York & District Schoolboys Football

U15s York 1-3 Knowsley St Helens (ESFA Champions Cup Plate Semi Final)

York vs Knowsley St Helens
ESFA Champions Cup Plate Semi Final
Date: 16th March
Venue: York

Team Lineup: (Back Row L to R) Olaf Gorczyczewski, Oliver Waygood, Charlie Anderson, Dara Sanusi, Harley Waddington, Luca Long, Ben Alder, Harry Waines, Matthew Orr, Sam Parris
(Front Row L to R) Ewan Daly, Isaac Arif, Charlie Goodwin, Lucas Matthews, Bodhi Justice, Finn Davis

York’s Champions Cup adventure came to a disappointing end today in the national plate semi final, as they suffered defeat to an excellent Knowsley St Helens side. Despite a spirited second half performance York left themselves with too much to do following a disjointed first half with the damage being done in a 10 minute spell where the game got away from them. However the York boys can hold their heads up high as they clearly showed through the second half performance that they could compete at this level and fully deserved their goal and were unlucky not to score at least another.

The sun came out for once, so it was a lovely morning for football and the pitch conditions were good to ensure a competitive game. It was clear from the outset that Knowsley St Helens were a serious team as the moved the ball with purpose and energy as York showed them too much respect early on. York were standing off and not getting close enough to their opposition as Knowsley looked the more accomplished team and began to exert pressure on the York defence. There was too much space in midfield as Knowsley began to overload the numbers and the pace of their attack was also a concern. At the back Charlie Anderson, Luca Long, Harley Waddington and Oliver Waygood had their work cut out to contain the Knowsley forwards, but Ben Alder in goal wasn’t worked too hard as by and large the York defence was holding.

Olaf Gorczyczewski, playing the attacking midfield role was starting to put his weight about using his strength to win back possession and get attacks moving and it was through working with Charlie Goodwin, tirelessly running, created York’s first opportunity but unfortunately the final pass lacked accuracy. In midfield Harry Waines and Lucas Matthews were working very hard to close down and win possession, but to Knowsley’s credit they began to exploit the space this was leaving and this was creating problems for York. Finn Davis and Sam Parris on the wings were tracking back to give support to their defence and didn’t get enough opportunities to push forward in the first half.

The breakthrough for Knowsley St Helens came about mid-way through the first half when a superb long shot evaded the fingertips of Alder. York now needed to stay calm but slack play out from the back was quickly turned over and a superb cross and finish quickly put another goal on the scoreboard. As York looked to break on a number of occasions, tactical fouls in the midfield area were stopping these attacks and the ref had to produce a yellow card. Frustrating, but arguably smart play from Knowsley. Gorczyczewski’s freekick was well over the goal, but minutes later Davis tested the keeper with a freekick from outside the box.

Staying in the game was now key for York, but it was the 3rd goal before halftime which arguably killed the contest. A counter attacking play which showed the pace and precision of the Knowsley forward gave them a commanding lead and a long way back for York. A regroup and change of shape was needed. Dara Sanusi and Matthew Orr added physicality while Isaac Arif dropped into central midfield to bring his energy and pace. This 3-5-2 setup was working as York now started to compete better in midfield and created attacks. York were now putting pressure on Knowsley, who always remained dangerous and Alder still needed to produce a great save from another long-distance effort. But at the other end chances were starting to appear, with Davis shooting over, Gorczyczewski twisting and turning in the box, Waines getting closer and the Knowsley keeper now having to work. Davis and MAtthews were more instrumental, combining well to create width and attacks, where as Orr’s smart short passing with Waines and Arif started to push York higher up the pitch.

York needed a quick response and they thought they had the goal when a ferocious left footed shot from Arif was destined for the top corner, only for the keeper to somehow get a hand to it. Superb play all round, but still no goal. York were playing so much better now and showing how well they can compete at this level, but left themselves with a huge hill to climb…..but they never gave up. Eventually the goal arrived through Arif poking home from a goalmouth scramble. It was the least York deserved but time was running out. Another freekick was earned on the edge of the bx but the Knowsley wall did its job. Time was now up as was York’s run in the Champions Cup. A superb achievement to get this far in the competition that was undone by a bad ten minute spell in the first half.

Congratulations must be extended to Knowsley who showed themselves to be an excellent football team and best wishes to them in the final. For York there are still a number of league games to complete, and positives must be taken from the second half performance to refuse to give up, played some great football and showed themselves to be a match for the finalists.

Final Score: York & District 1-3 Knowsley St. Helens
Goal Scorer: Isaac Arif