The PHA football team were invited to take part in a 5 a side football media partners tournament last Friday at PowerLeague in Old Street. In unfamiliar surroundings in the pouring rain, myself and Ben from the Sport and Leisure team, Stuart, Charlie and Alex from the Entrepreneur and Business team and Joe S from Digital made up Team PHA.
We had to wait about 20 minutes to play our first game, but this gave us a chance to talk tactics and scout the opposition. What did we learn?! It was going to be a battle and if we wanted to win we would have to be physical and take our chances! 5 a side football is played at lightening pace in dry conditions but the rain only added to the excitement of what we were witnessing and served as the perfect appetiser for what we were about to take part in.
It was well worth the wait. We kicked off the tournament in style; winning 4-1. I scored a couple and a great team passing move was superbly finished off by Alex after some good work from Charlie.
In our next game, though, we were a bit unlucky to lose 4-2, despite a couple of well taken finishes from Ben. The game could have gone either way though with the score locked at 2-2 but two late strikes effectively ended it as a contest.
Back to back games took its toll on our fitness levels as we were outplayed and comfortably beaten 4-1 in the next game. So….it was onto the final group game and despite losing our last two games we knew a win or draw would be enough to see us through to the next round. We were ready.
Indeed a 2-2 draw (thanks to a great finish from Alex) was enough to see us progress, although it came at a cost as Joe limped off with a knee injury after a miss timed tackle….. a tackle he made himself. With both players hobbling off and unable to continue, a draw was probably a fair result.
And so we had done enough to progress to the quarter finals. After a long, cold wait we finally took to the pitch to face one of the teams we had watched whilst we were warming up for our first game. We knew what to expect and were right to predict a physical game.
That said, we got off to the best possible start, I shot and the keeper made a great save but Alex was on hand to steer the ball into the net. 1-0 PHA.
Our lead was short-lived though, as they equalised straight from the centre; a low powerful drive that had Charlie rooted to the spot. It skipped off the wet surface; there was nothing he could do about that….1-1.
Ben picked up the ball and put it on the centre spot to restart the match and rolled it back to me, I hit perfectly and it arrowed into the top corner of the net. 2-1 to PHA.
We created a few other good chances and would have finished the game off, if it wasn’t for the opposition keeper making three brilliant saves! As is often the case in 5 a side football we would come to rue those missed opportunities. We held on for a few minutes and rode our luck but the equaliser did eventually come….2-2.
Stuart then calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner to put us 3-2 up. By now we were beginning to smell an upset and in all honestly we had them on the back foot.
A few controversial decisions from the referee in favour of the opposition allowed them to get back into the game for a third time. With the score at 3-3 a frantic final couple of minutes of end to end action resulted in a winner in favour of our opponents, a powerful strike that slipped through Charlie’s hands and into the back of the net.
We did well to rally in the dying seconds with Alex and Stuart both going close but it just wasn’t to be…..and we were eliminated.
We returned to the office on Monday morning with our heads held high and, who knows, with a couple more games under our belt and a few new faces in the team maybe the next time we put on the famous white, green and blue kit we might go one step further!
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