The start of the Independent Schools Football season arrived on Sunday 10 September as the Dulwich College 1st team arrived at Charterhouse School to play in the national 6-a-side tournament. The 28 schools attending were split into 4 groups of 7, with the top 4 teams from each group qualifying for the knockout stages of the cup and plate.
Game 1 vs Bradfield
In the first game of the day, Dulwich struggled to get to grips with the movement off of the ball by Bradfield who scored two early goals. As Dulwich grew into the new format they began to compete and a good second half performance meant the game finished 0-3. (Bradfield went all the way to the final impressing throughout).
Game 2 vs KES Witley
Dulwich grew in confidence in the second game. Starting to understand how to press effectively on a full size pitch with only 6 players, Dulwich created a number of chances and maintained possession well. In the end the pressure told and on a quick Dulwich counter, George Tribe and Olly McNeill moved the ball well to find Oscar Gleave in space, who calmly fired the ball home to win the game 1-0.
Game 3 vs Oldham Hulme
Into their third game, the Dulwich boys really shone and dominated the game against their northern opponents. From the first minute the boys pressed high and allowed Oldham no time to play and won the ball high up the pitch with Oscar Gleave making an interception and running through to slide the ball past the Keeper, 1-0. After another high press the ball found its way to Oscar again whose shot could only be parried by the Oldham goalkeeper with Henry Loynes on hand to tap in the rebound to put the black and blues 2-0 up. After gaining possession in defence, James Blakemore drove forward with the ball and played a through ball to Henry Loynes on the left who coolly slotted the ball across the six yard box for James Blakedmore who carried on his run forward to tap the ball into the empty net. 3-0 at half time. In the second half Dulwich carried on with more of the same. After another attack George Tribe's strike on goal was saved and found its way out to Malcolm Eisenhardt on the edge of the box who placed the ball into the bottom corner to make it 4. The dominant performance was rounded off in style by Olly McNeill who pounced on a misplaced pass, running the ball back at Oldham before scoring the fifth in the final minute.
Game 4 v Bedes
Against a strong footballing school Dulwich tried a new, more tactical approach which succeeded. Dulwich denied Bedes any space in the final third and kept Bedes to only 2 shots in the whole game. After a great save by Oliver Storey had kept the game level, Bedes continued to press for a goal. Dulwich held firm but in injury time at the end of the game, a midfield interception led to a curled shot into the far corner to the despair of the Dulwich faithful. A fantastic effort and spirited performance who showed the ability to adapt their play to suit the situation.
Game 5 v Alleyn's
The boys were keen to impress against their local rivals. After conceding to a counter attack in the opening minutes, Dulwich went on the hunt for an equaliser. They pressed high and were rewarded after some nice team play led to Oscar Gleave smashing the ball home from close range. As the game continued, Dulwich pressed again to find a winner and with the last kick of the game the Alleyn's keeper pulled off a fantastic save to keep the scores level at 1-1 at full time.
Game 6 v St Johns
As tired legs and minds began to set in Dulwich again fell behind early. But once again battled back gaining a penalty after a good pass from Hector Preston led to George Tribe being brought down in the box. Oscar Gleave confidently finished the penalty to level things up. As the game progressed both teams looked tired as mistakes began to occur more regularly. St Johns twice broke past the last line of the Dulwich back line to lead 3-1. Again the Dulwich boys fought back. Good play from Mustafa Zafar and Malcolm Eisenhardt allowed the ball to be played to Olly McNeill who drove his finished hard across the keeper into the far corner. Unfortunately the time ran out as Dulwich pushed looking to tie the game which finished 2-3.
After the group stages Dulwich finished 4th in Group C and qualified for the plate competition.
Plate QF v Oswestry
Against a strong fast opposition, Dulwich's tired legs again made the going tough. Oswestry took the lead after some quick passing football. Straight after half time, Dulwich levelled with Oscar Gleave scoring from the penalty spot. As both teams searched for a goal, Oswestry twice caught Dulwich on the counter to book their place in the semi finals. (Oswestry went on to win the plate competition).
Overall a fantastic day of football with the 1st team playing some brilliant football against the best footballing independent schools in the country. Lots of positives from the day and ideas to take forward to the ISFA cup 1st round match later in the month and onto next terms football. Well done boys a great start to the year!
Squad: Oliver Storey, james blakemore, Ollie McNeill, George tribe, Oscar Gleave, Malcolm Eisenhardt, hector preston, Mustafa zafar and henry Loynes.