Sherwood Primary school represented Preston North End in the Kinder+Sport Kids Cup regional finals in Crewe on Thursday [12th March] and certainly did themselves proud.
Having missed out of the opportunity last year by losing in the Northern area final to Notts County, Sherwood were determined to try and put things right.
The Cup starts with teams divided into groups, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the knock-out stages.
They made the perfect start, beating Port Vale 3-0 with two goals from PNE academy players Charlie and Reece.
The second game was the performance of the day, some superb build up play from the back and 1-2 touch football helped PNE to a 3-1 win over Doncaster.
Next up was Scunthorpe, and it proved a trickier task but the lads secured the win, again with some fantastic combination play that thoroughly deserved the applause from spectators.
With results going their way, PNE knew that a win against Rochdale would secure their place in the Semi Finals with a group game to spare. However, the lads also knew that Rochdale had been playing well and expected a tough game.
The fast pace of the earlier games were beginning to take their toll on the boys and the tempo was a little slower, nevertheless a superb corner routine allowed Charlie to score a header and take 3 points and PNE through to the Semi Finals.
The final group game was against Oldham, who needed a result to join PNE in the next round. With energy levels a real concern now for the team, PNE adopted a different formation in the hope of conserving some energy for the knock out stages. In a stop start game, PNE were happy with a point 0-0 that sealed their place at the top of group 1.
PNE were drawn against Crewe in the Semi Finals, the winner of which would play the winner of Fleetwood Town and Oldham.
Throughout the group stages, PNE hadn’t been troubled and only conceded one goal. Their style of playing out from the back, keeping the ball on the floor and playing 1-2 touch football was unique and had proven to be the difference. It had also earned a lot of positive feedback from opposition coaches and parents.
In the Semi Final, Crewe dominated the first half. Unlike PNE they played the ball long from the back, but once in possession were a very tidy outfit.
The energy levels for the PNE boys were rapidly declining but following a pep talk at half time, they went back out in a determined mood and kept the ball a lot better, spent most of the second period in the opposition half and created a host of chances that they were unable to convert. The game ended 0-0 and would cruelly be decided on penalties.
Crewe won on penalties 3-2 and it would be heartbreak yet again for Sherwood, whos brand of football had earned all the plaudits on the day, but had just run out of gas towards the end of the day.
It was a similar story in the other semi; that finished 0-0 and was decided on penalties. Fatigue was playing a part in both semi-finals and for a second year running it looked like the most athletic team would grind their way to victory.
A huge well done to all the players and coach Mr Whelan from Sherwood who were a credit to the club, played football the right way and even got over their bitter disappointment of losing by showing great character and watching the final.”