote though, playing in a few different positions and then winning the game for us from the right with two excellent runs and finishes - well deserved!

 

Crosspool 7 Rother Valley 2 

Our 8th League win of the season in difficult conditions with our usually reliable pitch showing the effects of a long and wet winter. We started a bit sloppily, maybe feeling the effects of an extended warm-up(!) but soon got into the game with John and Will Day starting to take control in the middle. The opposition were in no mood to roll over though and were doing everything they could to make things difficult for us. Alex got himself into some good positions between their defence and midfield and was using the ball well, feeding Ed and Noah down the flanks. James and Lewis were both defending resolutely and getting forward to join the attacks. Pierre worked hard up front and he eventually got the reward for his efforts after John switched the play brilliantly from left to right, finding Noah who teed Pierre up for him to power home. Their keeper made some good saves as we peppered their goal with more shots. Ed put in some great crosses from the left which we couldn't quite get on the end of. We were relatively untroubled at the back but whenever they did threaten, Max and Ben snuffed out any danger. Pierre added our 2nd with another pile-driver from 12 yards out. Taylor and Will Gresh came on to replace Noah and Ed and there was almost an immediate impact. Gresh delivered another one of his wicked corners which somehow managed to evade the Crosspool players in the box. Will Day was back to his impressive best here and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet with a shot from outside the box which hit the bar. Pierre,  though, showed his instinct for goal, following Will's shot in, and managed to bundle the ball over the line - probably the easiest of his goals but the most pleasing considering his reaction speed and reading of the situation. Rother Valley were once again on the end of another Pinnock hatrick - his 5th of the season emphasising what a valuable addition he's been this season. The ref blew his whistle for half-time with the score at 3-0.

Dylan came on for John, who had played superbly in the first half, conducting the game with a calm authority. Ben moved into midfield with Taylor while D slotted in at the back next to Max. We started the 2nd half well, pressing the opposition back into their own half and dominating the ball. Their keeper again made some good saves but he had no chance with a lovely strike from Alex which sailed into the top right corner. Taylor and Ben were following on from John's example in the middle, moving the ball around the pitch with a classy assurance. Will Gresh was dangerous down the right putting in some lovely balls and his reverse pass to Alex, who had found himself a pocket of space in the box was exquisite. Alex still had a bit to do but, once again, finished superbly, this time in the opposite corner. At 5-0, and with the manager concerned that he may have to put his hand in his pocket to buy post match drinks for the lads if their 3 pre-match challenges were met (score from a corner, don't concede from a corner and keep a clean sheet), Max and Pierre were given a rest with Noah coming on at right-back and Ed up front. Without Max's presence we were beginning to look vulnerable to the long ball over the top but Dylan showed what a great defender he is, recovering to make a perfectly timed challenge on their striker as he bore down on goal. They were awarded a free kick about 30 yards out which didn't look to present much danger but their midfielder had different ideas and smashed it over the wall and into the roof of the net over Archie's despairing glove. We then gave away a sloppy goal straight from our kick off and Rother Valley had their tails up. It was now time for us to show our character without three of our more physical players on the pitch and, to be fair, the lads reacted brilliantly, working together to pressure the ball and make sure the opposition did not get another sniff in this game. Dylan and Lewis stepped up to the challenge at the back, attacking the ball in the air to prevent any balls over the top. Alex was unlucky not to add a deserved third after rounding the keeper and just taking it too far. Will Day got on the end of an excellent move and finished with a simple tap-in. And Ed, after avoiding taking a shot with his right foot on the previous 2 occasions, eventually relented and finished with his right for his 11th of the season. Taylor was unlucky not to add an 8th and Max almost got himself on the score-sheet after some good work from Noah on the right (Max is obviously waiting to break his duck when it really matters!) The game finished 7-2 rounding off a good team performance as we move into the key stage of the season.

Lots to be pleased about from the lads - a great performance at the back from James who defended well and worked hard to get involved further up the pitch, Alex looked to enjoy himself up front and bagged himself an impressive brace, Will D excelled in the middle of the park and looked assured when moved to the left. The 'men' of the match though (we couldn't separate them) were Pierre and John. Pierre with a really impressive strikers display which had power, pace, skill and hard work. He's really getting on the front foot now and leading from the front. And John didn't put a foot wrong all game, really impressing in the middle of the park, making the difficult things look easy and the complicated simple. Well done to both.

Crosspool 7 Wath Stars 4 

Our fourth game in the County FA Cup saw us up against the unbeaten Wath Stars from Division C Blue. After a long lay off we could have been forgiven for being a bit rusty but Ed came flying out of the traps and gave us the lead with a wicked cross into the six yard box that their defender turned into his own net. Will Day looked sharp, playing further up the pitch, always on the half-turn and showing great awareness of the players around him. Just behind him, Will Gresh was stroking the ball around the pitch involved in everything good that we did. Alex, playing on the right, played a lovely little reverse pass to find Taylor down the flank who was unlucky not to convert. Wath came back at us though and one of their two strikers found some space on the left hand side of the box, hitting a hopeful shot that floated over Archie and into the net. This gave them a lift and their diminutive midfielder began to get on the ball, looking to release their strikers over the top. John, once again, showed his authority in midfield taking the game by the scruff of the neck and getting us back on the front foot. Dylan and Max were also winning their battles, ably assisted by Ben and James at the back. A free kick in the middle of the park saw the Wath players line up on the edge of the box awaiting a delivery into the box. Will Gresh and Alex played it short, passing to and forth and drawing the Wath players towards them. The trap was sprung and a lovely ball into Will Day's feet saw him turn in exactly the position where he'd been asked to get himself into, lift his head and stroke the ball impecabbly into the bottom right corner. Noah and Pierre replaced James and Alex with Will G moving to left-back and Pierre playing on the right side of the three. We should have scored a third after a fantastic corner delivery from Will G which Max and Pierre somehow failed to connect with on the back post (we still await Max's first goal in a red shirt!). Taylor tried one from long range which sailed narrowly over the bar. He made sure with his next chance though, striking a sweet left footer into the corner after another well worked free kick. Pierre added a fourth soon after with a trademark unstoppable finish after being played in by Taylor following some good work by John and Noah. The half-time whistle went with the score at 4-1 and Crosspool well in control of the tie.

Lewis and Zac came on at half-time to replace Dylan and Will D. After stressing the importance of killing the game off early and making sure we didn't give the opposition any opportunities to get back in the game, our generosity once again got the better of us with some poor defending from a corner which their player headed in from 2 yards out. Pierre restored the 3 goal difference though with some more powerful play and another excellent finish, after a fantastic through ball from Will Gresh. To their credit Wath didn't let their heads drop and we rewarded their persistence with another soft goal after some more naive defending. Poor old Archie had conceded 3 goals without really having a save to make. His handling had been excellent throughout in windy conditions as was his decisive distribution with both his hands and feet. Zac and Lewis were getting some joy down the right hand side and Taylor, John and Noah were bossing the middle with their players (and some of their spectators) starting to show some frustration at their inability to "stop us playing football!" We were knocking it round well now as they began to tire and Pierre bagged another hatrick after another wonderful assist from Will G, this time with a first time left foot cross. A long range shot from one of the Wath midfielders, assisted by the wind, floated over Archie and into the net given them their fourth against the run of play. Will G rounded off a great all round performance with a real classy finish curling his shot from the edge of the area into the top corner of the net. Alex and Noah both tried to add their names to the scoresheet but pulled their shots just wide and the final whistle sounded with the score finishing 7-4.

