PHSFA Girls v Festival
Our first competitive girls football of the year saw us go over to Hamworthy United and play in a 7 a side festival against Gryphon and QE school. We played each time twice in games that consisted of 15 minutes. In our games against Gryphon school, we won the first game 2-0 and drew the second game 1-1. Gryphon employed quite a direct approach with some strong girls throughout their team but with our solid back line of Paige, Alicia, Coral and Mel taking it in turns; the trickery in midfield of Millie, Jasmine and Izzy, and the quality upfront of Josie we matched them for character and our added quality on the ball saw us undefeated in these two fixtures. Against QE we won our first game 1-0 and drew our second game 3-3. This was a more frustrating game as it was our turn to be the dominant attacking team and put the opposition under pressure who defended resolutely and made it for two tough games. However, with 2 wins and 2 draws the girls came out on top overall and each received a prize of a football as we tasted victory at the first time of asking.
PHSFA v Thomas Hardye
For the boys first game of the season this was a bit of a baptism of fire against a side who would go on to do great things this season. On top of that the team chemistry was clearly lacking and we rarely had any fluency to our game and in doing so we fell to a 5-2 defeat, which, although gave us a mountain to climb in the newly formatted Dorset U19 league designed to mimoli ic a Champions League format, also gave us lots of things to work on. Our goals came from Oli Lowes and and Oscar Gorman.
PHSFA B v Bishops Wordsworth B
The first National Cup game came for the B team in the ESFA B team cup at home to Bishops Wordsworth. A year previously we had been soundly beaten in the same competition at Bishops Wordsworth but we were confident that our overall squad was stronger this year and so came into this game with some positivity. A strong start from our opponents gave us a scare at the beginning of the game but after 15 minutes we made the breakthrough against the run of play. Charlie Shears scored our first and from then on we seemed to have the Midas touch as everything we hit seemed to fly into the back of the net. The game overall remained fairly even but we ended up running out as 6-0 winners with Charlie Shears scoring a famous five, along an absolute screamer from Jacob Daniels from 25 yards into the top corner. Victory saw us progress into the last 16 of the competition with a game against Torquay School at home to come.
PHSFA v Corfe Hills
Our next game saw the A team play their second league group game against Corfe Hills. Also due to us being drawn against Corfe Hills in the County Cup last 16, we decided to use the game as a double header in terms of result so it made this one even more crucial. Defeat would see us knocked out of the county cup and also make qualification in our group almost impossible. Having defended with all the characteristics of an old and worn sieve in the last game against Thomas Hardye it took a monumental effort from our back four as colossal performances from Sam Hepburn and Ryan Sadler in particular, meant that we kept Corfe at bay. It was a physical game on a horrible afternoon but the lads dealt with the pressure well. It took until 10 minutes into the second half before the deadlock was broken. A corner was delivered into the box and while everyone seemed to watch it go past them Ryan Sadler coolly sidefoot volleyed the ball into the bottom corner to give us a much needed goal. The boys then grew in confidence and Sam Herrington, our captain marvel on the day, stood over a free kick 25 yards from goal and curled a delightful shot over the wall and into the top corner past the despairing dive of the goalkeeper. More fantastic defending saw us gain our first clean sheet of the season and we progressed to the quarter finals of the county cup and got off the mark in our group.
PHSFA B v Torquay Academy B
Thankfully we were drawn at home to Torquay Academy in the last 16 of the ESFA B Schools cup. Having done some research on our opponents we knew that their first team was the actual Torquay United youth team so we knew this would be a tough encounter. And so it proved. Our boys never relented from the challenge but it was always an uphill task and we fell to a heavy 6-0 defeat, being a complete reverse of our previous rounds score so at least we could say that over the two rounds we played, the aggregate score was 6-6!
