After 9 solid months of weekly training sessions, a tough schedule of training games and a gargantuan effort from parents and players alike to raise the money to fund the trip the LITC under 12s finally landed in Cardiff on Sunday evening to prepare for a their biggest challenge to date!
Having been entered into both an 11 and an 8 aside tournament the squad awoke to a tough schedule of 3 x 50 minute fixtures on the opening day.
At 10am they played their first fixture against a tough irish team, Athlone Tigers. The Lions started well and managed to secure themselves a 3-1 lead fairly early on. The opposition however came back strong to level the scores at 3-3 and the Lions soon found themselves having to dig very deep to keep themselves in the game. Thanks to a game changing clearance off the line midway through the second half by centre half Nathan Lunness, they avoided going behind and then found the reserves to press forward again and score a further two goals to secure a well deserved 5-3 victory.
The second game of the day was again against the very same team but on a mini soccer pitch with mini soccer goals in an 8 a side game. Having played and beaten Athlone only hours previously the Lions appeared to approach this game with a little too much complacency and after going behind 2-1 let the game run away from them somewhat and conceded two further late goals to lose 4-1 , how fortunes can change very quickly.
This result, together with a very constructive and honest team talk from coaches Dean and Jamie seemed to spur the player into action and they collectively pulled things round in their third and final 11 a side game of the day vs Cardiff City FC where, after a shaky start they gained and maintanined great composure on the ball, playing superb passing football and commanding the game. They scored two superbly worked goals to take a 2-0 lead at half time and showed everyone watching what great ability they have and how much they have all developed both indivdually and collectively as a team. As expected CCFC came out in the second half and pressed hard. The Lions held their nerve and continued to play superbly. CCFC took their chances and pulled the score back to 2-2 courtesy of 2 superbly taken strikes which there was very little the Lions could have done about. Nevertheless a 2-2 scoreline was an extremely worthy one, more importantly the football on display from both sides was a joy to watch as was confirmed by all the parents there lucky enough to see it!! All in all a great first day at the office for the young Lions!