Bringing communities together

Rousing crowds gather to watch as Haven kicks off the Annual Football Tournament

The fixture: Inaugural Match of the Annual Football Tournament   Date: 30th December 2010   Venue: Atla  Time: 3pm kick-off

Participating teams: 
GROUP A: “England”, MBCF Youth Group
GROUP B:  Atla Boys, Bamakhyapa Samiti

GROUP A MATCH: A vastly under-strength “England” side went down 1-0 to MBCF Youth Group on Thursday, with only a 26th-minute single goal separating the two sides.  After a confidence building “team-huddle” and faced with a host of players unavailable due to other commitments, the visitors lined up in a 1-2-2 formation.  MBCF Youth Group, missing first-choice players,  were experimenting with a 2-2-1 formation and started the brighter as midfield spurned good early opportunities when well placed. Even so, it was MBCF Youth Group who took the lead in the 26th minute with a beautifully constructed goal. A well worked move saw one midfield player make space on the left before driving in a low shot that the “England” goalkeeper did well to parry. However, onrushing Youth Group support from the wings charged in to smash the rebound into the roof of the net to give the Youth Group the lead they deserved.

GROUP B MATCH: Neighbours, Bamakhyapa Samiti’s tournament adventure ended in disappointment as they were stunned with four goals by tournament hosts Atla Boys. Key player, sporting the number one shirt, scored a double with an easy header in the 18th minute and a 22nd minute goal destined for the blooper tape. Bamakhyapa Samiti were punished for a poor second-half showing when midfield let a harmless throw in from the left run between their bodies, allowing Atla Boys ample time to curl a glorious right foot shot around the goalie from 25 yards in the 28th minute. Midfield for the home team had earlier opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a simple tap in from a low cross from wing support. The host team captain will undoubtedly take heart from the gutsy performance by his troops.

THE FINAL: Atla Boys stumbled in their first 2010 tournament final as the Youth Group held MBCF’s favourites to a goalless draw, a result that will put a totally new complexion on next year’s Group C. MBCF Youth Group settled quicker than their hosts Atla Boys, who displayed early signs of big-stage nerves in front of their own expectant fans. Neither team was able to break the deadlock during normal time despite a number of chances which were all dealt with by both goalkeepers. MBCF’s iron defence rarely let Atla Boys have much of a look in throughout the first half. Their captain showed occasional flashes of the silky skills that have made him such a star last season but up front hitmen failed to seriously trouble the Youth Group member in goal. Five minutes after the interval, Atla Boys with renewed vigour tried to use their superior height and pace to their advantage and it almost paid off as early as the sixth minute when their captain nodded just wide from a free kick. More chances to gain the initiative were few and far between and the match always looked destined to be a stalemate. The game badly needed a goal or, failing that, a decent shot on target and it at least got the latter on the 26th minute, although Atla Boys wasted the good chance to go ahead after tamely heading the low cross into opposing goalie’s hands from eight yards. Unsurprisingly the match headed to a penalty shoot out. From the spectator’s point of view, this had been a boring match and sensing an exciting spot kick finish, the crowd invaded the pitch. To gain a better vantage point, they had unwisely left a narrow strip of turf for star shooters to position the ball on. Hard line referee was having none of that and showed his authority as piercing blows from his whistle cleared the field quickly. Nerves got the better of MBCF Youth Group member as his opening penalty was massively off target. Although their goalkeeper managed to keep out one effort from the hosts, experience was on the home team’s side and all three Atla Boys team members converted from 12 yards.  MBCF Youth Group captain said, “We can take a lot of positives into next year’s challenge.  We created some good combinations in the first half, created some good opportunities, but they didn’t go in today. I think the area that let us down was the sharpness and execution in the attacking part of the field and this is something we’ll be working on”.  Atla Boys goalkeeper was the hero of the day after two saves in the penalty shoot out which secured his team’s place in next year’s tournament.

This was a tremendous afternoon for all concerned as Haven’s latest initiative proved to be highly entertaining for both players and spectators alike.  A sense of pride, friendly rivalry and quality sportsmanship allowed communities to come together to celebrate in a way local villagers have never seen before.  Every single person is looking forward to next year’s confrontation!

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