PHSFA v Bishops Wordsworth
One day after we had played our B team game against Torquay Academy we travelled to play Bishops Wordsworth in the National Schools Cup. Having arrived at school on the Wednesday morning, whatever could go wrong did. We had 6 players who either couldn't play or were ill. We had to draft in some of the lads who had played a full game just 24 hours before and even then we had to go with only 11 players. We thought about calling it off but as there is nothing more annoying than having a game cancelled on the day we took the moral decision to fulfil the fixture. We had more people out of place than a group of honest intelligent people who had mistakenly wandered into the House of Commons and it proved to be a disaster. After going 1-0 down early we gave ourselves some hope when Oscar Gorman headed in an equaliser, but unfortunately that was where the positivity ended. A very disjointed and disappointing performance saw us fall to our heaviest defeat of the season as goal after goal went in and we ended up on the wrong end of an 8-1 defeat. We also knew that we had been drawn against the same school, for the third time this season, in the National Elite cup so we knew that with a full squad it would be a different story.
PHSFA Girls v Millfield
After Frome pulled out of the round 1 fixture for the second year running, lightning struck not twice but 4 times as our next opponents, as per last year as well, were the Juggernaut school of Millfield. At the same stage last year our girls went to Millfield, with a rapidly growing girls football contingent, and won comprehensively 11-1. However, following a second friendly last year that ended in a draw we knew they would be vastly improved and so it proved. In a tight first half our girls edged ahead with goals from midfield general Danie Nutt and all action striker Jess McDonagh giving us a 2-1 half time lead. However, the second half was a masterclass from our girls as they ran, passed and outfought our determined opponents with goals flying in everywhere. Further strikes from Jess McDonagh, Millie Nieman, Josie Stephenson, Lara Murry and Izzy Jackopson counteracted two goals conceded as we ran out 7-3 winners in a thriller and progressed to the last 16 of the National cup for the second year running.
PHSFA v Bishops Wordsworth
Having beaten Bishops Wordsworth heavily in the National B team cup and then losing heavily in the National Schools cup, we came across each other for the third time in the last 32 of the National Elite cup. This time we had an almost full strength line up minus our talisman Oli Lowes who was recovering from an operation having a pin out of his ankle. The game itself was a classic. The previous year we had come from a man down and a goal down to beat the same opposition at the same stage and this day proved just as dramatic. We conceded the first goal and concerns grew in the back of the mind that it might be another tough afternoon, but the lads had other ideas. In a game full of quality and endeavour the teams exchanged goals back and forth. We were 2-1 up thanks to goals from Herrington and Gorman and were pegged back again to 2-2. A brilliant goal from one of drafted in year 11's, Cam Munn, saw us go 3-2 up with just 5 minutes to play and the boys saw glory in sight. Bishops Wordsworth had other ideas though as we conceded an unfortunate equaliser with just 1 minute left. Incredibly though worse was to come and with seconds remaining the Bishops Wordsworth forward and man of the match, burst down the left and unleashed a piledriver that was too hot for our goalkeeper Bailey to handle and somehow we had lost the game in the last seconds. The lads deserved so much more though and could be more than proud of their performance.
PHSFA Girls v Festival
We played football. We won.
PHSFA v Bishop of Winchester
We travelled to Bishop of Winchester for our final group game needing a win to confirm our passage through to the quarter finals. With some key players missing, On a pitch with more bobbles than a Winter hat shop, we started dreadfully as we conceded two goals within the first 10 minutes of the game, giving ourselves a mountain to climb again. However the boys gradually found a way back into the game with Kordys and Shears battling valiantly up top and we got a vital goal back before half time as Shears pounced on a loose ball to rifle it past the keeper and give us some hope going into the second half. Going up the hill in increasingly wet and blustery conditions, it took us a while to get going again but in the end it took a wonder strike to get us level. Shears picked the ball up on the right hand side about 30 yards from goal and hit an audacious effort that flew over the keepers head and into the roof of the net to make it 2-2 with 10 minutes to go. With the added bonus of having Oli Lowes back for his first outing since his operation we threw him on for the last 10 minutes, not willing to risk him for any more than that, and hoped he would have an impact. We weren't to be disappointed. Within minutes he had jinked his way past 2 players before getting chopped down in the area for a penalty. He dusted himself off to take responsibility, which was ballsy as he had missed his last 3 for all teams and he didn't disappoint as he missed again with an uncharacteristic scuffed effort. Just when it seemed we would have to settle for a draw, although the defence were colossal in stopping each wave of attack from our opponents, we managed to turn the tables on previous last minute defeats and experience the joy of a late winner. After pulling his sleeves up and putting the penalty miss behind him, Lowes picked the ball up on the right wing. He beat one, he beat two, he even beat a third defender and as the remaining opponents all went to shut him down he laid the ball off to Jordan Thornton-Dibben who took a touch and just as the ball threatened to get away from him, he stuck out his left leg and guided a pea roller into the corner of the net to spark rapturous celebrations. We held on for a 3-2 win and progressed through our group in second place to qualify for the quarter finals.
