Chilwell 3 - Rushcliffe 2
The Chilwell Year 9 football team made it 5 wins from 5 on Wednesday afternoon as they continued to go from strength to strength.
Like the football, the confidence is flowing at the moment for Chilwell under 14's who played their way into the 4th round of The National Cup Competition (ESFA Cup) with a victory over Nottinghamshire County Cup Champions, Rushcliffe.
In this statement victory, the Swans, undefeated in all competitions in 2023, defeated Rushcliffe by playing with determination, style and panache.
The Swans started the game with a solid 4-5-1 setup, a formation that had served the team well in the 2nd half against Toot Hill last week. The Swans played a free flowing passing football, setting up in a defensively solid block that pass the ball out of defence. Captain Alfie W operated in a CAM role with Kheone D as lone striker flanked by two wingers Oli L and Olly S, the team quickly established themselves as the team that were taking the game to Rushcliffe, their willingness to pass the ball out from defence and control possession complemented by the skill, pace and drive on either flank, in the first 5 mins Rushcliffe struggled to cope in the early phase of the game.
Despite early chances, and through a rare Rushcliffe attack, The Swans were unfortunate to go 1-0 down after a superb through ball, in fact the Swans manager appeared to be at fault for the first goal as he was communicating the threat of the Ruscliffe winger as the Rushcliffe winger cut inside and connected with the through ball, slotting home after being played through 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper. The Swans do not dwell on mistakes though and Captain Alfie W quickly hit back to make it 1-1 and restore parity within 5 minutes of conceding. Much like against Toot Hill last week, the team responded almost immediately to conceding.
The rest of the 2nd half was very much about Chilwell controlling the possession and probing the Rushcliffe defence for space. Against a team featuring some very strong midfield and forward players, Rushcliffe have strength throughout the side, but in this game The Swans showed that they can take control of the game against top level opposition, at times passing the ball right through the team from goalkeeper to striker, turning defence into attack with fast flowing passing football on more than one occasion as the half drew to a close.
At half time the feeling was that the team was in control of the game, Ruschliffe having been limited in chances and The Swans having had much possession in the first half, the team just needed to keep doing what they were doing. .
Shortly after the 2nd half restart, it was Alfie W who found space and driving into the Ruschliffe penalty area with the ball at his feet would surely have scored were he not brought down in the penalty area. For the 2nd time in two games he converted from the spot, 2-1 to Chilwell and two goals on the day for The Swans captain.
It was ole football as Oli L, again a driving force on the left side followed up a shot from Alfie with his own powerful left-foot finish that left the Rushcliffe keeper no chance at all, 3-1. A superb finish from Oli L, who has been a driving force in all 3 of Chilwells ESFA cup games. Also critical today was the return of Angus T to midfield who, alongside Evan S performed superbly in centre midfield, working the ball out with quick feet and either quicker thought, and flanked by full backs and wingers who support and play flowing passing football, they were too much for Rushcliffe in midfield.
For 5 minutes, to chants of 'when The Swans go marching in' from the home fans, Chilwell seemed in complete control of the football match and like they might put further distance between themselves and The County Cup Champions Rushcliffe by adding a 4th. But champions don't stay down for long and a reshuffle from Ruschliffe saw them regain a foothold in the game. With 15 minutes to go, and with a Rushcliffe player advancing into the box, a careless tackle saw Swans keeper Alex M facing a penalty, a penalty he duly saved, getting down quickly low to his right, and catching the follow up, it was a cool head from The Swans number 1 that maintained the two goal cushion for Chilwell.
Although Rushcliffe managed to get one back 5 minutes from time from a flowing attacking move, The Swans were able to see out the last 5 minutes retaining the ball and continuing to press Rushcliffe playing positive football, limiting Rushcliffes possession despite them featuring top Academy players in their midfield, the midfield partnership of Angus T and Evan S proved to be too much for them, a solid defence, and fast wingers who supported their full backs provided a platform for today's Man of the Match Alfie W to influence the game with a floating attacking role through the centre of the park, he continued to drive at the Ruschliffe defence playing in strikers and wingers, and in the 2nd half dropping deep to support the midfield duo to see out the game.
This was a significant victory for this young Swans team. Much has been written about their progress this year, but this was genuinely superb football from a team who after playing every match away from home last year, have now enjoyed two home wins in two weeks against two of the best teams in The County, winning both and demonstrating to themselves and the home support that they are capable of beating the best in the county.
With one game to play in the Quarter Final of The County Cup before the Christmas break, this team will be hoping to reach the latter stages of at least one cup competition, having progressed in each stage played of the South Notts Cup, County Cup and ESFA cup, and having now beaten two of the stronger teams in The County.