So, the main point is, we got the win and are now through to the last eight of the CFA Cup (no mean achievement considering there were 141 teams in the 1st round draw). We'll have to improve our defending though if we want to progress to the semi-finals as there are some good teams awaiting us in the draw. Maybe we can put it down to rustiness and maybe we should give the opposition a bit more credit but this was the most we've conceded this season so some work to do on the training ground. Some excellent performances though - Ben had a good game at the back, Will Day played well in the false-9 role in the first half, Ed gave us real threat on the left and another well taken hatrick for Pierre. Man of the match goes to Will Gresh though who showed the full range of his abilities today - passing, defending, assisting, scoring - this performance had the lot. 

Crosspool 12 Staveley Miners 2 

After a week off due to a waterlogged pitch we got back to winning ways in the County FA Cup. To be honest, the scoreline was a little unfair on our Division C opponents, Staveley. They put up a real fight in the first half, with their striker causing us some problems at the back. The scoreline at half-time saw us 2-1 up with Ed and Taylor scoring our goals. The half-time team talk didn't contain much in the way of festive cheer, with a warning that we could be about to go out of the cup if we didn't buck our ideas up. We stepped it up in the 2nd half though, taking control of the midfield and playing some nice fast flowing football which the opposition struggled to cope with. We did though carry on with our seasonal generosity at the back with another giftwrapped chance for their striker who took it gleefully. Pierre thankfully restored our lead soon after though with a powerful finish. Ed added another soon after and the Staveley heads began to drop as we raised our game and began to show our quality. The game eventually became a bit of a rout with some impressive finishing from the lads and some unfamiliar names on the scoresheet. Ed finished up with 4 goals to his name. Pierre bagged himself another hatrick. Will G continued his impressive run, scoring again. And John, Dylan and Ben found themselves on the scoresheet for the first time this season - about time too! Just Max and James to go now.

So, as we break for Christmas we still find ourselves in both cups and at the top of the league table. Not bad but we need to push on in the New Year if we want to enjoy success at the end of the season. The man of the match award goes to Ed who worked hard throughout and took his chances well. Pierre also did well when he came on at half-time and Will G impressed in the middle. 

Crosspool 2 Chesterfield 3 

So now we now what it feels like. And now we know that we don't want to feel like that again. For the first time this season we tasted defeat and while we could have reason to feel a bit sorry for ourselves there are a few lessons we need to learn from this result. We started well enough with Taylor winning the toss and choosing to kick the way of a blustery wind. But, against the run of play, Chesterfield broke down the right hand side and their forward found himself in acres of space bearing down on Archie. Archie tried to make himself as big as he could but the striker kept his composure and finished well. We didn't let this affect us though, carrying on playing good football and pegging Chesterfield back in their own half. We were getting into some good positions but the final ball was lacking on a number of occasions. John, Joe and Taylor were dominant in the middle but we weren't getting the ball wide to Will Day and Noah often enough. Will Day pulled up with a hip injury and was replaced by Ben with Ed moving further forward. Our equaliser came through an absolute screamer from Will Gresh, playing at right back, who showed the way for the rest of the lads by striking the ball sweetly first time, the ball sailing into the top corner. With this lesson on shooting from Will it was hoped that we'd start following his lead but at times we were a bit shot-shy, looking for the perfect opportunity to strike rather than making their keeper work. We were really dominating now though, both at the back where Dylan was winning his headers and Max mopping up behind him while Ben and Will G were joining in the attacks down the flanks. Ed was causing problems for them down the left-hand side and was unlucky not to score after a cross from Noah which their defender somehow managed to clear for a corner. A short free kick saw Pierre turn in the box and strike one for their keeper to save well. Pierre was also unlucky to see a goal disallowed after the referee judged him to have pushed the defender when it looked more like he outmuscled him. Another good move through the middle resulted in Joe shooting at goal from the edge of the area only for him to pull wide. We were well on top as Chesterfield struggled to get out of their half and it was no surprise when Pierre pounced on a cross from the byline by Ed to stroke home our 2nd. We needed to capitalise on our position in the game and we kept on pushing but, once again, the final ball let us down along with a reluctance to shoot. Alex came on to replace Noah on the right and see if his guile could create us a goal. The half-time whistle blew though with the score at 2-1 and Chesterfield looking thankful for the break.

We knew the 2nd half would be different with us now kicking into a strong wind and Chesterfield having to chase the game. And, as expected, they did come at us. We weren't pegged back in the same way that our opponents were in the 1st half but we did struggle to get the ball over our half way line and when we did it wasn't sticking long enough for us to get at their defence. We never really looked in any danger though with Max and Dylan their usual commanding selves at the back and Archie sweeping any danger behind them. James came on for Dylan at left back with Ben moving to partner Max at centre-half and we still looked fairly solid. Alex tried to tee Pierre up with a lovely curled ball around the back of their defence which Pierre wasn't quite alive to. Then, after what looked a foul throw by the opposition, a loss of concentration saw us give a corner away. Considering the strength of the wind, the Chesterfield corner taker did well to deliver the ball into the box but we really should have cleared our lines. We failed to do so though and were duly punished by the opposition - 2-2. We weren't happy with a point so switched to 4-2-2 with Ed joining Pierre up front and Taylor switching to the right. The goal seemed to have jolted us back into action and we started to exert some more pressure on the Chesterfield line. Ed was unlucky with a shot which just drifted wide and their keeper saved well from Joe down to his right. Taylor was giving their winger a hard time down the right but we weren't getting the ball to him enough. We were pushing for the winner and looked the more likely to score although frustration was getting the better of us at times. Will G put in a wicked delivery on a free kick which was begging to be nodded towards goal but none of the Crosspool players attacked the ball. He also floated in a lovely corner from the right which again we didn't get on the end of. Chesterfield were now also looking for the winner and with our midfield a man lighter they were getting a bit more space. Their big central midfielder shot from long range with Archie beaten and we were glad to see it sail just wide of the upright. Then Archie made a fantastic double save from their striker as he was played through on goal with only the keeper to beat. James mopped up afterwards to make a brave saving tackle. Was this to be the important moment of the game? Unfortunately not as this came in the final minute when Chesterfield won a 2nd corner after we failed to clear our lines from the first. Once again, another wicked delivery came in and their forward attacked it, crashing it home into our net. There was little time left but we replaced Joe with Noah, who went to right back, moving Will G further forward to see if he could score us another wonder goal. It wasn't to be though as the final whistle sounded soon after the goal putting Chesterfield in the driving seat for the league. 

A disappointing result but we can take some positives with the negatives. We were the better side against another of our close rivals for the league. We dominated for most of the game only really losing our grip when we chased the 3 points. We do need to make sure our dominance pays off in games and become a bit more ruthless in front of goal. We also need to improve on both our attacking and defending of set-pieces. The big difference in the game was that Chesterfield scored from 2 of their few set-pieces while we failed to score from any of our many. Something to work on in training Tuesday night so we can improve and start on another winning run. Max was awarded man of the match for his dominant display at the back. Will G, Ed and Joe also impressed.  

