“Sprites” Review – April 2021
A Great Return To Action: Sunday 11th April – Away to Corfe Mullen (4-0)
Superb return to action with a 4-0 away win against one of the leagues toughest opposition. The game started in bizarre fashion, with a snowstorm starting just after kick off but then baking sunshine by half time.
The victory was based on a solid central defence partnership and a midfield three of Dan Cox, Ollie Marshall and Luke Shearer winning every battle.
An adjustment was then made to the formation and provided instant success.
Dan Leagas and Jude Read were deployed as wingers, both grabbing goals and Dan providing assists. Lewis Ratcliffe was moved up front and grabbed two goals, totally justifying the selection.
General fitness and sharpness was at a very high level, considering the break prior to game, and from a coaches perspective we couldn’t be happier. With the adjusted formation, the signs for the coming weeks are very positive.
What A Way To Celebrate Our First Match At LSG: Sunday 18th April – Home to Kings Park Dynamos (8-0)
For our first ever home game at the sports ground, the weather was fantastic and the pitch looked amazing.
We started the day on the back foot after losing Lewis Ratcliffe due to calf injury he had picked up in training, following an impressive striker performance in the previous match. We also lost defender Bailey Coleman to a back injury.
Never the less, the team put on a powerful performance. Luke Shearer scored with a superb strike from distance within the first 5 minutes and that set the tone for the remainder. This was followed by goals from Jude (5), another from Luke and Dan Leagas late from a corner.
The deployment of Dan and Jude to the wings was again proving a major asset to the team.
Ollie Dixon took his opportunity up front and put in a 10/10 performance, providing excellent link play with the wingers and central midfield pair, undoubtedly having his best game of the season.
Sonny Kerrigan made his return after a long time out injured and proved a major boost for the squad.
James Collison captained the side of the first time after being an enormous presence in central defence. Congratulations to James and a special thank you Dan Cox who had worn the armband on many occasions this season. The pair are both leaders and have represented Sprites with absolute commitment and professionalism. We are lucky to have them both within our group.
Include photos of – Ollie Dixon, Sonny Kerrigan, James Collison
A Tough Pitch But We Came Through It: Sunday 25th April – Away to Verwood (5-1)
Another away match and another victory. This game proved that the team are on a good run of form and are showing strength, resilience and really playing as a team.
The pitch was not in good condition and due to the lack of rain was hard to play on, with the bounce of the ball proving deceptive. This didn’t deter the boys at all.
This was a hard fought game with tempers tested at times but we kept our heads and let our football dictate the result.
The goals came from the wings again with Dan Leagas and Jude Read weighing in with a brace each. Luke Shearer provided the other goal and proved that his develop in central midfield is progressing well, with his partner in crime Ollie Marshall complementing him perfectly. The pair have shown that their tenacity and fighting spirit have been a major factor to this season’s success.
A True Performance Of Patience and Maturity: Sunday 25th April – Away to West Moors (3-0)
This game was pleasing from a coach’s perspective for reasons the players may not have understood. We came into the game with spirts high and in all honesty expected a good result. The first half performance was excellent but the goals did not come. This proved to be a test mentally for the team. At half-time, the coaching team asked for cool heads and patience and the team delivered.
Goals in the second half from Jude Read, Lewis Ratcliffe and Luke Shearer were reward for the consistency of performance and attitude. A team that have matured together and stick together well.
Lewis Ratcliffe made his return from injury and showed he hadn’t lost any pace or desire and was rewarded with his goal.
Aran Coles was deployed in a defensive midfield role, following the loss of Dan Cox, a position he had never played before. He took the opportunity and put in an educated performance, showing he was constantly thinking about his positional play and keeping everything simple. Very assured and impressive performance from him.
So four games since returning from lockdown. Four wins, twenty goals scored and only one conceded (which was a penalty). The entire squad deserve credit for these statistics. This can be epitomised by Jamie Butcher who is often asked to play in a variety of positions. Although not always in the starting 11, he commits to the team, never complains and always gives 100% when asked. A quiet member of the squad but a vital component.
Previous Table Pre Lockdown#3- update DEC 2020.
Sprites Review #2 – U14’s December 2020
So we finally return to action after the National Lockdown 2 with three fixtures in December and with the team sitting second in the league and only three points separating the top four teams.
