a large group of students and teachers along a grand staircase

ESFA U12s Playstation Elite Schools Cup

Posted: 19th September 2023

St. John’s Senior School embarked on their inaugural campaign in the ESFA u12s Elite National Cup against the formidable Shenfield High School. Boasting a commendable track record, Shenfield clinched the Elite title in the previous season with their u13s and was runners-up in the small school’s u12s final.

The match started with St. John’s displaying a commendable start, asserting themselves from the onset. Their pressing game and adeptness in creating goal-scoring opportunities set the tone for the encounter. Maintaining dominance in possession, Shenfield struggled to keep up with the pace and the superb football showcased by the home team.

Approximately 20 minutes into the game, a well-coordinated move down the left-hand side culminated in Che Chavez receiving the ball on the edge of the area. With a thunderous strike from his left foot, he propelled the ball into the top corner, granting St. John’s a thoroughly deserved lead. This early advantage only fueled their determination as they continued to mount pressure, relentlessly pursuing the elusive second goal.

Seven minutes later, Leo Aliadiere unleashed a splendid shot that nestled into the bottom corner, leaving the Shenfield keeper with no chance. By the 27th minute, St. John’s had surged to a commanding 2-0 lead, firmly on course for an impressive victory.

As the teams regrouped at halftime, the second half unfolded reminiscent of the first, with St. John’s dictating the tempo and fashioning several promising opportunities. A brilliant effort from Darious on the left flank set up Kiro for what seemed like a certain goal, but an unfortunate misjudgment led to the ball soaring over the bar. In a subsequent play, Leo skillfully evaded the goalkeeper, only for a defender to clear the ball off the line heroically. Two golden opportunities had slipped through St. John’s grasp, prompting Shenfield to make tactical adjustments.

This alteration gradually allowed Shenfield to gain a foothold in the game. Patient build-up play eventually culminated in a chance they capitalised on, narrowing the deficit with a tap-in at the far post. The momentum had now shifted as Shenfield pressed in pursuit of an equaliser.

Recognising the shift in dynamics, St. John’s implemented a subtle yet pivotal tactical alteration. Within moments, Che found himself on the edge of the area again, delivering a sublime left-footed strike that nestled into the top corner, reinstating their two-goal advantage at 3-1. In quick succession, Darious exhibited exceptional ball-winning prowess on the left, evading multiple challenges before feeding Leo in a high-pressure situation. Leo demonstrated exemplary control, setting up Kiro for a clinical finish and extending the lead to 4-1.

Shenfield struggled to contain St. John’s, who continued to carve out chances in the game’s closing stages. St. John’s might have even added a fifth or sixth goal on another day. The final whistle heralded a historic victory for St. John’s, marking their debut in the ESFA Elite Competition with a triumph over one of the nation’s most highly regarded teams.

A collective team effort was capped off by a stellar Man of the Match performance from Che Chavez, whose contributions were instrumental in securing the memorable win.