Crosspool 5 Sheffield Rangers 1 

After the previous two weeks of excitement this was a fairly straightforward win in difficult conditions. It was no classic but we did enough to win the game without hitting the heights of our previous performances. We started well enough, using the width of the pitch well and causing them problems, particularly down the left with Ed and James combining well. We were struggling though to deliver the right quality of ball into the box with the wind making accurate crosses difficult. We were camped in the Rangers' half with the midfield trio of John, Will G and Noah dominating possession. Zac worked hard up front, closing down their defenders and linking well with Taylor on the right. Alex and Noah switched roles with Noah moving to right back. Max, Dylan and Archie had little to do as we turned the screw further up the pitch. The breakthrough came after more good work from James down the right. An incisive through ball to Ed was crossed perfectly to the back post for Taylor to meet with his head and nod into an empty net. A close penalty call came soon after which didn't go our way and Zac had the ball in the back of the net only for the referee to blow for offside. Pierre and Ben came on for Zac and Noah and got themselves involved straightaway. There was a slight scare when the Rangers midfielder hit a good shot from long range which looped over Archie only to come back off the bar. Lewis came on to replace Will Gresh in midfield after he took a knock to the ribs with Taylor switching to the middle. 

The second half saw us playing against the wind and this seemed to suit us a little better with the ball holding up a bit. We moved to a 4-4-2 with Ed partnering Pierre up front and this soon proved to be a good move after Ed nodded the second headed goal of the game into the Rangers net. Pierre wasn't to be outdone though and added another two goals to his season's tally after good combination play with the midfield. Will Gresh made it 5-1 with a well-taken free kick which their keeper found too hot to handle. Lewis was causing problems for them on the right with some quality deliveries into the box that we should have done more with. We were looking on track for a clean sheet but, after Lewis intercepted well, the ball ran loose to Archie who picked it up with the referee judging it a pass back. Their indirect free kick was knocked to the side and struck well into the roof of the net to make the final score 5-1.

Not the greatest performance but the all important three points were taken which sets us up nicely for a top of the table clash against Chesterfield next week. It was difficult to choose a man of the match today with James having an excellent first half but asking to come off at half-time through illness. Ben played well at the back looking sharp and hungry and Pierre also impressed. Ed just edged it though with another tireless performance and a well headed goal.

 

Crosspool 3 Ardsley Athletico 2 

Your roving reporter had to go and have a lie down in a darkened room after this one. And even after that he still can't come up with the superlatives to describe today's performance. Character, grit, determination, patience, maturity, composure, character, character and more character. There's the match report done anyway!

Seriously, a fantastic comeback after going two goals down in the first ten minutes. The less said about that the better but let's just say the Christmas tree formation didn't work, looking more like a plum tree at times. Maybe someone needs to stop overthinking these things! But, once we'd sorted the formation we started to get into the game. John came on to replace Noah who was unfortunate as he'd not done anything wrong but had to make way for us to change the formation. As a natural protector John started to give the midfield a bit of bite and we were winning our battles with Will Gresh and Joe providing an excellent foil to John's abilities. We also began to sort ourselves at the back after a period of hesitancy which saw us begin to attack the ball through Dylan and Max. Ed pushed as hard as he could up the left with Taylor but their right back was a good player and defended well. We did put some good balls in but couldn't get on the end of them. Pierre was being man marked by another decent player and struggled to break off the shackles despite his best efforts. Ben was beginning to get forward down the right and combine with Will Day who did his best to break the Ardsley lines. A pattern was established where we probed patiently and they got men behind the ball looking to hit us on the break. Their forward made some clever arced runs which beat our offside trap on a couple of occasions. Archie made a vital save from him after another dangerous ball saw him through on goal again - this was a real turning point as 3-0 could have been a bridge too far (although knowing these lads - it probably wouldn't have been!). We kept knocking at the door and Joe was unlucky not to connect with a wicked cross from the left that Will Gresh delivered from a set-piece. Will G was everywhere now really showcasing his abilities and his hard work paid off on the stroke of half-time after another perfect cross from the right gave Pierre a chance to head at goal. Pierre still had a lot to do but headed brilliantly past the keeper to make the score 2-1. Like all good goalscorers - you can keep him quiet but give him a chance and he'll punish you. 

We broke for half-time giving us the chance to reorganise. Zac came on to replace D with Ben switching to centre-half and Zac going to right back. We started as we'd finished, pegging Ardsley back in their half and really turning the screw. Some of our football through the thirds was immaculate - John, Joe and the two Wills playing beyond their years moving the ball around brilliantly. The back four looked really solid - Ed was having a fantastic game, defending brilliantly and pushing on to help Taylor in front of him. Will Day, struggling with a sore knee, made way for Alex with Taylor switching into the middle and Alex playing on the left. Alex was straight into it combining well with his other midfielders and pressing their defender giving him some different things to think about. The equaliser looked like it was coming but we still had to be aware of the opposition on the break - Ben and Max were alert though and flushed out any danger with Archie on his toes. Zac started a good move down the right with a crisp delivery into Pierre who held the ball up brilliantly, laying into Joe's path. Joe struck it with his left foot from outside the area and the crowd held it's breath as the ball sailed into the top corner over their keeper's outstretched arm - a great goal! We really were in the ascendancy now and a great shout from the assistant management team almost paid dividends straight away, with Taylor switching to the right he sailed past their right back who looked like he'd just been caught in a whirlwind. But the ball sailed agonisingly wide from Taylor's shot. Noah came on to replace Joe who looked like he still hadn't got over the shock of scoring with his left foot. Noah gave us some much needed legs in the middle combining brilliantly with Taylor. The breakthrough finally came from the right hand side with Taylor making another devastating run past their full back to provide a chance for Pierre. Again the big man had a lot to do and turned brilliantly before rifling his shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net - another great goal! Ardsley were looking a bit ragged now and our possession throughout the game was starting to tell. Their tackles were getting more desperate as they fought for their lives to get back in the game. But we stood firm with John, once again, tackling anything that moved with Max, Ed, Ben and Zac snuffing out any danger at the back. The whistle finally went and signalled another well-earned victory for the Crosspool Reds.

The lads were truly inspirational today and deserved the three points in what was a great advert for grassroots football. Every single one of them played their part and all deserve the man of the match award. Special mention to John who came on and made a positive impact on the game. Also, Ed who played out of his skin and did a real job for his mates. Taylor worked his socks off and was still pressing the ball in the last minute of the game. But the award goes to Will Gresh who put in an imperious performance in the middle, choosing the right options all the time and showing what a valuable addition he is to the squad. Well done Will! 

