Match Report
St John the Baptist School Boys-Year 9 vs  Salesian School
On: Thursday, 09 Feb 2023
Venue: at Home

As our SJB team gathered in the changing room it was an unnerving start to the lead-up to the match as we discovered we only had 11 players with no substitutes after some late absences. The mood was high as we were unbeaten in our first two games and looked to extend that run against this Salesian’s side. We headed out to the pitch and after a brief warmup, the match was underway. The game started off very scrappy, with neither team able to grab a foothold in the early stages. Both sides were trying to play some positive, passing football although not much came of it in the first 20 minutes. It was roughly
just after 20 minutes in to the game when the first breakthrough came - an early cross was fired in from Salesian’s left flank in to what looked like a harmless area. Cooper came out to collect and looked unopposed but spilled it towards Berry at the back post. A lack of communication resulted in Berry attempting to clear the ball back across goal but hitting the ball in to Cooper’s face and rebounding in to the empty net. It was an unfortunate mishap which felt undeserved after the defence had been solid previously to the goal.

With not long left of the 1st half, SJB looked to bounce back quickly and equal the score. After a few minutes of much better football from SJB and numerous chances, the ball fell to Callow just inside the box and he managed to get a shot off quickly into the far bottom right corner to level the score to 1-1. SJB then had a few more minutes of total control, with quite a few more chances but the score remained equal as the halftime whistle
blew. In the team talk, composure was the key word as we realised we needed to relax on the ball and stay calm when picking our passes.

We came out in the 2nd half looking more confident and it showed quickly with a calm finish from Sam after a lovely slide rule pass from Wilson. We were feeling at the top of our game then and after a good 10 minutes or so of dominant football, Sam added another to his tally for the day following a bicycle kick from 2 yards out after
the ball looped up in the air and he acrobatically finished. This goal was scored with roughly 15 minutes remaining and SJB were feeling relatively safe with a 2-goal cushion. The feeling of safety disappeared quickly though as Salesians added a goal after our defence struggled to clear the ball from a free kick and we all realised we were in for a nervy final 10 minutes as our opponents looked rejuvenated and our defence looked tired. SJB managed to keep the Salesians attack at bay for the next 5 minutes but as the opposition earned a corner late on SJB prepared for what would hopefully be the last attack of the game. The delivery was tame to the front post but the SJB defence failed to clear the ball and the Salesians striker calmly converted as the ball fell to him
by the penalty spot. Morale was low with only 3 or so minutes remaining our hopes for getting a result from the game were rapidly vanishing.
SJB dug deep and surged forward for one last attack, and we managed to earn a free kick in a great position just outside the box on the right hand side. The small crowd and the players realised this was probably the last chance to claim the win, there was some debate amongst SJB as to who was to take the set piece but it was Callow who was stood over the ball and lined up the free kick. The crowd hushed as they all knew this was SJB’s chance to take victory. Salesian made the mistake of putting some of their men on the line which enabled Cavenham and others to block the keeper’s vision. Callow stepped up and after a short run up - he scored with a well-placed effort directed in to the far left hand side of the goal and it was jubilation! Surely that was the win sealed and the players were ecstatic. After the celebrations were over, the team were determined not to let their hard work be wasted and they managed to keep out the long ball from the kick off and clear the ball up to Wilson who only had the keeper to beat and as he was running in from the halfway line it looked like he never had the ball fully under control and the keeper did well to smother the ball. Nevertheless, the final whistle came swiftly after, confirming the win for SJB: we had extended our winning record to 3 games in a row and we remained unbeaten. It was a great performance from everyone and a lot of hard work was put in as everyone played the full game. The final result was 4-3 and there was some great football on display from both teams and we are now looking towards our next game vs Fullbrook.