PHSFA Girls v Commonweal School
After the girls saw off Millfield in the last round, lightning was to strike yet again as we entertained Commonweal school for the second year running in the last 16. Commonweal are associated with Swindon Town ladies and the year previously had proved far too strong for us so we made sure the girls were prepared mentally for what was going to be a tough test. The girls put up an admirable fight but the academy girls from Commonweal yet again proved too strong as we fell to a 9-1 defeat, which was at least an improvement on last year's 12-1 loss. The girls could be very proud yet again to reach the last 16 in a National competition and they will only get better.
PHSFA v Sherborne
We treated the lads in our County Cup quarter final as we played against Sherborne at Hamworthy United's ground. The bigger and flatter pitch made for some expansive football played by both sides, which suited both teams in terms of getting the ball down. Sherborne are a developing school in terms of football and put in a performance that could be best described by a word used on their website to describe a fencing performance, which was swashbuckling. Our lads had greater experience and guile though and this just about saw us through. We opened the scoring through an unlikely route in Charlie Shears. Not unlikely because it was our top scorer Charlie, but because it was with a bullet header that our slightly diminutive striker rarely scores. Even better was that he was our only attacker in the box so for Jordan Thornton-Dibben to find him, and with Charlie's excellent movement getting in between the centre backs, it made the goal even more special. Sherborne then missed a gilt edged opportunity to level it up with their striker who was a constant menace all game but sadly couldn't finish a roast dinner, missing from six yards out with the goal at his mercy. Poole High then went two ahead with a contender for goal of the season. Some delightful one touch interplay between Herrington, Lowes, Hacker and Shears saw Lowes carry on his run into the box to get on the end of an inch perfect through ball and he produced a sublime dinked finish to see us go 2-0 up. The second half was a more scrappy affair and it was a case of game management for us. The last 5 minutes saw us under the cosh and after repelling numerous attacks, Sherborne got a deserved goal with seconds remaining, but a consolation was all it proved to be as we triumphed 2-1 and advanced to the County Cup semi finals.
PHSFA v Highcliffe
Windier than a person suffering with IBS after a bowlful of baked beans, meant that our league quarter final against Highcliffe was never going to be pretty. Highcliffe had progressed through a group containing Twynham and Bournemouth and Poole college so we knew they would provide a stiff test. After a bright opening from our opponents we gradually grew into the game. It took a large slice of luck to open the scoring though as Jordan Thornton-Dibben hit a slightly miskewed cross from 30 yards out into the box which caught the wind and flew over the keepers head. Highcliffe then equalised soon after in equally fortuitous circumstances as football turned into pinball, almost as if they had Rick O'Chet playing up front and the ball fell kindly to their striker who finished it off convincingly. This seemed to spur our boys on more than anything though and we had a last 15 minute purple patch where everything we seemed to hit flew in to the net. Firstly Sam Herrington picked the ball up 20 yards from goal, manipulated it on to his weaker right foot/swinger and he buried a shot into the bottom corner to restore our advantage. Our centre back Ryan Sadler then found himself in a right wing position and produced a trademark Hollywood moment that actually came off as he danced around the left back before delivering an inch perfect cross on to the head of Oscar Gorman who made no mistake from 6 yards. The half was finished off perfectly as with a minute to go, Charlie Shears chased a long through ball, outpaced and outstrengthed the defenders and delivered a sublime lobbed finish over the keeper and into the net to make the half time score a flattering 4-1 to us but provided a good cushion to defend in the second half. The second half was less incident filled which suited us fine. A brilliant advantage from the referee (me) allowed Poole High to get the ball through to Colby Wood who scored his first A team goal and all but ended the contest. Other than a goal conceded towards the end and a few feisty moments, mainly involving Sam Hepburn who was the recipient of a couple of overzealous challenges, we saw it out comfortably and progressed to our second semi-final. A great achievement for a squad that at the start of the year had struggled.