Crosspool 3 Nether Green 2 

This was a real battle against our local rivals in the league cup and it went right to the wire. In windy and wet conditions, what this local derby lacked in quality, it more than made up for in excitement. We started the game well, passing through the thirds with purpose. But we soon became embroiled in the derby atmosphere and Nether Green began to get in the game with some dangerous breaks. Against the wind we were finding it difficult to take control of the game and were sometimes guilty of trying to play the killer ball through the middle rather than using our flanks. When we did get it wide Noah and Taylor put some dangerous crosses in but the Nether Green defence were well organised and managed to snuff out any danger. Their keeper's kicks, carried by the wind, caused us a few problems and we looked a little nervous at the back. They had a goal overruled for offside and this seemed to give them the bit between their teeth. Will G and Joe worked hard in front of the back four but the opposition probed, finding gaps and feeding the ball through to their forward line. Ed and Ben had their hands full down the wings while Dylan and Max had to be at their best to repel any danger. We did manage to break through the Nether Green lines on a few occasions though with Joe finding himself through on goal only to skew his shot wide and Will D unlucky with a left foot shot across the goal. Pierre worked hard up front and looked dangerous but he was well shackled by their defenders. We gave away a sloppy corner and were punished when we failed to clear the ball with their forward pouncing on it to give them the lead. This seemed to spur us on though and their keeper made a good save from Pierre. Zac came on to replace Ben at right back and started well. looking composed on the ball. We broke through again, this time Will Gresh firing a shot at goal which their keeper again parried but Pierre followed in and bundled the ball over the line to equalise. The pendulum swung again though and Nether Green broke on our left-hand side with their winger putting a dangerous ball into the area which was sidefooted into the net by the onrushing striker - 2-1. Once again though, we showed what we are about, lifting our game and pushing our opponents back. Will Gresh played a fantastic slide rule pass through their defence which Noah raced on to and finished calmly into the bottom left hand corner. With the score at 2-2 the half-time whistle went and gave us all a chance to catch our breath.

We spoke at half-time about the need to get the ball moving quicker and keep calm on the ball. We also switched to a 4-3-3 with Alex, Lewis and James coming on to replace Dylan, Joe and Noah. Once again we started well and it looked like we had regained our composure. However, to Nether Green's credit, they worked themselves back into the game. Ed was looking sharp on the left-hand side, working tirelessly for the side while Zac made some dangerous runs on the right supported by Alex. James and Will Gresh, playing at left and right full back gave us some solidity with their wingers quiet while Lewis and Max were in control at the back. Archie had to be on his toes though and made an important save as well as racing off his line to force their forward into a rushed shot when he looked likely to score. Their keeper was also in action at the other end and saved well from Ed and Pierre. Taylor was beginning to get a grip in midfield and reinforcements came with Ben replacing Will D. We were beginning to turn the screw and Ed made a determined run down the left riding challenge after challenge to eventually force a corner. We won a dangerous free-kick just outside the area which Lewis attempted to float into the net only for their keeper to save. As the game wore on the tension started to creep into both sides play. Max was winning everything at the back and getting us back on the front foot with quality passes forward. Alex almost played Pierre in but the ball just overran to their keeper. With extra time looming we  won a corner on the right hand side which was eventually cleared for another corner on the left. Will Gresh stepped up to take it and whipped a fantastic ball right into the danger area. Max looked certain to score but the ball floated just over him. But, cometh the hour, cometh Ed Willis. He rose above everyone and met the ball perfectly with his head directing it over their keeper and into the roof of the net. We'd taken the lead for the first time in the game and we had just a few minutes to see it out. Dylan came on to give a bit of protection in the midfield and we kept the ball really well in the final minutes to eventually see the game out and book ourselves a place in the semi-final against Wickersley.

A proper cup tie with the lads showing real desire and character throughout. Nether Green will feel hard done by as they really didn't deserve to lose the game after a committed and passionate performance. Unfortunately there had to be a loser. Fortunately it wasn't us! Cup finals may take place on sunny spring afternoons but we can hopefully look back at this November humdinger at the end of the season and see it as an important victory. The whole squad performed fantastically today and showed a real will to win. Once again the coach will be having sleepless nights trying to pick his side for the top of the table clash next Sunday. Ed had a great game today, getting the all important winner and working his socks off in three different positions. He was just pipped to the post though by our rock at the back - Max - who won his battles and defended resolutely throughout. Well done Max!

North Gawber 2 Crosspool 7 

We turned our attentions to the County FA Cup today in a tough away fixture against a team from the Huddersfield League, North Gawber. After an impeccably observed minute's silence for Rememberance Day and a minute's applause for the Gawber club chairman who recently passed away, the game kicked off with both sides looking to get on the front foot. As suspected, Gawber looked a decent outfit and were dangerous up front with their forwards quick and strong, particularly down the right. Lewis, Zac, Max and Dylan had some work to do at the back with Ben and Joe doing their best to assist. As the game went on we started to play ourselves into it with Pierre working hard up front and Ed, Will and Taylor causing problems further forward. Their keeper made two good saves from long range shots and at the other end Archie proved his worth racing off the line to deny their centre forward with two brave tackles. We were getting on top now and playing some nice stuff in their half. Zac was combining well with Taylor on the right and our first goal came after a move on that side which saw Pierre power the ball into the net before their keeper had time to react. They still came though and Max made a perfectly timed tackle to deny their centre forward again when through on goal. Ed and Taylor were now pinning their full backs and we began to squeeze the opposition back into their own half. Joe was putting himself about in the middle of the park and playing some lovely passes into the lads in front. We were really unlucky with another slick move down the right hand side which Ed couldn't quite direct towards goal with his head. Pierre, who was having a great game, holding the ball up well and working the line single-handedly, gave us the cushion of a 2nd goal with another unstoppable shot after some good work from Will in the middle. Will Gresham, making his debut, came on to replace Lewis with Ben moving to right back and Will G playing alongside Joe. He made an instant impact, getting on the ball and passing to his team mates like he'd been playing with them for years! We were now in control of the game and really turning the screw - our third came after some excellent team pressing and a refusal to allow the opposition time and space on the ball. Will D found himself free on the edge of the box and made no mistake with his finish into the bottom right hand corner. The half-time whistle came with us leading 3-0 after an excellent first-half performance.

We spoke at half-time about the job not being complete and ensuring we kept up the tempo and pressing of the ball. Noah came on for Will D with Taylor moving into the middle of the park and Noah playing right side. James came on to replace Zac at left-back. We started the second half in the same vein, moving the ball around the pitch quickly and causing them problems on the flanks. Their keeper made a good save from Noah and another from Pierre but as the half wore on we lost our shape a little which saw us leave some gaps at the back. We were duly punished by their attacker who exploited the space between Ben and Max to finish well across Archie. We reacted well though and soon extended our lead to three goals with debutant Will G, smashing a half-volley through a crowded box and into the net - 4-1. Alex came on for Pierre up front with the instruction to hold the ball up and combine with the midfield which he did to good effect. James looked comfortable at the back, winning the ball and distributing it well. The next bit of action was a truly special goal from our captain, Taylor. Once again we were pressing the opposition in their half with Gawber trying to play their way out of trouble in the middle. The ball ran loose on the edge of the centre circle for what looked like a 50-50 between Taylor and their centre midfielder. Taylor had different ideas though and lofted the ball first time from around 50 yards over their keeper and into the net. An absolute beauty. We switched off again though and allowed their forward to grab a 2nd goal which Archie was none to pleased with his defenders about. With a flea in their ear they did tighten things up and Dylan made a brave tackle to deny their striker, taking a knock on the calf for his troubles. Lewis, who came on to give Ed a well deserved rest on the left-hand side, added a sixth goal soon after, following in on Alex's shot which their keeper did well to parry. Pierre, after nagging the manager into submission, came on in midfield to replace Taylor and duly added the 7th goal to complete his hatrick. The final whistle went with the score at 7-2 and Crosspool into the next round of the cup.

