U10: Chipping Norton Swifts Black vs Ducklington FC
By Luke Newman
Swifts U10 Blacks struggles in the Champions Cup, after a decent run of form in the league, continued, as they faced a strong Ducklington side at Greystones.
Swifts were without their top goalscorer, Stan Jackman, for the game, as well as both Harry Dalton and Kole Walker-West. This meant that the team needed a slight change for their game with Ducklington, to accommodate the positions left vacant. Instead, they opted for a big switch - with Giovanni Virk beginning the game in goal, with John Makinson, their usual goalkeeper, beginning the game in a wholly unfamiliar position, leading the line up front. Between the two; Tyms Dang and FInley Chrich partnered each other in defence, with a midfield three of Lucas Timms, Charlie Edwards and Antonio Virk. This left the two newest recruits to the side to come on from the substitutes bench; with Alex Payne and Jayden Townsend both making an impact on proceedings.
It was a tight start to the game - neither team were able to get a good foothold in the match, with the only chance of any note falling to the visitors. A missed clearance left the Ducklington forward one on one - but Giovanni Virk made himself big, and made a super save to deny the forward - if his selection as goalkeeper for the game hadn't raised enough eyebrows, that save certainly had. At the other end, Charlie Edwards came close with a super effort from distance, as the ball whizzed narrowly over the crossbar.
The game continued to be hard-fought with defences on top - Jayden Townsend made an impact off the bench on his Home "debut" - he received the ball from Charlie Edwards, who had won the ball back for Swifts - Townsend's low drive well held by the Ducklington 'keeper. The visitors best chance in this spell came from a lovely piece of individual skill - a long ball out from the back was smashed towards goal by the number 7 with a stunning volley - but Giovanni Virk impressed again, tipping the ball onto the crossbar.
Swifts had a good spell with around 5 to go before the break; a long ball up the pitch from Giovanni Virk was touched on by John Makinson into the path of Alex Payne, who, fresh off the bench, strode forward before seeing his effort tipped wide of the far post by a great save. A superb effort from Jayden Townsend from long range also went just over the crossbar, with the goalkeeper helpless.
However, right on half time, a fortunate passage of play resulted in the opening goal, for Ducklington. Swifts looked as though they had dealt with the initial attack, only for Finley Chrich's clearance to strike the back of a Ducklington midfielder, and drop right at the feet of the number 14, who was completely free, and able to take one touch before finding the near corner. A harsh moment for Swifts, just seconds before the half time whistle.
The second half began in scrappy fashion, with no chances, or even shots at all in the opening 5 minutes. Long goal kicks from either goalkeeper looked the only threat, which in turn, didn't help with the quality of the game. Ducklington grabbed the first chance of the second period after 8 minutes and should have scored - another long ball wasn't dealt with by the Swifts defence, leaving a free shot for the number 9 - Jayden Townsend, now playing at the back, got across to block the shot, with the visitors' number 7 somehow striking the rebound over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Lucas Timms and Charlie Edwards both had shots blocked for Swifts, but Ducklington looked by far the more likely, and missed another huge chance, as a cross from the right hand side beat the entire Swifts team and found the number 9, who miscued his shot, diverting the ball sideways, rather than towards goal, from all of 5 yards.
Swifts seemed to be clinging on to the narrow scoreline at this point - Charlie Edwards bravely headed clear a powerful strike, before Giovanni Virk made two really good saves to keep his team in the match. The first, out to his left to tip a deflected shot wide, and the second, to tip the ball over the bar after the number 9 shifted the ball neatly onto his right foot to shoot from the corner of the area.
Eventually though the pressure told, and Ducklington doubled their tally for the day from the resulting corner. The goal was coming in truth, but it came in very soft fashion, as no-one closed the ball and man down on the edge of the box after half-clearing the corner, leaving the number 9 with the easiest of tasks to slide the ball into the far corner of the net. Swifts had gone at this point, and the visitors scored again with the final move of the game - the goalkeeper grabbing an assist as his kick beat the whole team before being touched in past Giovanni Virk, who came off his line in an attempt to narrow the angle for another save.
An unfortunate result for Swifts, who were well in the game for large periods, but ultimately just came short. Things may have been different should the team had been at full strength - but the team are finding their new Europa Shield group rather tough. They do have a chance to quickly put things right though, as they play in the same competition again next week, with a trip to Bloxham (February 23rd).