The playoffs played at Leeds, split the teams into 2 pools which played round robin, followed by semi finals (for the top 2 in each pool) and final.
With the introduction of James to the back 4, George was deployed in a free role in attack where we have previously struggled to convert possession to goals. Unusually for Thirsk, the team started strongly in match 1 and the revised formation appeared to work well. We used the wider midfielders effectively (Hamish, Ben and Oli in rotation) and George was able to find plenty of opportunities to run at, and past, the Wakefield defence. After several chances, George hit an unstoppable reverse shot past a stationary keeper. Despite some opposition pressure, Tom only touched the ball twice as Joe, Jack and Arthur prevented any meaningful penetration into our D, and Thirsk were able to see out a 'comfortable' 1-0 win, hitting both post and cross bar before the end.
The second match against Bradford was altogether different. A bit too much running with the ball, not enough passing and an opposition who took their chance in front of goal for a deserved 1-0 win and a despondent Thirsk team.
However, the other results meant that Thirsk knew a win in the last match would secure a semi final position. The team started well, Matty and Sam in central midfield with plenty of possession to feed Conor, George and the wide players. A first goal came quite soon (George reverse hit squeezing through the keeper's legs), but an unexpected equaliser put the supporters right back on edge. The team however continued to dominate play and 2 more goals followed (George feeding Conor on the far post and scoring another himself), at which point, with a semi final looming, we rotated some players to keep some fresher legs for the semi. Fred filled in the back 4 to allow Arthur some opportunities at the front with Conor, which nearly worked twice, but just unable to score. Chapeltown did score one more goal but the defence were able to hold out.
With just enough time for water and a team photo, the team lined up against Leeds Adel, winners of the other pool. Unfortunately, our defence which had been so organised earlier in the day, twice allowed the Adel forwards behind them, for 2 soft goals, and a third followed. To their great credit, the team battled on positively, despite the odds against a result, and momentum shifted. One goal came back quite quickly (George reverse hit) and then the play of the day followed when Hamish caught an Adel defender in possession from a 16, nicked the ball, drove into the D and calmly slotted the ball into the far corner of the goal. Despite more Thirsk pressure in the D, the team were unable to get the equaliser they deserved and bowed out of the competition. In the other semi, the team we beat at the start of the day progressed to the final...
Hope to see some of the team playing on Saturdays next season and thanks for your support and travel logistics for all the tournaments.
Updated 22:26 - 30 Apr 2018 by Mike Rushmere