All in all an excellent performance although small improvements can be made. It was difficult to pick a man of the match in this game with Joe doing well in midfield and Taylor excellent on the flanks and then centrally, scoring what has to be the goal of the season. An excellent debut game from Will G who looks like he'll be a great addition to the squad. However, the award goes to Pierre who did more than just score three goals - he worked hard, held up the ball well and pressed from the front setting the tone for the rest of the team. Well done Pierre

Rother Valley 1 Crosspool 4 

A dominant display from the Crosspool Reds today seeing us take the 3 points and keep our place at the top of the table prior to turning our attention to the cup competitions. The game started in misty conditions but on a decent pitch which suited our passing game. We soon started to dominate in midfield with John, Will and Joe taking control and feeding Noah and Taylor on the flanks. John set the tone with his determination to win the ball and ensure it was circulated with great precision and efficiency. Rother Valley found themselves pinned into their own half with their keeper realising early on that he was in for a busy day. We created a number of chances to shoot from outside the box but never managed to work anything nearer to goal. Their keeper was up to most of our shots although he did spill a few that we couldn't quite manage to follow up on. Zac, playing at left full back, joined in the attacks on that side but also showed good awareness with his positioning. Lewis gave us an outlet on the right feeding Noah with some quality balls down the flank. Max and Dylan were largely untroubled due to the midfield stranglehold we had on our opposition while Archie enjoyed watching the spectacle in front of him as the mist cleared. The breakthrough came after some good work from Will who fed Pierre and, after a quick one-two with Joe, Pierre made a powerful connection with the ball to fire an unstoppable shot into the far left corner. Our lead was short-lived though as Rother Valley equalised after we played a loose ball from the back and their midfielder latched onto it lofting the ball from around 40 yards out over Archie's head. An excellent goal which gave Archie no chance. Ed came on to replace Joe with Taylor moving more centrally and this saw us step up the pressure. Ed made an immediate impact putting in some dangerous crosses which we couldn't quite get on the end of. Taylor also threatened from the middle and was directly involved in Pierre's 2nd goal after a good run and shot which the keeper parried only to see Pierre the poacher place the rebound in the net. With the sun now shining and Crosspool camped out in the opposition's half the ref blew for half-time with at 2-1.

The 2nd half saw Ben and Alex replace Lewis and Noah - Taylor moving out right and Alex slotting into midfield. Ben got involved immediately with his trademark forays down the right, combining well with Taylor to cause some real problems. We had spoken of the importance of the next goal and ensuring it was us who scored it but Rother Valley's defence were resolute and our final ball let us down on a number of occasions. Alex found himself some pockets of space in the middle of the park and was making some clever forward passes which put us on the front foot. Taylor was unlucky not to get himself on the score sheet after an excellent left-footed shot which their keeper did brilliantly to save to his right. It eventually fell to Pierre to put the game to bed after more good work from Ben down the right which Pierre followed in to score his hatrick. Joe came back on to give Pierre a well earned rest with Zac pushing into midfield and Will filling in at left-back. We lost our shape a little with the changes and Rother Valley, for the first time in the game, began to cause us problems at the back. Our periods of defensive inactivity seemed to have caused us to switch off a little but Dylan ensured his defensive compadres were made aware of the need to step things up. As the game got a bit more stretched gaps opened up in the Rother Valley defence. Ed, who looked desperate to get himself on the scoresheet, finished off a good team move to make it 4-1 after Taylor carried the ball, playing a lovely through ball to Lewis who had held his run well to stay onside and showed great awareness to feed Ed on the six yard box. The final score ended 4-1 and maybe could have been more if we had shown a little more composure in front of goal. However, no complaints about the performance levels and the amount of effort that all the lads put in throughout.

So, we can now turn our minds to the CFA and League cups over the next two weeks before resuming our league challenge against rivals Ardsley. There were some excellent performances today with special mention to Pierre for his hatrick, Taylor who showed great energy and skill on both flanks and through the middle. Will also had an excellent game showing great ability on the ball and good vision. The man of the match award though goes to John who returned to the side after a footballing trip with the school to train with Espanyol and watch Barcelona. This certainly paid off as he defended like Pique, passed like Xavi and dribbled like Messi (if he'd added the goals of Suarez it would have been the ultimate performance!)

Sheff Rangers 1 Crosspool 2 (League Cup) 

Another visit to Sheffield Rangers, this time in the League Cup with a few players missing. Once again, our opponents made life difficult for us on a small pitch which saw us struggle to get our passing game going. Rangers got men behind the ball and pressured our midfield, looking to hit us on the break with balls over the top. Our defensive line were busy but more than capable of dealing with the threat. Taylor and Joe protected the defence well, with Will and Zac giving us width on the flanks. Pierre and Alex worked hard up front, Alex coming into the hole to pick up the ball on the turn and Pierre stretching their back line with his pace and power. Max was imperious at the back with Dylan, Zac and Lewis ably assisting. When we got the ball wide, Will and Noah were a real threat, getting to the by line and putting dangerous crosses in. Our first goal was a good example of this with Noah breaking down the left after a good ball in from Lewis. Noah played the ball across the box and it fell kindly to Pierre who took his season's total to 6 with a cool finish. We should have added a second soon after following more good work down the wing from Will and an excellent cross which Pierre and Joe almost got on the end of. We kept the pressure on and worked some good short corners but failed to put in a good delivery. It was good to see Ben returning from injury as he came on at left back to replace Lewis. Rangers were dangerous on the break and Max had to make some good saving tackles while Archie had to be alert off his line on a couple of occasions. Will added a second around the 25 min mark with a shot from outside the area which the keeper tried to palm away but ended looping into the back of the net. The half-time whistle went with the score 2-0 to Crosspool.

We spoke at half-time about the need to start moving the ball quicker and wider. We also changed the shape slightly moving to a 4-3-3 with Pierre anchoring the midfield and trying to nullify the long ball threat, giving Max and Dylan a bit more protection. Noah and Taylor pushed up on the wings to give us a little more width with Ben and Zac swapping sides at the back. The 2nd half was even more scrappy than the first though and both sides huffed and puffed without really giving the spectators much to get excited about. There were a few flashes of brilliance but not much in the way of end product. Lewis came on up front for Alex who had picked up a knock on his toe and he was almost on the score sheet straight away after a good ball from the middle which he couldn't quite get on the end of. Zac was starting to get involved further up the pitch which saw us threaten down the left.. Noah's control was particularly impressive and he was unlucky with a run and shot after he had plucked the ball out of the air from a cross-field path. Joe was starting to look a bit tired and moved to left-back with Zac moving further forward. Dylan made some great tackles and was dominant in the air. We needed to kill the game off and almost did after Pierre played a lovely ball from deep which Lewis didn't quite convert. Our failure to kill the game gave Rangers some hope and for the first time in the game they managed to breach our defence. Max reacted first and tried to get another saving tackle in only to bring down their forward in the area -  penalty! Archie though stood his ground and made a great reaction save, tipping the ball onto the crossbar to gratefully see it drop back in front of him. This should have been the warning we needed but we gave Rangers another chance which this time they converted. with 5 minutes left Rangers pushed to take the game into extra-time but our midfield worked hard to protect and they never really broke our defensive lines again. The whistle signalled the end of the game and saw us through to the next round.

