W – 4-1
A huge thank you to the boys who participated in today’s league match vs Rice Lane. The boys were coming off a 4-1 win vs Gwladys Street and were full of confidence, though knowing that Rice Lane are a big school with strong players, they knew they were in for a tough game.
The first 10 minutes of the game were played almost entirely in OLI’s half. On the backfoot, the boys had to defend constantly against Rice Lane’s direct passing and strength in the air. It was a baptism of fire for debutant Francis Westhead, who was having to use all of his height to cover Jake Jones and prevent an early goal. Keeper Kamil Skop was in stunning form, with diving saves helping him command the area and somehow keep the scoreline at 0-0.
However, that was to change. OLI began to string passes together and test the opposition keeper. It was a few minutes later when Bobby Mitchell pounded a header from outside of the area which flew into the top corner. The header was stunning, so much so that the Rice Lane parents all joined in applauding. The boys used this momentum to set Dylan O’Brien free for a 1-on-1 that he slid into the bottom corner for 2-0! Well done to Dylan for scoring his 1st OLI goal. Arguably against the run of play, the boys had weathered the storm and, with strong leadership for their captain, ended the half 2 up.
The boys began the second half by playing with creative freedom. A ball in was deflected and fell for Billy Smith to score a 3rd goal with an acrobatic close-range finish! Dad’s half-time pep talk had worked! However, Rice Lane continued to be a threat, scoring a goal of their own minutes later from inside the area.
With minutes left, the stunning defense of Jonny Gee, Ruben McNeil and Daniel Smith held strong to survive the second wind picked up by Rice Lane. After a defensive clearance, Joe McFarlane-Wells ducked past his man to slot a close-range finish in to make it 4-1! Shortly after, full time was called by the freezing and very tired referee.
These match reports are always full of praise and admiration for the team, as they always put 100% of their effort in. However, this match stands out more than any other I can remember. Incredible defending, passing and movement was nowhere near as important as the boys’ fantastic attitude. Playing as a team, they fought through the tough times of the match to end with a brilliant result. Condolences to Rice Lane who were extremely unlucky to end 4-1 down, their team played with heart and did their school very proud.
MOTM: Ruben McNeil. An unsung hero of the team. Preventing attacks and clearing his lines, Ruben is a hugely important piece of the team and played flawlessly tonight.