PHSFA v Twynham
Heartbreak. In footballing terms that was the one word that summed up this game. Upon arrival at Twynham we fought the wind towards the pitch in the open field and just as got there, the fire alarm went off. Obviously they had heard about Shears' scoring record and were trying to extinguish him. Following a slight delay the match began with a howling wind blowing diagonally across the pitch. As too often before we struggled to get going quickly and had to see out a spell under the cosh. However in our first real attack of the game, Herrington fed the ball through to Lowes who finished confidently to put us 1-0 up slightly against the run of play. After defending so well for so long it took a poor goal to get things level as a hopeful free kick was pumped straight into our box and the lads all left it for each other. Sadly 5 Twynham players were the only ones to react with one of them producing the necessary finish to level the scores. Our goalkeeper Bailey Middleton then produced a brilliant save to palm away a deflected free kick and Lowes had a shot cleared off the line with some suspicious use of an arm not seen by the referee. 1-1 at half time and all to play for. A nondescript second half meant that scores were still locked with 12 minutes to play until a bit of magic by that man Lowes again. The ball was laid back to him on the right wing and with options seemingly at little or none, he whipped in a devilish shot that with some wind assistance flew over the slightly vertically challenged opposition keeper and into the far corner to put us on the verge of a County Cup final. With 6 minutes to go we were so close until another terrible and uncharacteristic bit of defending spelt catastrophe. We switched off from a corner which was taken short. The first ball was dealt with but the Twynham right winger was allowed past three soft challenges and delivered a ball into the middle where their striker was all alone amongst 5 defenders who hadn't picked him up and he volleyed in for an equaliser. With extra time looming, the watch beeped to signal time just about being up and we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as a hopeful long ball wasn't dealt with and the Twynham striker was allowed to run in and lob Bailey to win it for them with seconds remaining, sparking pitch invasion from opposite players, supporters and even their coach which was interesting in school football. Defeat and exit from the County Cup was tough to take when the boys deserved so much more.
PHSFA v Thomas Hardye
Our second semi-final in a week saw us play National Cup quarter finalists Thomas Hardye in the league semi-finals. Having lost heavily to this team earlier in the season, we knew we needed a big performance to compete with them. Guess what? We didn't start particularly well and Thomas Hardye had three chances within the first 5 minutes which Bailey Middleton dealt with brilliantly. Unfortunately the fourth was too hot to handle as their striker unleashed a thunderous early shot that Bailey was unprepared for and we found ourselves with another mountain to climb. I mean throughout this season these boys have faced more mountains than celebrities for Comic Relief. We had to stay in the game and the rest of the half went by without any more goal mouth action. The message at half time was that we were still in the game and anything could still happen. A brilliant defensive performance with more attacking impetus gave us hope. Sadly one switch off saw us go 2-0 down but the boys didn't give up. We were awarded a penalty with 20 minutes to go after a grab on Charlie Shears and Sam Herrington confidently fired it into the left corner to get us right back in it. We just needed one chance to fall our way while Hepburn and Sadler defended resolutely against their dangerous attackers. Lowes had a half chance as a short corner was worked into the area and he hit a sweet left footed strike that was heading to glory but sadly got blocked and it saw our final chance dwindle away as we ended up losing in a valiant 2-1 defeat. It was a day where boys became men but sadly we fell just short at the semi-final stage again and a deserved final occasion was missed out on.