All in all a scrappy affair and by no means our most impressive performance. But we are in the quarter-finals where we will play our local rivals Nether Green at home. We defended well, with Dylan very impressive at centre-half. However, he was just edged out of the man of the match award by his partner in crime at the back. Max is improving with every game and had a really solid performance today, making important tackles, winning headers, communicating and playing out calmly from the back - a well deserved man of the match  

 

Crosspool 12 West End Bentley 0 (CFA Cup)

This was a bit of a mismatch, unfortunately, with our opponents from the Doncaster 2nd Division struggling to match us. To their credit they kept their heads up throughout the game despite the scoreline. Also, to the Crosspool lads credit, we showed West End a lot of respect during the whole match and this reflected well on them. A great example of winning well showing what a decent set of young lads we've got. It would have been very easy to try and showboat and get on the scoresheet but we played the game together as a team. To be honest, that was the major positive we took from the game as neither side gained much from what turned out to be a very one-sided affair. The Crosspool scorers were Alex with 4, Pierre 2, Joe 2, Noah 1, Will 1 and Zac 1. It was 11-0 wasn't it? Don't think there were any other scorers were there? No. Oh, hang on, almost forgot - Archie got one too! Should have had a hatrick if truth be told (as should a couple of others who we won't name and shame here - will we Pierre/Joe?!). Alex gets the man of the match award for his 4 goals - one of which was a pearler from outside the area. Other moments worth mention were Max's David Luis style run in the first half and then look of panic as he approached the opposition's penalty area! Crosspool scoring from a corner with a header and - believe it or not - Joe heading it in! Archie's goal celebration for which he was promptly subbed. Dylan almost getting on the scoresheet. James almost getting on the scoresheet. Alex playing centre half. Plus a couple of really well worked goals which started from the keeper, seeing us pass through the thirds and scoring without our opponents touching the ball. 

It was pleasing to see us approach the game in the right manner and winning the right way. Their manager spoke well of the lads from both a footballing and respect point of view after the game. So, on we march in the cup but we can expect a tougher game in the next round.

Crosspool 4 Ardsley 0

A few shock waves resonated around the football world today but none felt more sharply than the reverberations in Barnsley when undefeated Ardsley Athletico were put to the sword by the Crosspool Reds! To be honest the scoreline probably flattered us a bit but that's not taking anything away from an excellent performance by the lads with three important players missing and a few walking wounded on the pitch. The game started fairly evenly with both teams feeling each other out. Ardsley were creating most of the best chances and Archie had to be at his best to make a couple of excellent saves from their strikers. Pierre plowed a lone furrow up front but worked tirelessly for his team mates, working their back four and holding the ball up well. Zac slotted in at right back looking like he'd been playing there all his life - he must be the only lad that can play in a snood in 20 degree heat and come off the pitch at half-time looking like he's just nipped out for a machiatto!  Ed, despite struggling with his ankle, was his usual energetic self, keeping 3 or 4 players busy on the left. The Silverdale mafia at the back (Zac, D, Max and Lewis) were in control, holding their line well and, apart from the odd ball over the top, looking composed and calm under pressure. John and Joe sat in front, protecting the defence whilst threatening further forward by joining the attacks. Will showed his class in the middle while Noah worked the right wing giving their full back plenty to think about. Ardsley were no mugs though and their two strikers looked threatening. Once again Archie had to be on his toes and made an incredible save to his left, not only saving the ball but parrying to one side so their forward couldn't follow in. We threatened at the other end though and John was unlucky with a well struck shot that went straight into the keeper's arms. The breakthough came around the 20 minute mark after some fantastic pressing from Noah saw the ball drop to Pierre. Pierre's shot was parried but Ed was on it in a flash to put us 1-0 up. Ardsley came again and this time Archie saved to his right when a goal looked inevitable. A fantastic goalkeeping display from young Waterall which saw us go into the break in the lead.

The second half saw Alex replace Noah on the right. We started really well with a slick passing move from our centre which saw us move the ball around the pitch brilliantly. As in previous games, our fitness and possession game saw us start to get on top but Ardsley were still dangerous. The next goal was vital and it came after five minutes through the magnificent Mr Willis. A good through ball from Will saw Ed speed away from their back four and use his trusty left foot to place past their keeper. We now started to show our class on the ball with Alex combining well with Will, John and Joe in the middle. Lewis was excellent at left back carrying on from his performance against Hoyland and looking fit and strong as the game wore on. Our captain for the day, Max, put in a real captain's performance, organising at the back, and leading by example. He was ably assisted by Dylan and this centre-half partnership is really starting to look strong. Noah came on to replace Joe with Ed moving into the middle and Noah playing wide left. Our third came soon after with a ball played into the box by Noah and Pierre putting enough pressure on their defence for them to end up forcing the ball over their own line - 3-0. Ardsley looked a little shellshocked with Crosspool controlling the game, passing the ball well and pressing to get it back when out of possession. Our fourth goal game through Will, capping a fine performance with an equally fine goal following a great passing movement through the midfield. Will showed his class with a lovely chipped goal which their keeper couldn't quite reach as it sailed into the roof of the net. This was the signal for Ed to finally give into the pain he'd bravely played through with Joe giving him the rest his fantastic performance deserved. We were desperate to get Archie the clean sheet his first half performance deserved and, to Ardsley's credit, they almost ruined his day when their striker managed to finally get it past him only to see Max clear off the line. The final whistle came with the score 4-0 and the Crosspool Reds back where we belong - top of the league!

Some fantastic performances today with John getting through a fantastic amount of hard work in the middle, definitely playing a part in the clean sheet and also linking the play further forward. Ed's bravery and refusal to give into what must have been quite a bit of pain was admirable and appreciated by his team mates and manager. Pierre's work rate was impressive and, while he didn't get on the score sheet, his movement helped others to. But, there could only be one man of the match today and that goes to Archie who was absolutely brilliant. He was the difference between the two sides and kept us in the game with some vital saves at vital moments. So, a fantastic performance but only 3 points (and a 1 point lead at the top). It's important we build on this result and ensure no more slips to keep the pressure on our opponents.

Hoyland CF 0 Crosspool 3

Our fourth game of the season saw us travel to Barnsley to face Hoyland Common Falcons. This was going to be another tough game and the lads needed reminding of the importance of their preparation following our slow start the previous week. There was no overlay this weekend though as we started the game on the front foot, keeping possession well and probing from the middle. Hoyland were no mugs however and looked to hit us over the top with some dangerous through balls. Our back four were resolute though, with Lewis playing at left-back and carrying on from where he left off the previous week, playing out calmly from the back and holding his position well. Dylan and Max were also on the ball today, with their forwards getting little change out of them. Ben was his usual reliable self, pushing on from deep to support the attack and mopping up behind D and Max whenever required. Alex looked dangerous from the right hand side arrowing in some excellent crosses which Zac and Ed were unable to get on the end of. We were dominant in the middle of the park - John and Taylor winning their battles and playing forward with intelligence and patience. Their keeper had to be alert on a few occasions as we threatened to break the deadlock. At the other end, Archie was quick off his line to thwart another through ball and also showed good handling as their midfield tried some shots from long range. Pierre came on to replace Zac up front and looked lively, holding the ball up well and threatening with his pace and power. Ed dropped in behind him with Alex and Joe switching flanks to give the opposition a bit to think about. The half drew to a close with Crosspool just about edging it and looking like the whistle would go at 0-0. Then, a really important passage of play took place which highlighted the importance of having a top class keeper, brave and willing to save his team when it matters. A ball over the top again, which their striker raced onto. Archie came flying out as the Hoyland player bore down on goal and bravely dived at his feet to cut out the danger. For his troubles he took a late kick to the knee which must have hurt but - after a bit of rolling and drama - he got back onto his feet, limping through the remaining minutes with his net intact. 

