Fazeley Shield Champions 2018
The Shield comes home
Good Friday saw Wilnecote’s two goal hero Will Kerley win the Fazeley Shield in an epic encounter at the Lane.
The Easter eggs and Easter celebrations were all put on hold as The Wilnecote School continued it’s successful tradition in the areas most prestigious football cup competition by winning the Fazeley Shield 2-0 against local district rivals Rawlett with 2 goals from in-form striker Will Kerley in an entertaining encounter at New Mill Lane, home of Coton Green FC on Good Friday and regaining the title they last won in 2013.
The Fazeley Shield is one of the areas most coveted football competition’s and it’s beginnings originated in 1906 with the first winners ironically being The Wilnecote School and on Good Friday Wilnecote secured yet another Fazeley Shield title win 112 years from the first time they won it.
The Wilnecote team had been together as a team since 2013 and from their first game together in the English Schools cup competition away to Willenhall 5 years previous on a wet and windy Wednesday evening in September 2013 they had come a long way together having previously always being the bridesmaid and never the bride in terms of winning a major cup competition having been runners up in the county cup in 2015 and reaching the latter stages of the English schools FA competition it was last chance saloon for the boys in their final cup campaign together.
Having comfortably dispatching LFA QEMS in the semi-final the final was destined to be a stiffer encounter but preparation, togetherness and the experience of playing together over 5 seasons in the final was key to the success on the day.
Wilnecote aimed to dominate the game early in terms of both possession and territorial advantage and attempted to turn the Rawlett defence at every opportunity and look to progress and penetrate in the final third as effectively as possible. Out of possession you could see Wilnecote’s defensive organisation and on losing the ball in their own half Wilnecote recovered and put players behind the ball at every opportunity and as a result of being organised and compact it gave Rawlett no space or opportunity to build any worthwhile attacks.
As Wilnecote dictated play in and out of possession particularly in the midfield third, transitions and changes in possession within the game became important and the opening goal came from Wilnecote securing possession from a Rawlett forward in their own defensive third and a quick instinctive counter attack forward ball played into space from defender and captain Josh Russam in the channel between the Rawlett centre back and left back saw Will Kerley break free in to the Rawlett penalty box. Kerley’s first touch from the pass out of his feet angled his run towards goal and from 12 yards dispatched the ball clinically across the goalkeeper and opened Wilnecote’s account to make it 1-0 after approximately 15 minutes.
Rawlett struggled to get a significant foothold in the game and were reduced to just counter attacks that were quickly and efficiently dealt with by a commanding Wilnecote rear back four defensive unit who stifled the Rawlett attacks getting any momentum and any significant end product. The game continued in this vein for the next 10 to 15 minutes with Wilnecote having the lion’s share of possession and best territorial possession of the ball and more importantly dictating the physical areas of the game which allowed them their superior possession.
Wilnecote then undeniably produced the moment and team move of the match where they retained and built possession from midfield with several Wilnecote players involved and with one touch high tempo combination passing they managed to work the ball onto the left into space behind the Rawlett fullback and it was a square ball across the Rawlett 6 yard box that saw Will Kerley dispatch his and Wilnecote’s second goal and which was worthy of winning any football match and wouldn’t have been out of place as a clip on Match of the Day a truly fine team goal that had all the attributes of good attacking principles and a goal that makes the football known as the beautiful game.
The game then ebbed and flowed and was interspersed with general midfield battles and exchanges with neither team really producing any clear cut chances but with Wilnecote having the best opportunities and finished the half stronger with some long range shots that were narrowly wide of the Rawlett goal and that is how the half finished with Wilnecote the team clearly on top and taking a 2-0 advantage into half time and they were now only 40 minutes away from lifting a trophy they hadn’t won in 5 years.
“Fazeley Shield victory makes it Mr Mason’s third win in the competition after previously managing the winning sides with two other year 11 teams back in 2007 and 2013“
The second half saw a re-grouped and energised Rawlett side attempt to be more positive out of possession and attempt to win more individual battles on the pitch physically in attempt to wrestle superiority from Wilnecote in terms of possession. However this caused the game to be not as flowing as the first half and because of the number of fouls the game descended into a bit of a stop/start affair. Wilnecote had lost their passing rhythm slightly and the fluidity in which they passed in the first half was stifled from more physical play from Rawlett who were happy and content to concede fouls particularly when Wilnecote broke quickly with counter attacks. However the negative tactics saw Rawlett grow into the game and midway through the second half the ball broke wide for a Rawlett player who managed to win a 1v1 encounter with a Wilnecote defender and from a similar position that Will Kerley scored his first goal from, unluckily the Rawlett striker struck the bottom of the post as he shot across goalkeeper Max Miles’s goal only for the ball to be then scooped away to safety by the Wilnecote defence. The momentum had swung more towards Rawlett and a second opportunity presented itself to them from a corner they won but again the Rawlett player was guilty of squandering a good chance and from 8 yards out blazed over the bar when he really should have got his body over the ball and hit the target.
As fatigue set into the players the momentum then swung back to Wilnecote as they regained their shape and passing rhythm but a few cynical and frustrating challenges from the Rawlett players saw the game lose its energy and quality as tempers and frustrations crept into the Rawlett side. Wilnecote weathered the physical challenge well and Rawlett after their purple patch provided no more threat on the Wilnecote goal after that and in fact it was Wilnecote that provided the best chances in the latter stages of the second half and finish the stronger and only good handling and shot stopping by the Rawlett goalkeeper saw Wilnecote not add to their first half tally.
Wilnecote with good game management then controlled the game with the possession they had in the opening exchanges of the game and saw the game out 2-0 to be crowned very worthy winners of the Fazeley Shield and make it managers Mr Mason’s third win in the competition after previously winning it with two other year 11 teams back in 2007 and 2013 and this made it his third Fazeley Shield triumph.
The Wilnecote School will now be proud owners and be home to the coveted Fazeley Shield for the next year and will be proudly displayed and hung prominently in the school premises.