U8 Maroons Epic Quest

“What warm-up did you do?” questioned Simon with hobbit-like curiosity as the Maroons hammered home a second goal in the first few minutes. Quite uncharacteristically for the Maroons, the lads launched into action faster than the fellowship leaving Rivendell. Charlie pressed through the centre, with Lucas and Nico flanking him either side of him, and it wasn’t long before this bore fruit. The first strike occurred while they pressed high, with the ball breaking free for Nico to unleash a magnificent left-footed drive, leaving the keeper as helpless as Samwise in a riddle contest. Soon after, Lucas joined in, single-handedly hunting down a defender like Aragorn chasing down an Awk, robbing him, and slotting home a goal of pure elven elegance.

Jesse and Josiah were itching to enter the battlefield, and at the 10-minute mark, their wish was granted as Charlie and Lucas made way. In no time, the Maroons capitalised again, with Jesse finding the net thanks to an assist from Austin and Nico.

Jesse, having been hacked down after a wonderful dribble and seeing Abdi point to the spot, grabbed the ball like Gollum. The glint of “my precious” was clear in his eyes. Unfortunately, he slammed his penalty straight at the opposition keeper.

The game wasn’t all smooth sailing; just before the break, Sutton conjured a magical goal, soaring into the top corner and giving Daniel no chance. We glimpsed a spark of hope in their eyes as we regrouped for halftime.

Returning for the second half, the Sutton team had received instructions from Sauron himself: “Get it long, quickly.” Unlike our away leg with Sutton whites, which the boys had clearly learned from, they were unable to take advantage. Every set play, the ball came flying towards our goal, the boys stood as firm as Gandalf battling Balrog, “You shall not pass” came the cry. They dropped deep and counterattacked with moves as intricate as a dwarven treasure map.

Jesse once gain found the net, as the goalkeeper and defender collided like two Ents desperately defending their territory, leaving the goal wide open after an exquisite ball from Austin. Jesse then embarked on another counter, dribbling up the pitch and slyly slipping a ball to Daniel, who slotted it past the keeper. How Daniel didn’t secure a hat-trick remains a mystery, but credit must be given to the Sutton defence. We had further chances from Josiah and Charlie, with Lucas once again showing his goalkeeping prowess, flying out to attacks quicker than an arrow from Legolas.

After the peaks of the game, Jesse and I trudged back to the car, having dismantled the respect barrier, prepared for a coffee and a hot chocolate at the Shire’s equivalent of a tavern (Dark Horse). But my attempt at clever parking at the back of the Sills backfired spectacularly. As I reversed, the sound of spinning wheels echoed, and my heart sank. We were well and truly stuck, and felt as defeated as Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom! I battled for a while, desperately ramming wood, bricks, and anything else I could find in a quest to break free.

Thank God for the Solihull FC family; Tariq, his coaches, along with some passersby swooped in like the Great Eagles with Gandalf to rescue us from the mud, and we lived to fight another day – a tale to be sung in the halls of Middle-earth!

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