We were pleased with our performance at half-time and felt our superior ball possession and fitness would tell during the 2nd half. Will came on to replace Joe on the right hand side of midfield with Ed moving to the left and Alex playing 'in the hole' behind Pierre. We really were beginning to dominate now with Taylor imperious in the middle. Will had a real impact too and was causing their full back problems down the right, linking well with Pierre. Pierre's movement was excellent and he stretched their back line giving Ed and Will more space on the wings. Our pressure eventually told when another good run by Ed saw their defender resort to bringing him down on our left hand side. Lewis stepped up and put in a fantastic delivery which Max almost got on the end of but Pierre anticipated and nodded into the corner of the net to make it 1-0. Hoyland tried to respond but Hopalong Waterall was alert and made a couple of good saves from their strikers. Joe came on to replace Alex and drop into the middle to give us an extra man in midfield. Will was unlucky not to add a 2nd after a jinking run on the right which saw him cut inside and unleash a shot towards the top corner. Their keeper made a great save but Will was onto it in a flash and hit the rebound well only to see their keeper thwart him again. James replaced Lewis who was looking a bit leggy after a fantastic effort and contribution to the cause. Our 2nd goal came soon after, following more good work from Ed on the left who played in a sweet cross which Pierre flicked towards goal but hit Joe in the nether regions bouncing through the keeper's legs. It comes to something when you've scored more goals with your crown jewels than you have with your feet! Hoyland were starting to get frustrated now as they chased shadows around the pitch and failed to trouble our back line. John, back to his imposing best, strode around the pitch winning the ball and showing us all how easy the game is with simple passing and movement. Our third came through Pierre after another dazzling run down the right from Will and a good ball into his feet. Pierre still had quite a bit to do but showed his finishing ability with an arrowed shot into the bottom corner. It should have been a hatrick after Will was brought down by their increasingly frustrated defender but Pierre decided to save that for next week against Ardsley! As the Hoyland frustrations boiled over with some naughty challenges which the referee rightly punished with two yellow cards, Crosspool saw the game out very professionally. We kept our composure well on a number of occasions - Ed showing great maturity after being kicked from behind only to dust himself down and get straight back to terrorising their defence. Max also showed the Sheffield Steel within the side now with a quite magnificent sliding tackle which took the ball first and their winger next leaving him in no doubt of the desire within the Crosspool team to win this game and keep a clean sheet. Hoyland almost punished the one lack of concentration we showed in the 2nd half after breaking from our corner and this was a timely reminder of the need to keep switched on. Archie was glad to see the ball bounce back off his bar and it would have been cruel if he'd not got the clean sheet his heroics deserved.

An excellent performance by the lads and one we can build on for our top of the table clash against Ardsley next week. There were some excellent performances from the Crosspool lads and it's good that we haven't got the space to list every single one of them here. We've already mentioned Archie who showed that, even on one leg, he's easily the best keeper in the league. He was ably assisted by his defence who are now starting to look a well drilled and organised unit - Lewis looks to be a useful addition to the back four. Pierre, Will and James all impressed from the bench. John was excellent in the middle. But, the man of the match award went to Taylor who put in one of those classy yet determined performances that we have come to expect from him.

Crosspool 3 Darfield 3

A fine day for a game of football and this thriller didn't disappoint. The Crosspool lads decided to have a late lie-in though and really didn't turn up until the start of the 2nd half. The less said about the 1st half the better with us being outplayed for the first time in a long while. We were second to the ball, struggled to find our passes and allowed the opposition to take the initiative with two early goals. The manager must also take some of the criticism, opting to change to a back three after Joe complained of illness in the warm up. The tactical change went badly with us being outnumbered in defence and struggling to find any width in our play. Zac and Pierre were isolated and struggled to get in the game. Ben found himself exposed on the right hand side and Ed and Noah struggled to adapt to the wing back roles. Not really surprising considering we've not played the formation much although we do need to try and adapt within games and organise ourselves as a team without touchline intervention. As it was, we couldn't wait to regroup at half-time as Darfield were in the ascendancy with every shot they hit seeming to hit the back of our net. Despite us changing to a 4-3-3 they scored a third after about 25 minutes to make it 3-0. We were looking a bit sorry for ourselves now as everything we seemed to do at the other end was either stopped by their impressive keeper or resulted in us snatching at chances. Joe, miraculously cured by the abject display on show, came on to replace Noah with Taylor moved to the right to push their left-winger back a bit. This seemed to have an effect and there were some positive signs as the half drew to a close. Archie, though, had to make a good save from their striker as he bore down on goal yet again.

We spoke at half-time about the need to show a bit of character. We had to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and show what we were made of. To the lads credit, their reaction was first class. Alex came on to replace Zac and play along side John and Joe in the middle, Ed pushed up onto the left wing and had an immediate impact. He had their full back on toast before arrowing a dangerous cross into the back post for Pierre. Unfortunately it just bounced up in front of Pierre and he couldn't quite get his finish right with the ball lifting wide over the bar. Taylor was stretching the opposition on the opposite side and the game had now turned on it's head. We were camped in their half with Alex, John  and Joe on the front foot, winning possession back and playing forward intelligently. Ed was a real threat from the left looking to take on their full back whenever he could or making runs from deep for incisive passes from the midfield trio. Max, Dylan, Ben and Will were now completely in charge at the back with the full backs joining in the attack whenever they could. Archie's starting position was also much improved and allowed the defence to push further up the pitch. A goal was inevitable and came through our captain, Taylor, after some good work again down the left from Ed. Darfield were playing for time as early as the 10th minute of the 2nd half and looked shell shocked while our lad's fitness once again showed. Lewis came on for Dylan in defence to give us a composed outlet from the back and this worked to great effect with him looking a natural at centre-half (much to Max's surprise!). Our second goal came through Pierre after some great work again from Alex and Joe in midfield and an unstoppable finish. With the goal under his belt Pierre looked a different player and really had the bit between his teeth. He was pressuring the ball from the front and really putting the opposition on the back foot. Wave after wave of pressure came with their keeper making some fantastic saves and chances going begging. Noah came on for Will at right back with the instruction to get forward and join in the attack. We showed great patience, refusing to become frustrated by Darfield's delaying tactics and never giving up on the equaliser. And this eventually paid off with an absolute beauty from supersub Noah. He picked up the ball 10 yards outside the area advancing, raised his head to take in the options and decided to take matters into his own hands. He struck the ball sweetly and it flew into the roof of their net seeing him wheel away to celebrate with his team mates. He looked like he couldn't quite believe he'd just scored the goal of the game. If this had been a boxing match the referee would have stopped it as Darfield looked dead on their feet and were hanging onto the ropes in desperation. Pierre picked up the ball on the edge of the area, pirouetted away from their defender and hit an unstoppable drive which struck the underside of the bar and dropped in the six yard box with no Crosspool player able to convert the rebound. It was probably the winner our second half performance deserved but to be fair to the opposition they'd have probably felt a bit robbed after dominating in the first.

