On Thursday 5 October the U11 squad travelled to Alleyn's School to play in the ISFA seven-a-side London regional tournament. 17 teams entered the tournament with the teams being split into 3 groups.
Dulwich in Group B, started the day against the hosts Alleyn's. After a nervy beginning Dulwich began to try to play the attacking passing football they have been working on in training. As the game went on, both team were evenly matched with Dulwich creating more chances but struggling to find the back of the net. After Alleyn's hit the Dulwich crossbar, the boys sprang into action and after a well worked throw Max popped up on the left and his cross come shot found its way over the keeper into the far corner of the net. Dulwich held firm in the final minutes to win their first group game 1-0.
In their second group game the boys Dulwich faced Notting Hill Prep. After a strong start Dulwich pressed high and good work from Matteo to win the ball back before finding a pass to Noah, who volleyed the ball into the top corner to put Dulwich 1-0 up. In the second half a fast counter attack from Alessandro down the right wing after a lay off from Tristan, led to Alessandro beating his defender before crossing low and hard to the front post from Tristan who carried on his run to tap it in to double Dulwich's advantage. As the final whistle blew Dulwich deserved their 2-0 win.
Kings College Wimbledon were Dulwich opponents in the next group game. In an even contest both teams created half chances but neither could take the upper hand to change the score. As the game drew on both teams' defences held firm and a special effort from the Dulwich defence Max, Saul and Will ensure the score remained 0-0 at full time.
In their fourth group game, Dulwich faced Arnold House the other favoured team in their group. Dulwich controlled possession in the first half as Arnold House started slowly and took advantage after good work from Sam who crossed the ball and found Matteo at the back post to head home, 1-0. Dulwich extended their lead shortly after with Sam pouncing on a loose ball in midfield and shooting first time with a shot that surprised the Arnold House keeper sneaking into the bottom corner. Dulwich should have then killed off the game creating a number of clear chances but they could not manage to score a third. As Arnold House grew into the game, they began to create chances as the pressure mounted especially from their long throw ins. From one of these throw ins, Arnold House scored to make the score 2-1 with minutes remaining. As they pushed to level the game, Dulwich stood firm in defence with Henry making two fantastic save and the rest of the boys working extremely hard to hold on to win the game 2-1.
In their final group game the boys knew a win would see them through to the knockout stages top of the group. With the added motivation the Dulwich boys pressed Gatehouse from the first whistle, dominating the possession and territory. Creating lots of chances the boys became more confident and began to pass the ball around trying to find space in the Gatehouse half. From a corner Max rose highest and attacked the ball, sending it flying into the ball of the net for Dulwich to take the lead. As the game progressed Dulwich looked the most likely to score again and with minutes remaining Tristan attacked the ball in the box and fired home to leave the score 2-0 to Dulwich.
With the top two in each group and the best two third place teams making up the knockout stages, Dulwich having won four and drawing one of their five games, scoring seven and conceding only one goal, qualified top of their Group. In the quarter final they faced Eaton House. Re-energised the Dulwich boys went out to prove they deserved their place in the final stages. They worked extremely hard and took the lead late on in the first half with Tristan firing home a rocket from the by-line which snuck in the near post past the keeper. In the second half Dulwich looked to press home their advantage and on the break the ball was played forward to Noah who beat a defender and fired another shot past the keeper into the top corner to make it 2-0. Another strike from Noah added a third late on sending Dulwich into the semi-finals with a 3-0 win.
In the semi-final Dulwich were up against Hereward House. Noah broke the deadlock in the first half with a strong shot that the keeper could only parry into the corner. A Tristan free kick from the edge of the box doubled the Dulwich lead as he fired low and hard across the keeper into the far corner. The victory was secured early in the second half as Noah again finished well on the break sliding the ball past the keeper into the far corner. Another strong performance as the boys battled hard and showed a real determination to reach the final.
In the final, Dulwich faced Thomas' Battersea. After an end to end start, Thomas' took the lead with their left winger firing home at the near post. But Dulwich did not give up and battled back into the game and on a breakaway through midfielder Tristan played the ball to Noah who passed onto Matteo who finished across the keeper to tie up the game. Minutes later Dulwich pressed high and stole the ball off Thomas' defence with Sam firing home to the cheers from the fans (parents) on the side. At half time the boys knew they had something to hold onto with only six minutes left in the tournament. Thomas' pressed to try and equalise but Dulwich defence of Henry, Saul and Max held firm. On another counter attack Noah chased hard beating the defender to the ball and poking it home across the keeper to make it 3-1. The confidence was flowing and again a ball played forward led to Noah winning the ball of the Thomas' defence before finishing to make it 4-1. Dulwich then held firm for the final minutes capping their best performance with a 4-1 win.
A fantastic achievement for the boys who improved as the day progressed to be crowned the ISFA London Regional Seven-a-side Champions 2017-18. The boys will now travel to the ISFA National seven-a-side finals at St George's Park, the home of English Football and where the England national team train on Tuesday 23 April.
Well done to all boys who took part.
Squad (pictured): Henry Gooderham, Saul Cozier, Max Mukerji, Will Davies, Sam Ketteley, Noah Ridgeon, Tristan Saunders, Luke Meyohas, Matteo Cranchi, Alessandro Russo.
An overall write up can be found on the ISFA website (http://isfa.org.uk/juniors/68-juniors/isfa-u11-seven-a-side-tournament/159-london-autumn-u11-seven-a-side-championship) with all group information and results on the SOCS website (http://www.schoolssports.com/CompetitionMicrosite/Competition.asp?TID=ISFA-Sevens&TSID=4049).