On Wednesday 23rd January the Kings Hawford U11 football team competed in the annual Matthew Thacker Shield tournament that is held every year in memory of the year 6 child from Winterfold School whom the shield is named after. The tournament is a major event in the local independent school sports calendar with 13 schools competing from across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire.
Hawford were placed on the tougher side of the draw in a group against five highly competitive sides. In matches of only 10 minutes long, the boys approached the tournament with an awareness of the importance of scoring the first goal. First up Hawford faced Beaudesert School and took an early lead when Leo Cunningham netted from close range. A second half Noah Dupont strike completed a 2-0 victory and an excellent start to the afternoon. Another Leo Cunningham goal was enough to see off Wolverhampton Grammar School 1-0 in the second group match. Next up for Kings Hawford was a huge match against our Kings Worcester foundation rivals Kings St Albans. The defensive composure of pairing Donal Clason and George Kirkham coupled with tenacious midfield play from Max Copeman, George Tonkinson and Alex Probert set the foundations for an excellent 2-0 victory with Probert getting the first before Leo Cunningham added another to his tally. An outstanding headed finish from Toby Cunningham and a fourth goal of the afternoon for brother Leo Cunningham were enough to secure 1-0 victories over both Hereford Cathedral School and Warwick Prep in the remaining two group matches. Five wins from five in the group, secured Hawford’s place in the semi-finals as group winners.
The semi-final saw Hawford matched up against a very physically imposing Bluecoat side. In a highly competitive encounter Hawford stood up to the physical challenge and enjoyed the majority of possession and goal scoring opportunities. Despite this, the goal in normal time alluded the boys and they faced the drama of a penalty shootout. Successful penalties from Noah Dupont, Toby Cunningham and Donal Clason were accompanied by two outstanding penalty saves from impressive keeper Will Thorp to provide George Tonkinson with the opportunity to convert his penalty and send Hawford through to the final. George didn’t disappoint as he excellently slotted the ball in to the bottom left hand corner under great pressure.
The experience of penalty shoot out victory did much to boost team spirit and the Hawford boys approached the final against Warwick Prep with a clear focus and determination to finish the job. Hawford started at an excellent pace and intensity and came close on a number of occasions in the first half. Alex Probert saw a fine goal disallowed at the end of the half as the central timed buzzer sounded as the ball was moments from hitting the back of the net. Rather than feeling aggrieved by this, Hawford took encouragement from their half time team talk and dominated the second half, creating a number of chances. Two minutes from the end Noah Dupont wrapped up the afternoon with a stunning strike worthy of winning any tournament. He shifted the ball on to his right foot before firing it home from 20 yards.
The Hawford boys were outstanding all afternoon with every boy playing his part. The most impressive statistic of the afternoon was that Hawford goalkeeper Will Thorp was not beaten in open play all afternoon. An excellent team effort in defence to not concede a goal in seven matches. We would like to thank Winterfold School for hosting an excellent afternoon of football.
Mr. Hodgkins, Director of Sport.