A fantastic advert for junior football which was contested in a great spirit by both sides. If we get a game like that every week this season then we should be happy as it was a real test. Ultimately it was a show of great character from the Crosspool lads although a major learning point should also be taken from the game. We dropped two points today and find ourselves behind Ardsley in the league. This was solely down to the way we started the game and we really can't afford to do this again in a league that is shaping up to be very competitive. There were some excellent 2nd half performances but Joe just edged his mate Ed out, coming off his death bed(!) to give a commanding performance in the middle, winning his battles and getting us on the front foot. 

Crosspool 6 Tusaale 2

Another win for the Reds in a tough game against our recently promoted opponents. We started well, passing the ball around the pitch and spreading it wide to stretch the Tusaale back line. They defended well though and looked dangerous on the break with their forward quick and lively. Ed and Noah worked hard up front, pressuring their defenders when they had the ball and causing them problems down the wing with their pace. A number of crosses went across the goalmouth but we couldn't quite get on the end of them. At the other end, we struggled to deal with the long ball out of defence again and it looks like more work on the training ground is required. However, Max and Dylan were strong and determined and managed to snuff out most danger. James used the ball well down the left hand side, feeding Ed while Will and Taylor probed and prodded trying to release Zac further ahead. Ben was lively down the right hand side but still carried out his defensive duties when required. We were on top, creating plenty of half-chances but never quite managing to get the ball in the back of the net. John tried to drive us forward from the middle while having to be alert to the ball being played over him. Luke came on for Zac to see if he could finish one of the many chances we were creating. Lewis replaced Noah on the right with instructions to work the line and deliver some quality balls into the box. Tusaale were unlucky with another dangerous break which we failed to deal with but Archie dived bravely at their striker's feet to thwart him, taking a knock for his troubles. Not long after, their striker found himself through on goal again and we breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled his shot wide of Archie's right hand post. The half-time whistle went with the scores equal. We really should have been ahead on the balance of play but could also count ourselves lucky not to be behind after getting caught on the break one too many times.

We spoke at half-time about the importance of keeping our passing game going. We felt that Tusaale had worked hard in the first-half but would tire if we kept on moving the ball around the pitch. Joe came on for James with Ed switching to left-back and Taylor switching to the left. This proved to work well as Taylor and Ed combined well down the left causing their full-back real problems. Will was also starting to boss things in the middle with some able assistance from John and Joe. Our passing looked sharper and Tusaale struggled to win the ball back. We eventually got the breakthrough our play deserved with another excellent goal from Will who curled the ball into the bottom corner past their keeper. Another followed soon after with Lewis following in from a shot which their keeper saved, slotting the ball into the back of the net. We looked like we now had control of the game but a mad five minutes followed which saw us concede two pretty soft goals, giving the opposition a lifeline in a game that we should really have put to bed. They now had their tails up and came at us looking for a winner, playing two up front. Their forwards were causing real problems and they looked likely to score a third until Ed made a massive tackle just as their striker looked to side foot into an empty net. This proved to be the turning point as we went down the other end of the pitch and Will scored another - this one a real cracker from around 25 yards. Noah made it 4-2 soon after when his relentless running was rewarded after a cross-shot from Taylor which he got on the end of to finish. Luke was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with a crisp shot at goal which drifted wide. Zac added the 5th though with a well taken shot from just inside the box. Taylor then got the goal his 2nd half performance deserved after a brilliant run down the left-hand side, cutting inside and beating two players before stroking the ball into the net with his right foot.

While we definitely deserved to win the game, the scoreline probably flattered us a little. We passed the ball around the pitch well, creating lots of chances, but never really controlled the game, As a team we can also defend better. Still, a marked improvement from the previous week and progression in the way we played our football. Will had another fantastic game, deserving his man of the match award and scoring two great goals.  

Sheffield Rangers 1 Crosspool 3

Our first game of the season played in the September sunshine against newly promoted Sheffield Rangers. The conditions were perfect although the pitch a little compact for 11-a-side. Space was at a premium and we struggled to get our passing going, tending to try and force the ball through the centre rather than wide. After a while we started to get the ball out to the wings with Ed and Will both causing problems for the Rangers full backs. Max and Dylan were dominant at the back, giving the Rangers forward line nothing although a few balls over the top were causing us concern. Ben and James were also defending well but they were struggling to get further forward to assist the wide men. A free kick taken by Max in our half saw Ed break free on the left and he put in a good cross which fell kindly to Alex who side footed into the net. The goal saw us relax a little and start to pass the ball quicker around the pitch. Taylor and John were getting more involved and looking to feed the wide players. We were also playing higher up the pitch, pressing their defence and forcing mistakes. This brought about our 2nd goal after some good work from Alex and Will pressurising their back line and working the ball to Ed who stroked the ball into the net to make it 2-0. As the elder statesman of the team, Ed celebrates his 13th birthday on Tuesday so congratulations on that and well done on the goal. We were now playing confidently, dominating the space and forcing Rangers back. Another goal was coming and this time Will showed his class to score the goal of the game, cutting in from the right and curling a shot with his left foot into the top corner. The keeper had no chance. Zac came on to replace Pierre who hadn't seen much of the ball and had been tightly marked by their defenders. We kept on pressuring their defence but unfortunately the referee blew his whistle 5 minutes early, thinking we were still playing 30 mins rather than 35. The way the game was going we'd looked like adding to the score but the break gave Rangers a chance to regroup.

Noah and Joe came on for James and Alex at half-time and we talked about the congestion in the middle of the park and the need to try and use the wide players more. The Sheffield Ranger's managers half-time team talk must have been far more inspiring because they came out firing and soon had us on the back foot. To be honest, our defence withstood the pressure well but we struggled to clear our lines and lacked any real quality on our balls out to the midfield players. Noah did well playing in an unfamiliar full-back position giving us the width and joining in attacks on the left-hand side. Zac worked the line well and almost managed to claim an assist, lofting a ball into Joe who headed just over. Ranger's efforts finally paid off after the ball ricocheted off one of our defenders and fell to their forward. Archie was quick off his line and dived at the feet of the forward bravely to protect his net. Unfortunately he took the forward's legs from under him and the ref awarded a penalty which was taken well giving Archie no chance. The goal gave Rangers a boost and they came at us again, pushing for a second. Pierre came back on to give us a bit of a presence up front and try and hold the ball up to relieve the pressure. He almost got our 4th after a good through ball from Joe which saw Pierre bearing down on the keeper with the ball. The keeper saved well at his feet though and was alert when Pierre repaid the compliment by playing Joe in. Ed came on to play behind Pierre and made a real difference in the middle. James came on to play on the right side of midfield and impressed with Joe moving to the centre. Will also came on at full back to shore up the defence with Noah moving to the middle of the park. Rangers huffed and puffed but we never really looked like conceding another goal even though the ref played 40 mins in the 2nd half to make up for the first. John and Taylor worked tirelessly as usual doing a lot of the dirty work for the team.

We will definitely play better this season but there will be games like this where we have to dig in for each other and churn out a result. Might not please the spectators but a win's a win!! There were a few contenders for man of the match with Will showing some really classy touches and clever movement, Max commanding at the back and mopping up any danger, Dylan making some important interceptions and communicating well from the back. However, birthday boy, Ed Willis just edged it with another committed performance, some good work on the wings and real energy throughout. He also recovered his composure well after a classic teenage strop when their defender grabbed him in the box and the ref didn't give a penalty! Well done, Ed.

 

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