Photos by Jess Richardson. Visit jessrichardsonphotography.webs.com for more pictures and contact details.
The fourth round of games were incredibly tight, with just one goal over the three games. It was scored by the East, in a dogged 1-0 win over the West. Elsewhere Garston drew 0-0 with the South, whilst Hitchin and the North also finished goalless, in a game that would eventually be repeated as the final.
Considering the tournament was held so early in the season, it was great to see the standard of football that was on show. 38 goals were scored in the 21 eight-minute games, reflecting the free-flowing attacking football that was on display. The fifth round saw losses for the East, West and Boreal, at the hands of the North, Hitchin and the South respectively.
In what was most teams penultimate game, the sixth round of games saw teams really come into their own, as they fought for the four knockout positions available. There were wins for the North, Hitchin and Garston, who all looked to be certain to progress.
It seemed like just one of the knockout spots was up for grabs going into the last group game, and the East put their name in the hat for it with an impressive 3-0 win against Boreal. The South needed to win to have any chance of progressing, but a determined West side played well to earn a goalless draw. Elsewhere the two guest teams of Garston and Hitchin came face-to-face, with Hitchin taking the contest with a 1-0 win in a very tight game.
Though only four teams progressed from the groups, all teams must be praised for their attitude, work rate and their style of play. At this stage we said goodbye to Boreal, South and West.
The four teams with the best goal scoring record proceeded to the knockout stage, with 34 goals between them. Hitchin, who finished top of the group and only conceding one goal, played the East. In a very tight game, Hitchin deservedly prevailed and booked their spot in the final. St Albans City North played Garston in the second semi final, and a fantastic display of attacking intent from the North saw them come away 3-0 winners.
On the day I don’t think anyone could have argued that the best two teams had progressed to the final. A very strong looking North side knew they would have to be at their best to beat a hard working Hitchin side.
After a nervous first half from both teams, the score remained 0-0.
In the second half both teams sprang into life, with good chances falling to both teams. As the game wore on, the prospect of Extra Time seemed inevitable, until Hitchin stole a late winner. Final score 1-0 Hitchin.
The tournament was held to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and we raised over £360. I would like to thank everyone that helped on the day – referees Charlie, Matt and Ben, everyone that helped run the raffle and all of the managers for taking part and making sure that the day ran smoothly. Special thanks to Stuart and Kelly Fennel for their hard work, without which the day would not have happened. Again, great thanks go to Jeremy Pearlman, for all his hard work to make the tournament happen.
Finally our thanks go to all of our sponsors. Conker Nation made a substantial donation to our cause, Ark Construction sponsored the trophies and MacPro St Albans Design and Print printed the programmes. All of the above helped us raise an enormous amount for charity, something that everyone involved can be very proud of!
Congratulations to all of the teams, and we look forward to a great tournament next year!