Bristol Manor Farm U18 produced one of their greatest performances in recent memory this week, as they blew away a game Clevedon Town U18 side in emphatic fashion to move top of the league, writes Aaron Brennan.
Having fallen to their first league defeat at the hands of Clevedon Town at The Creek last week, the Young Farmers were keen to strike back and from the opening whistle, there was a very different feel about this Manor Farm side. Hungry. Focused. Motivated.
The Young Farmers came storming out of the blocks and produced a devastating early spell of relentless attacking football to push Clevedon Town onto the back foot. In the 1st minute of the game, Lucas played in Jenkins, who’s strike forced a fine stop from the Clevedon Town goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, Turner evaded his marker and attempted a flick towards goal, but again, this was well saved. In the 3rd minute, the Young Farmers were awarded another corner when Lucas’ shot was well blocked. This time, from the in-swinging delivery, the Clevedon Town goalkeeper could only parry and Manor Farm made no mistake, when Ponsillo was quickest to react, firing the ball into the roof of the net to give his team the lead. 1-0 Manor Farm.
In the 24th minute, having weathered sustained pressure from Manor Farm, Clevedon Town had their opening chance of the game, when the oncoming full back whipped the ball into the box and when Allen’s 10-yard punch clearance fell to the Clevedon forward, he struck without hesitation and must have thought he had scored, but for Captain, Stenner, who made the crucial block to deny the hosts levelling. Following this opportunity, Turner led the Manor Farm counter and opted to strike, forcing another solid stop from the Home side’s goalkeeper.
For the next few minutes, the Clevedon Town midfield appeared to develop a foothold in the game, switching play and recycling the ball when necessary. On three separate occasions, the advancing Clevedon midfielder attempted to play in his team mate, seeking to exploit small pockets of space in between the Manor Farm centre back and full back. However, Jenkins and McCarthy were more than equal to this and did an outstanding job of staying tight to the opposition runners, neutralising the threat.
In the 30th minute, heavy pressure from the Young Farmers earned them a free kick, approximately 30 yards from the Clevedon Town goal. Jenkins delivered a deadly curling ball which Courtier got his foot on the end of, placing it beyond the Clevedon Town goalkeeper to double his team’s lead. The Young Farmers pumped up. Soper and Ponsillo rocking. That was big big goal, and as he has done so often in his young career, once again, Courtier delivered. 2-0.
Lucas was proving hugely influential for the Young Farmers. Out of possession, he was working incredibly hard to limit the time and space the opposition had on the ball and in possession, he was transitioning the ball quickly and effectively into his forward team mates. In the 34th minute, following a rebound from Turner’s free kick, Lucas opted to strike and with the ball rising, the Clevedon Town goalkeeper did exceptionally well to save.
For the next 10 minutes of the match, Jenkins and Ponsillo were on fire. They linked together exceptionally, reaping havoc in the final third, as they took the Clevedon back line into the deepest of waters. Phase after phase, the pair continually punched holes in the Clevedon Town defence and despite a Herculean effort from the home side to hold the pair off, they simply couldn’t withstand the pressure being applied and in the 45th minute, the Clevedon Town resistance was broken when Pollinger, who had been as dogged as ever, released the ball to the irrepressible Ponsillo, who weaved his way in between both Clevedon Town centre backs, before being brought down in the box. Penalty Manor Farm. Ponsillo made no mistake, hammering the ball into the top corner. The goalkeeper didn’t move. The Young Farmers rose as one. 3-0 Manor Farm at the break.
The beginning of the second half was much like the first. The Young Farmers moving the ball with a high tempo and committing to each phase of play intensely. The ever-dependable Tierney was very much in the mood and combined play along the flanks with some clever link play with his team mates in midfield to create overloads going forwards. He also did an excellent job of providing cover defensively when required. In the 51st minute, Manor Farm extended the lead further when a corner was turned home at the near post by Captain, Stenner. 4-0.
Just four minutes later, Andrews, who had been magnificent defensively and electric when moving the ball forwards too, used his pace to devastating effect, as he glided past the Clevedon Town full back, before squaring to Ponsillo. Ponsillo’s shot rattled the post, with Jenkins the quickest to react, as he headed home to increase his team’s lead further. 5-0.
For the next 20 minutes, Clevedon Town increased in numbers behind the ball and with the Young Farmers now seeking to break through a 9-man wall, it was going to take a little bit of magic to unlock the door. Right on cue, enter flamboyant baller, Thomas, who in the 68th minute, picked up the ball centrally and sent the Clevedon Town midfielder the wrong way with a dummy, before finding Mead through the narrowest of gaps between Clevedon Town full back and centre back. With Thomas’ pass completely outmanoeuvring the Clevedon Town players in front of him, Mead drove into space and crossed the ball to the unmarked Andrews, who tapped in to make it 6-0 and round off an absolutely sensational performance from the Young Farmers.
Manager, Soper, commented, “The boys were outstanding in all areas tonight. They were absolutely devastating going forwards and they also performed their defensive duties incredibly well too. Giulio and I believe the lads have got every chance of having a hugely successful season if they continue to work hard both in and out of possession and take the chances they create in matches. They’re a top, top squad to work with and we will both continue to support them as best we can and are also looking forwards to working with the players who will be stepping into the age group in the seasons to come too.”