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28 November 2023
Our U11A football team qualified for the IAPS national finals down at Millfield School back in October, and the tournament was played on Sunday morning. We were drawn into a group alongside Downsend School from Surrey, Royal Russell School from Croydon, Chigwell School from Essex, and Repton Prep from Derby.
We struggled to hit the ground running in the first game against Downsend School, which was tightly contested and finished as a goalless 0-0 draw. Royal Russell School also proved to be a difficult opposition, but despite a late scare that called our keeper Henry into action, a smart finish from Jude at the near post secured the 3 points in the form of a 1-0 win. Our third match was against Chigwell, who we beat 2-1, with goals from Jude and Lochy enough to get us over the line for another 3 points. Our final match of the group was against Repton Prep, who won the regional qualifier that we played in. We were on top for the majority of the game, and our pressure was rewarded after a poor clearance found Lochy on the edge of the area, who smashed it home for a narrow 1-0 win… a scoreline that didn’t justify the convincing nature of the performance.
As a result, we finished top of the group with 10 points from a possible 12, so we progressed to the knockout stage.
After a quick break for lunch, we drew Manor Lodge School in the quarter-final. We opened the scoring mid-way through the game when a free kick from Lochy was headed in by Jude at the back post. Our goal wasn’t particularly threatened apart from a few isolated counter attacks, before one of our own counters produced a shot that was followed in by Rocco to complete the 2-0 win to send us through to the semi-final.
We came up against Hoe Bridge School from Woking who proved to be our toughest opposition of the day up to that point. It was a game with few opportunities, but we perhaps felt fortunate not to concede and ended up going to penalties after a 0-0 draw. Jude and Lochy showed real courage to step up and score the first 2 penalties for us. Henry managed to save their second penalty, meaning that Harry’s converted penalty that followed sent us through to the final.
Unfortunately, we were faced with a Westbrook Hay side that had just demolished their semi-final opponents 5-0 and tired legs were starting to show coming off the back of a semi-final that went to extra time. We kept them out for most of the game but a deflected shot that went in off the post with a couple of minutes to go was enough to see them over the line and we lost 1-0.
To finish as runners-up in the national finals is an unbelievable effort from all the boys involved, and they should all be incredibly proud of what we have achieved as a group.
Reported By Luke Sutcliffe
“To get to the finals is one achievement but to go all the way to the final of the Cup competition is testament to the strength of our football at The Beacon. In the top two out of 700 IAPS schools – fantastic effort boys!” Mr Baker – Headmaster