The Omega Multi-Academy Trust derby

Great Sankey 0 – 4 Alsop High School

Goals – Lyons, Calland (3)

Attenborough, Parks, Franklin, Redgrave, Turing: the banners were called and the five proud houses of Alsop high school once again merged into the indomitable force of the year 9 football team.

After a long winter break on an over cast spring afternoon they travelled to Warrington for the first derby match against Alsop’s sister school in the Omega Multi-Academy Trust, Great Sankey. A game that promised to showcase the great talents of both schools in an exhibition of immaculate, footballing majesty!

The home teams’ facilities were breath-taking with an immaculate full pitch complete with floodlights, the Great Sankey team were warming up looking pristine in brand new kits looking sharp and purposeful.

Alsop Captain and defensive stalwart Josh Roberts led the away team warm up with the outfield players, as cultured winger Zach Gillespie practiced set-pieces against vice-captain and commanding goalkeeper Joe Manley.

Before the match it was decided that Alsop would experiment with a narrow four-man box midfield giving talismanic striker Aidan Calland a free role to roam around the field looking to inflict maximum damage on their opponents. However, after seeing the size of the pitch it was agreed that a much more expansive strategy was needed so Alsop reverted back to their familiar 4-3-3 to take advantage of the width and to stretch their opponents.

The match kicked off at break neck speed with Alsop starting strong with their typical style of heavy metal football from the first whistle. The front triad of Calland, Gillespie and Hauley led the gegenpress as decisive centre back Lucas Piper marshalled a very high defensive line that shrank the playing area putting huge pressure on the other team by not allowing them to settle.

To Sankey’s enormous credit, they initially coped well and the first half was a very even affair with both teams hitting the post. At one point, Sankey countered fast and as their CAM approached the 16-yard box a mis-timed tackle from midfield orchestrator Louis Stopforth gave away a free kick. As the Sankey player lined up his shot it was obvious that he was going for goal but he had to beat Alsop’s commanding goal keeper Joe Manley first. As the free kick was hit, the ball came over the wall, swerved in the wind and started to dip. Manley leapt from his line, and flew through the air like Gianluigi Donnaruma. At full stretch, he just managed to get a fingers onto it and tipped it onto the post and out it out for a corner.

Next it was Alsop’s turn to hit the post but this time it was from an Alsop corner. As the ball floated in, the Sankey defense managed to scramble it away only for Zach Gillespie to unleash a ferocious shot which beat the goalkeeper and hit the inside of the post and away from the goal. 

It was just before half time that Alsop scored the first goal, again this came from a set piece. Like a gunslinger in the wild west, play making forward Aiden Calland lined up a free kick which hit the post but as it rebounded back into play enthusiastic fullback Alfie Lyons was there to run in at the back post and volley it into the back of the net - This was Alfie’s first goal for Alsop and was thoroughly deserved after a string of impressive performances this season.

As the second half began, Alsop started to rotate their team with the ever-reliable Keane Dickinson slotting into defense allowing Lucas Piper to play a holding defensive midfield role. As ever, Alsop kept their intensity up and started to get stronger as their opponents began to visibly tire.

For the second goal, flamboyant winger Riley Hauley marauded down the left wing skinning his opponent and as he broke into the box, he unleashed a thunderous drive. it was saved by the keeper only for Aiden Calland to score a classic poachers goal as he passed it into the open net.

The third goal was another moment of individual brilliance. Lucas piper, like a rock in front of the Alsop back four, passed it to Aiden Calland who began a marauding, mazy dribble through the middle of the park, taking on and beating 5 players from deep in his own half only to smash it like a rocket into the back of the net.

For the final goal strong fullback Josh Ward started a ‘two-pass’ counter of technical excellence. Deep in his left back position he deftly found wing wizard Zach Gillespie on the opposite flank with a pin point trevalla pass on the outside of his boot. As the ball came down, man of the match, Gillespie angled his body and hit it first time to split the hapless Sankey defense in two which, once more, allowed Calland a run onto goal to complete his hat trick with a composed, well-placed shot.

At full time respect was shown and handshakes were made by both sets of teams as the onlookers applauded a fantastic game of football and even though Alsop only took a 13-man team against a much larger Great Sankey squad that could rotate, they may have been outnumbered… but they were never outgunned.