MOSYFC Away – Sunday 6th December
A huge game for our first match back after lockdown. Local rivals and close league opponents Milford would prove a good test with the build up to the game being full of rivalry at school. The team only had the opportunity for one training session before the fixture, having been kept apart for a month due to Government pandemic restrictions, and had to contend with bad weather conditions during that session.
Unfortunately, the lack of preparation time showed within the performance. We were flat and obviously affected by the build-up of a ‘local derby’ occasion. Injuries to midfielders Dan Cox (ankle) and Dan Leagas (hand and knee) did not help matters.
The game was played at a good pace, with both teams applying themselves physically. An early goal for Milford was followed by an equaliser just after half time in the shape of a penalty, which was converted by Jude Read (photo).
Lewis Ratcliffe (photo), new to the team, had impressed on the right hand side of midfield and was brought down after a powerful run into the opposition penalty area. December proved a good month for Lewis, improving with each match played.
Milford stole a second half winner after the Sprites defence could not cope with the physical presence of the Milford forward line. A muted performance but hardly unexpected after a month of being isolated from one another. An afternoon to forget.
Greenfield away – Sunday 13th December
After the disappointment of the previous weekend, it was time to change a few things. A more structured approach to training, a new formation and a back-to-basics attitude. The coaching team decided to stick with a standard 4-4-2 formation moving forward and to make a major positional change by moving Dan Leagas in from the wing to play as a main striker, to add some much needed physical presence and pace to assist a forward line that had become isolated.
The opposition had been weakened by a number of last minute player pull-outs and this aided our cause by allowing us to bed in the new formation and give the entire squad minutes on the pitch.
The team looked refreshed and managed to achieve an 8-0 victory in a very one-sided match, in very cold and wet conditions. Dan Leagas (photo) justified his selection as striker by scoring 4 goals, 2 of which were impressive volleys.
Right-back Calum Burns (photo) also managed to get on the score sheet, which I think took most of us by surprise. The celebrations said it all.
Bailey Coleman (photo) also completed his first full match of the season and is looking stronger and fitter with each game he plays, adapting to playing at both centre back and full back.
The result took us back to joint top of the league and restored some dented pride.
Bransgore Away – Sunday 20th December
The final match before Christmas against a club we always enjoy playing against. This was a good match for the coaches to observe and see how our recent changes were developing. There were many positives. The new striker partnership is developing really well, defensively we are both compact and solid, and our wingers are getting more involved in the game by providing additional defensive cover when needed.
Jude Read looked lively from the first whistle and got his rewards by bagging a hat trick, including two goals with his head that seemed to surprise him somewhat. Lewis Ratcliffe continued his fine form by getting his first goal for the club and providing one assist from a superb cross.
The defensive team also deserve praise for securing a second clean sheet in a row, with goalkeeper Arran Small (photo) and James Collison (photo) organising the back line superbly.
Our match was the only BYFL Under14s fixture on the 20th. It had been provided as an additional fixture date to make up for weekends lost during the lockdown period. The top four all started the day on 19 points, so we now move 3 points clear although the other three teams have games in hand on us. Many would say it is better to have the points rather than matches spare. Only time will tell.
Sprites Review #1 – U14’s October/November 2020
It has been a very exciting start to the season for the Sprites Under 14’s team. The first five fixtures were all wins including away victories against Burton Albion and home victories against Hordle Spurs, Greenfields and Bransgore.
The fifth victory came in a home clash with Poole Town Youth, where both teams went into the match with 100% records. We came away with a 2-0 score line following a very tight and well fought out contest.
The following match ended up in a 3-2 loss, again against Burton Albion at home, where a combination of a slow start and a small amount of complacency resulted in our first loss of the season. The following weekend we recovered within a superb performance away to Poole Town Youth. Again, another hard fought match and had it not been for an unfortunate penalty miss, we would have picked up all three points. A satisfying 0-0 draw showed that the weekend before had just been a blip.
This year the spine of our team has been consistent and strong. The central defence and central midfield areas have excelled, in addition to multiple wing and attacking options. The team have bonded superbly after the merger of the two U13 teams into one squad as we prepare the squad over the next four seasons for open age football. The whole squads attitude is focused on performing well and getting success this season.
The team remain top of the BYFL Under 14s Division 6 league table on goal difference, with Milford-on-Sea, Poole Town Youth and Corfe Mullen United all within three points. It is going to be a tough but very exciting season ahead.
Manager – Andrew Leagas
Coach – Jason Read
League Table @ 20 NOV 2020