Saints in tournament success

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The Audlem Saints Junior football team is about to embark on its 5th season of competitive football and there have been a few changes for this Under 11s season.

Firstly, the team now play in the South Cheshire Youth League and thus will play at least half of the matches on grass/mud rather than the lush artificial surface at the Alex Soccer Centre.

Secondly, the team has accepted an invitation to become one of the Alex Soccer Centre representative teams and so will be known as ASC Saints. However, the team is still made up entirely of boys living in Audlem and is largely unchanged from the successful squad of recent years.

The team entered a one day, eight team tournament at Ruskin Sports College on Saturday, the idea being to gain some valuable practice on a grass surface.

Having safely secured various cricket, tennis and golf trophies over the summer, the boys turned up and donned the new kit and football boots with a mix of anticipation, excitement and a certain amount of nerves!

The draw for the group stages put Saints in a group which contained the 1st,2nd & 3rd placed teams last season so it was going to be tough.

Tough competitionIn the first game against Nantwich Tigers, Saints took a while to get used to the uneven surface but worked hard to remain competitive. With only one training session under their belts though, the boys demonstrated what can be achieved on the training field. A well rehearsed corner kick routine was executed superbly to give Saints a 1-0 win.

The second game was against last year's League champions and again the boys worked really hard and came back from 1-0 down to draw 1-1, the equaliser a great team move.

The final group game was a bit of a mis-match and Saints ran out comfortable winners and so topped the group and in doing so secured a semi-final place against Nantwich Town Diabolos. This performance was an excellent one. Hard work, plenty of skill and a little perseverance when the ball seemed destined never to cross the line was rewarded with a neat 2-0 win.

Thus, what was intended as a bit of a run out and a practice day had turned out to be 4 unbeaten games to set up a final against last year's League Champions.

Near perfect performanceThe performance in the final was near perfect. Firm but fair tackling in defence, solid hard working midfield displays and some beautiful flowing moves created good early chances for Saints.

Clinical finishing capitalised on the good start and Saints raced into a 3-0 lead. A scrambled goal 5 minutes from time took the game to 3-1 and one wondered if nerves night lead to a dramatic finish. However, Saints created another nice chance which was calmly tucked away to make it 4-1 and take the game beyond the opposition.

Thus, the season starts with a fantastic victory in a tournament which should set the team up nicely for the league campaign which starts next Sunday...ironically against the same team beaten in yesterday final!