Y11 Wirral Cup Semi Final – Calday 3-2 Mosslands

Calday’s Year 11 football team progressed to the Wirral Cup Final on Thursday afternoon at The Campus, defeating a resolute Mosslands side.

The men in maroon beat Hilbre at Prenton Park in the final of the same competition in May 2018, at the end of their first year at Calday. They’ve now bookended their journey with one more final, hoping to finish in the same way that they started – as Champions of Wirral.

With an enforced last-minute venue change from Grammar School Lane to Tranmere Rovers’ training ground, Calday were in unfamiliar territory, having played at Bidston for the previous rounds of the tournament. However, the artificial pitch at the League Two side’s facilities looked and felt like a grass surface and welcomed the opportunity for a swift passing game.

This semi-final tie was closely contested throughout, not least in the first half, when both sides had good chances to take the lead. Calday built up well from the back and through the midfield, though Mosslands defended in numbers, quickly regaining possession before the ball could meander its way into any areas of concern.

Where Calday were seeming to have more success was down the left, with Russell creating opportunities as he looked to take on the Mosslands defenders. At this point, Calday were looking increasingly likely to score.

Up the other end, Dempsey and Martin were working well to deter any threats to their goal, ably assisted by Pike and O’Rorke on the right and the left respectively. Mosslands looked good on the ball in the final third, however, and began to create more opportunities of their own.

With twenty minutes on the clock, the game saw its first goal. Despite the Calday defence appealing to the referee for a push on the edge of their own box, play continued – and in the next phase of play, Mosslands were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Keeper Wiggins made a fantastic one-handed save from the set-piece, but a Mosslands player was quickest to the rebound and put the visitors ahead. 0-1.

And so it continued, a tight encounter with both sides creating good opportunities to further the scoring. The next goal, however, was a well-worked equaliser from the home side. Once again, Russell weaved his way towards the corner flag and whipped in a low cross, which was confidently met by Lane, as he finished into the corner for his fourth of the season. 1-1 with ten minutes until half-time.

Even though Calday continually tried to assert their authority onto the game, Mosslands had their own say on the proceedings, closing Calday’s players down quickly, and working well as a unit to defend when they had to. The team from Wallasey were rewarded for their efforts six minutes before the break. The left-sided midfielder, who was skilful and a good passer, floated in a deep cross towards the back post, and the Mosslands forward directed his header downwards to elude Wiggins and put the visitors back in the lead. 1-2.

Calday went into the break one goal behind and knew that they had their work cut out if they were to reach the final. They also knew that, if they were to lose this game, it would be their last as a team together. The main message at half-time was to increase the pressure, win more battles and work in pairs to keep the shape. In addition, Dancey was introduced to the game, as he hoped to add an extra dimension to the Calday attack.

In a similar manner to Manchester City against Real Madrid in the Champions League earlier in the week, Calday had multiple huge chances to get back into the game through the hardworking and problem-causing Allport, but the Mosslands goalkeeper stood strong and preserved the visitors’ lead. On occasion, however, Mosslands also had opportunities to extend their lead, hitting the crossbar and testing Wiggins.

Compared to the first half, however, the game was much less intense as the clock ticked on and Calday neared the exit. In an attempt to add some spark to the game and sure up the defence, Smith and Harris came on for Calday. They both fulfilled their roles professionally, and the hosts relentlessly pressed high. Blackie’s versatility also stabilised the team and added to the pressure they were putting on the Mosslands defence.

With five minutes left for Calday to salvage a draw and take the game to penalties, Allport worked his way into a fantastic position to the right of the area and fed a pinpoint pass to midfielder Brocklehurst, who coolly finished to take the tie level. 2-2, and three goals in three games for the superb midfielder.

A brief stoppage in play saw the Calday players call a team meeting on the touchline, as they discussed their plan and now exuded confidence. Nevertheless, with a draw meaning the game would go to penalties, coach Phillips began to take names for the potential shootout which might follow.

Bastow, who impressed in his previous substitute appearance, was introduced on the left with Calday hoping to take advantage of his passing ability moving forward. Only a couple of minutes later, and in the last minute of normal time, the left-sided midfielder received the ball in a good position, drove towards the goal line on the left, and chipped the ball into the six-yard box, where Poe was on hand to fire the ball home from close range, score his 24th goal in Calday colours and send Calday through to the final. 3-2.

Calday saw out the 5 minutes of stoppage time expertly, celebrating a fantastic comeback and another Cup Final. Well done to all students involved in the team’s progression in the Wirral Cup!

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