Nine lads across Years 7-9 travelled to the Wolverhampton Wanderers stadium, Molineux, to take part in the Mander Centre Annual Football Tournament on Friday 19th May.

With 14 teams there, Smestow were placed in Group A alongside Coppice, St Chad’s, Thorns, NEWA and Colton Hills. The first game came was against Colton Hills and it was a great start to the tournament.

Seven-a-side matches meant that the games were only eight minutes long so it was crucial that you took advantage of any chance at goal you got. Jack Walters did exactly that by firing a low free kick past the keeper after five minutes of the first match to get the tournament off to the perfect start.

The next two games were against Coppice and Thorns, both replicas of each other with two 0-0 draws being the outcome. All three teams were very evenly matched throughout the games and nothing could separate Smestow and the two other schools in both matches.

Very few chances for both, but Brandon Manboard did pull off one crucial save in the game against Coppice to secure an important point.

The penultimate match of the group came against St Chad’s, when the opposition took an early lead. It was then all Smestow for the remaining six minutes – the boys had more shots in this game then they did in the whole tournament. The woodwork was hit twice, once by Josh Cooke with an excellent header from a long throw-in which looked certain for the top corner but somehow hit the bar and stayed out.

Jyoti Vusal, one of two Year 7s involved in the tournament, went very close with a shot from outside the box towards the end of the match. How the boys lost this match was beyond Mr Webb and all of the boys, and this meant unfortunately that the boys would not qualify for the final as you had to finish top of your group to do so with only two groups in the tournament.

The final game of the tournament came against NEWA and the boys ended the tournament well. There was only going to be one winner from kick off in this one with chance after chance for the Smestow lads.

Josh Cooke finally got the crucial goal who poked home from a bit of a goal mouth scramble. By doing so, it meant that the boys finished second in the group behind the Coppice who won the final of the tournament.

The Smestow team on the Wolves turf.

The boys should be extremely proud of their efforts, especially as when they played Coppice in the group there was nothing between the two meaning that just a bit of bad luck against St Chad’s was the difference between second in the group and a place in the final.

Even though the tournament was Years 7-9 and other schools took majority of year 9s, Mr Webb took two year 7 boys and three year 8 boys because he knew that they had the quality to match it with the Year 9s and he wasn’t wrong.

Yahya Muhammed and Jyoti Vusal from Year 7 should be very proud of their performances on the day showing that they have more than enough to match up to players one or two years above them.

Year 8s of Connor Parker, Josh Cooke and Lucas Westwood are not short of quality and showed this throughout the tournament with top class performances from each.

Finally the Year 9s that led the team and acted like true role models were Brandon Manboard, Joe Dunston, Ryan Witter-Gilpin and Jack Walters who all performed to their full potential on the day. The team were very unlucky on the day but it puts all the boys in good shape for any future small-sided tournaments as this was a valuable experience for all involved.