St George's football tournament

London A76

During the Easter break the MPW football team enjoyed a fine day out at the annual CIFE Tournament at St George’s Park, the FA’s flagship training centre in Burton-On-Trent.

Now in its fourth year, the tournament saw seven teams travel from around the country to take part in an energetic day of short, intense games. The format of the event involved seven-a-side teams competing in a round-robin stage, with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals before the final.

MPW’s day began with a tough encounter against Brookhouse, the winners of last year’s tournament. The game almost began in the perfect fashion for MPW but Giacomo could not quite finish a flowing team move. The well-drilled Brookhouse looked always looked threatening and were able to exploit any frailties in the MPW defence. Sharp finishing from Brookhouse was the difference as they ran out 3-0 winners.

The team’s next game was against fellow London team Collingham. The game started brightly as Giacomo put MPW in front, as he reacted first to a long throw to prod home, but Collingham struck back to level the scores. As the game progressed Collingham used the ball better and began applying pressure to the MPW defence. MPW keeper Roman was in fine form, making several crucial saves, but he could do nothing about Collingham’s second as they took the three points.

MPW bounced back from those set backs to register a 3-0 victory in their third game against Bosworth. Eduardo fired in two quick goals and Charlie turned in a clever team move to make the game safe, but slack passing meant that Bosworth also had chances to score, and only another solid performance from Roman kept them at bay.

Next up was MPW Birmingham, who had started the tournament strongly. For a second game running, MPW London were unable to string passes together and maintain possession, and so always seemed like they were chasing the game. Despite seeing little of the ball, MPW London did create the best chances of the match but were denied by fine goalkeeping and wayward shooting. Sharper finishing was the difference as Birmingham ran out 2-0 winners.

Cambridge-based CCSS were MPW’s fifth opponents. The team made much better use of the ball in this game which allowed them far more time and space to play flowing, attacking football. Kur in particular threatened to score, testing the CCSS keeper on several occasions. CCSS too were desperate for a goal to stand a chance of staying in the tournament and struck the woodwork on several occasions. Despite the entertaining football on display, neither team could break the deadlock and the game ended all square at 0-0.

The draw meant that MPW’s place in the semi finals hinged on their final game against familiar league rivals Ashbourne. Victory would secure their berth in the next round and the game started in the perfect way, with Eduardo putting MPW in front early on, and a second was soon added to put MPW two up. Being the sixth game of the day, both teams began to tire and the game looked to be petering out, but somehow Ashbourne found an extra gear to claw a goal back and set up a tense finale. With almost the final move of the match a bizarre mix up in the MPW defence saw the ball deflect off Giacomo and loop over Roman to level the scores. That goal, coupled with other results, meant that MPW narrowly missed out on the knockout stages by a single point.

The final was contested by the two strongest teams of the day – Brookhouse and MPW Birmingham - and it was Brookhouse who lifted the trophy, winning in style (4-0) to retain their crown. Overall, the event was better organised than last year, with longer matches and clearer scoring systems. Despite not reaching the final four this year, the MPW London team travelled south proud of some creditable and sporting performances and for holding their own against tough opponents.

Roy Ashman