IHMFA at Ellesmere – 0
Merchant Taylor – 1

Date: Wednesday 20th September 2023
Venue: Home
Competition: ISFA U18’s Cup
IH Manchester football academy man of the match: Major Evans

It was a second defeat in 3 days for the IHM Football Academy at Ellesmere College in their opening game in the Independent School’s Football Association U18’s cup.

In a competition which the home side excelled in last season with a fantastic cup run, this season it seemed that the first fixture came a little bit too early in the campaign. Circumstance conspired to prevent the Ellesmere players coming out on top.

Despite the final score, the team did put in a good performance. However, having another key game so early in the season meant many players are still finding their feet in the team. The student players have only been together a week and a half, and so still miss that ruthless cutting edge in the final third of the match.

A dominant first half performance saw the home side put into action what they had previously learnt on the training pitch and patiently keep possession of the ball by building from the back. However, for all the good play they failed to break the deadlock and so both sides went into the halftime break all level.

The second half performance followed the first, with great build-up play, but lacking creativity in the final third. Midway through the second half, and against the run of play, a mazy dribble from the visitors’ midfield went unopposed, giving them time and space to slot the only goal of the game into the bottom corner. This sadly signalled the end of Ellesmere’s chance of a cup run in that particular competition.

The Ellesmere goalkeeper, Major Evans, was the home side’s standout player and Man of the Match, producing some great saves early on to keep the score level. Major builds on his previous successful seasons at the academy. Joining us back in October 2019, this makes him one of the senior players in the side, and during this cup tie he led by example.

Lead coach Brandon said about the performance:

“The result and the fact we’ve gone out of the competition so early is disappointing. There’s no doubt about that. We can use all the excuses of little time to prepare and new players in the side, all of which are true, but realistically that game was there for the taking.

We had most of the play and the chances to get ahead in the first half, but we just didn’t take them. The performance was good, there are areas we do need to work on, but it was a good performance and we can take a positive from that.

It is just frustrating when we know we could have got a better result. They (Merchant Taylors) were a good, hard-working side. They knew how to see a game out and disrupt our play. The lads got a little frustrated at that, but that’s football and that’s our learning curve.

We can build on it, we still have further ISFA competitions and I believe we can go on from this to have a successful run in one of those.”

The Ellesmere team don’t have much time to dwell on the result as they look towards their next league fixture next week where they will hopefully get off the mark with a win.