Navigation Menu

Park Celtic Football Club

U16Bs – Could they get 3 On The Bounce?

Soccer’s a funny old game and no two matches are ever the same, they’re more like life / box of chocolates……………you know the rest!

Having scored a victory at home against St. James Athletic last Sunday week, the boys followed it up with a ‘right old ding-dong’ away to Harolds Cross last Sunday and eventually claimed a 3-0 victory. 

As a wise coach once said, ‘Losing is a habit but then, so is winning’. 

Kingston Rovers are a great team, they have come from losing league matches and friendlies against us to resoundingly beating us in recent times, in both types of fixtures. Sunday 24th September would see Park Celtic against their adversaries in Stepaside, our own training ground/Kingston home ground. This would be a different game given the surface, then again it would also be a different game given it was the return leg of the league, and, the opportunity for 3-in-a-row.

On paper and recent form, the U16Bs should expect to be beaten, unless they lived up to the belief of their gaffer, put into practice their training from Wednesday, all ‘showed up’ and believed in each other – a tall order perhaps?

This reporter stood outside the fence while their coach saw them all arrive in time to do a few simple stretches, drills and take time out to do a quick pre-match prep talk. There was something different about them today, they didn’t seem as loose in warm-up, they seemed to be organised, attentive, focused and alert, but, would they be together?

From the 10:20am whistle, it was immediately apparent they were ‘locked-in’ and while each team attacked vigorously  each defense held up. After 15 mins Park had the upper hand, played solid passing, not giving away too much ball but were frustrated in not being able to put their chances away…..,,,,Here we go again.

With 15 mins of the 1st half remaining two substitutions were made, which could have costed dearly but the fresh legs were just as equal to the task of those they replaced.

Both sides again made changes into the second half and as it progressed it seemed Kingston were getting to grips and on top of the game. Near misses from Kingston appeared to be a sign of things to come and while Park had a golden opportunity 20 mins in, the real chance for us came with a penalty 5 mins later. The chance was squandered and it seemed as if this might be ‘the straw….’

A change of positions for two, followed by one substitution again could have unraveled the already flagging and frustrated team. Wave after wave Kingston pounded in and, time after time, the back three and keeper kept them out – and then: Dunkirk! 

One of our most talented, who had led all morning from the back, strayed a little too far forward and having to retreat was chomping at the heals of his no. 10 adversary. A little too close, and while both had received yellow earlier, a second one for Park and we were down to 10. Surely it was all over.

Whatever had been said to them or whatever they had for breakfast, each one to a man moved up a gear. Suddenly the tide started to turn and while Kingston mid-field remained in control when they began their attacks, they could not ‘get up the beach and take the hill’ and the adrenaline and sideline crowd seemed to lift the spirits of the ‘nearly out on their feet’ 10.

With a sudden Park surge of attack, a shot seemed to get trapped slightly while running under the legs of the Kingston keeper kneeling down to collect, Paul Leon having jumped the keeper turned back and for 3 seconds – time stood still.

I’ve replayed it in my minds eye but how he managed to hook the ball out (from between the keepers legs) pull it back and turn onto it while all seemed to look on in slo-mo, I still can’t fathom, but it was enough to ensure a split-second advantage to slot home in the bottom right, with every player on the pitch literally behind him. 

The coach screamed at them to re-group and even though some had no legs left and by all rights should have dropped, he encouraged them to dig-deep, work even harder and hold on for the eternity of 5 more minutes.   

Soccer – like I said ‘it’s a funny old game’ and though they tried valiantly, there was no way today that Kingston were getting through.

Afterwards I asked the ‘euphoric’ gaffer how he felt!  He said, “To be honest, this one I really wanted for them. If we’d lost I’d have been gutted for the lads, though we had our chances and perhaps on squandering them we couldn’t have complained. If we’d drawn I’d have been ecstatic because they played exactly as I had asked them to and a point would have been a good result. To take the win and 3 points with that level of commitment, passion, communication and skill and finding the reserve will when down to 10 to never give up on each other and keep pressing makes it well deserved and a true testament to my fine bunch of young men”.

I asked if he would single anyone out and he replied; “To win matches doesn’t take one or two individuals, it takes a team and if we never win another match for the rest of the season I won’t care because today they worked as a team on the pitch and the sidelines and did everything right. We worked like a well-oiled machine, we had a plan and we executed that plan at every turn – as a team.” 

“If I can paraphrase”, he added, “days like these don’t come around often and I do love it when the plan comes together. These guys are not my B team, they’re the A-Team”

Din-da-din-din, din-din-diiiiiiinnnn

Final Score:  

Park Celtic 1 – Kingston Rovers 0