The season started with a few boys who played for the Eagles last season making the step up to join the remaining Kestrels, as the former Kestrels Manager had left & started up his own team which meant many boys went with him.
Having not played together it was likely to take a few games for the team to gel.
We were in for one amazing season & little did we know it. Perhaps the fact we expected so little made the journey so much more enjoyable but as the season progressed & we could see what could be achieved I think we all got very excited.
We started in Division 3 of the NEHYL – our first taste of competitive football now that results & league tables would be published. Our first game saw us away to Farnborough & it was a tremendous game that we were just edged out of 4-3. Our first win was in our next game 2 weeks later when we hammered Bourne Blades 5-0. A week later we lost 2-5 to Badshot Lea having led with just 10 minutes to go. Another convincing win against Hart, 6-0, in our next game put us mid table but with games in hand.
We then came up against Manor Colts a team in a higher division in the League Cup where we had no substitutes but played a remarkable match, we lifted ourselves & took the game to extra time with a tenacious fighting display. It was real edge of the seat drama & as parents we were all so proud watching that performance. It was epitomised by the opposing parents who gave huge credit to the boys saying we were the best team they had faced.
Looking back it was the game that defined our season. We did not know it at the time but we then went on a remarkable run. Five games before Xmas saw us win four & draw one.
Into the New Year & there was no sign of excess turkey or chocolate as our next 4 games saw us win 3-0, 8-0, 3-0 & 6-1 – credit to a wonderful defence & goalkeeping display to go to within 2 minutes of four clean sheets in a row & our goalscoring saw a first hat-trick.
As the season drew to a close we were in second place. We could mathematically catch Badshot Lea but were playing catch up with games in hand. In the end we drew a game we needed to win & the title dream was over but regained our composure to stay in second place & get the runners up spot.
We all had a great night at the League Presentation at the Princes Hall, Aldershot where each player picked up their Runners Up trophy.
We also entered the Ash Trophy which saw us in a group with the Division 5 champions & also two teams in the division above. We did so well again topping the group, where we netted the 2nd Kestrels hat-trick in the opening group game, that took us into the semi-finals. There we played Fleet Spurs who were runners up in the division above & despite a valiant effort went out.
Into the Summer Tournaments, & I use the word loosely, saw us play in the Mytchett tournament where we went out on a penalty shootout which caused uproar as a ball was kicked onto the pitch just as the penalty was to be taken causing our keeper to stop but the ref awarded the goal.
The weather took out the Sandhurst tournament & again the Woodley Saints tournament but we finished the season with two in quick succession at Crookham Rovers & then Farnborough. We played some great football but came 4th in our group which saw us having to play the other group winners in the Cup. We pulled off a fantastic performance to reach the semi-finals where yet again the ref took centre stage. With 10 seconds of the semi to go our goalkeeper was adjudged to have not rolled the ball out of his area before kicking (despite no other ref picking any other team or us up during the rest of the tournament) & the resulting free kick took a deflection to go in & cause heartbreak.
Finally we played in the Farnborough tournament & were in a very competitive group where the top 4 sides which included us, all finished on 6 points. Goal difference & then goals scored saw us into the plate where we met familiar faces in our own Eagles team. A narrow 1-0 win & we were through to the semis where an amazing penalty shootout saw our keeper save 3 out of 4 penalties to put us into the final.
In the final we went 1-0 down early on but fought back to level & then had another penalty shootout. The joy of twenty minutes before in getting to the final turned to some tears as the boys narrowly lost but they should be so proud.
Our season record shows –
- Division 3 Runners Up
- Undefeated in league since 1st October 2011
- Ash Trophy Semi Finalists
- Crookham Rovers Tournament Semi Finalists
- Farnborough Youth Plate Runners Up
We scored 79 goals & conceded just 34 in all competitions.
It has been a fabulous season, enjoyed by us all & we now look forward to next season & the challenges ahead.
Have a great Summer.