Tuesday, 16 February 2016
With Dacorum finishing as Runner's Up in the 7-a-side National Final last season, and three members of Dacorum being called up to the England Under 12s set up for the Danone Nations Cup Finals in Brazil, hopes were high that Dacorum could go one step further this season and be crowned National Champions. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite to plan at the South East Regional Finals in London. A report of the events of this day, written by team reporter, Harvey Mitchell, is below.
In the South East Regional Finals, Dacorum selected ten players to represent their district and Hertfordshire at this 7-a-side tournament. In a tournament that contained eight County Champions from around the region, Dacorum were drawn in a tough group that contained Barnet District, Brighton District and Dagenham District. Dacorum’s first game was against Essex County Champions,
Play began evenly until a promising Dagenham attack was snuffed out by the solid defence of Dacorum. The first real chance occurred when powerhouse midfielder, Max Bustamante, played a through ball only to see Freddie Moriarty slip over just as he was about to finish. Five minutes later, he redeemed himself. Picking up the ball on the corner of the box and sidestepping the defender to fire a rocket shot in the top corner. Straight after, he was put through again and managed to slip it past the Dagenham goalkeeper for winger Kieran Patterson to tap the ball into an empty net. By this time, Freddie Moriarty was in the thick of it, he had a chance to make it 3-0, but a fantastic goal line clearance denied him. One minute later, the referee blew for full time with the score 2-0 to Dacorum. A great start to the tournament.
The second game was against Sussex County Champions, Brighton District.D espite performing well in their first game, Dacorum couldn’t break the deadlock, Freddie Moriarty was put through early into the first half but his touch let him down and the ball went out of play for a goal kick. Kieran Patterson then came close to opening the scoring but his shot hit the bar. The sound of the referee’s whistle left both of the teams walking off disappointed. 0-0 in a game that Dacorum should have won.
Barnet (Outer London Champions) were the final opponents of the group, and play started evenly until, with the first real piece of action being when Max Delyfer went down to a clumsy challenge from Barnet, despite being in pain, he carried on. Soon after, miscommunications across the Dacorum back line allowed Barnet to break through and fire the ball past Dacorum goalkeeper, Lewis Lavin. But Dacorum didn’t give up without a fight; they pushed hard for an equaliser and almost found it, winger Ibrahim Busari cut inside and played the ball across the box, only to see it just miss the outstretched leg of Max Bustamante. The final Dacorum attack which was stopped, the referee signalled the end of the game. Despite this defeat, Dacorum went through to the semi-finals on goal difference. South London (Inner London Champions) would be their opponents.
When the semi-final started, the Dacorum boys looked very tired and worn out, but they still battled. South London were undefeated in the competition and on paper looked like very strong opposition. Dacorum had an early chance but once again, they just failed to find the net. With the game goalless at half time, frustration was slowly starting creep in amongst the players and two minutes later they conceded a freak goal. Caught off guard by a clever through ball and slick passing and movement, the ball was in the back of the net via a large deflection off of the outstretched leg of Dacorum defender, Joseph Clark. With only had 10 minutes left to equalise, Dacorum captain, Ben Smith did his best to motivate the rest of the squad with his direct dribbles from defence. However, South London could have had a second goal but thanks to a fantastic goal line clearance by George Wareham, the score stayed only one nil.
Dacorum continued to pile on the pressure, resorting to one defender and everyone else attacking. Dacorum were now firing shot after shot at the South London goalkeeper and running the defence ragged and passing the ball like Brazil in the 1970 World Cup team but they just couldn’t beat the inspired goalkeeping and defending of the South London team. There was drama until the final whistle when in the last minute, the equaliser was centimetres away, literally. Goalkeeper, Lewis Lavin, moved up to the half way line for a corner and had a clearance go straight to his feet. He took one touch and lofted the ball into the area, for Freddie Moriarty to take one touch, flicked it over the goalkeeper brilliantly, but the shot was blocked and cleared and to the despair of the Dacorum players and fans, the game ended and Dacorum were knocked out. The chance to reach the National Final two years in a row was over.
Co-manager, Luke Nicholls, said: ‘’The boys worked really hard and were extremely unlucky not to reach the final; it was a good experience and a really enjoyable competition. On another day, with a bit more luck, we’d have been into the final and into the National Final. There’s always next season.’’
Squad; Lewis Lavin, Joseph Clark, George Wareham, Ben Smith (C), Max Bustamante, Ibrahim Busari, Max Delyfer, Kieran Patterson, Jack Gill and Freddie Moriarty.