After a decent afternoon of training at Shrewsbury, followed by lasagne and chips at The Beacon Pub, both squads settled in at Ridgemount to watch a rousing Everton performance against Man Utd. A few hours sleep were managed before our 4.15am departure to Birmingham airport. The flight went very smoothly and the 15 minute transfer from Lisbon airport to the hotel was easy for the majority of the tour party. However Mr Pridgeon and Mr Hughes (in the hire car) managed to take 2 hours, blaming it on Mr Biggins faulty sat nav!
A big lunch at the hotel was followed by our first training session at the Jamor complex, set in beautiful surroundings. We then had a cool down swim in the pool before a big supper and an early night.
Morning training was again followed by a swim and then some” down time” in hotel rooms to charge up our batteries before our first match against the academy teams of Division 1 Estoril.
U15 Match Report 1 v Estoril – Sam Mitchell (Goal keeper)
The game started relativity evenly, both teams passing the ball well on a perfectly flat 3G surface. In the sixteenth minute the opposition scored first with a break away and a curling chip into the left side of the goal. Then in the 23rd minute the opposition struck again with a great cross and a well-timed header back across the goal.
It wasn’t until the 30th minute that Max Parsonage sprung to life and scored what was to be the pick of the goals. After a misplaced goal kick Max received the ball on the turn and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner of the opposition net, this all happening just beyond the 18 yard line. At 2-1 the game tightened up again, and on the 40th minute Max Parsonage rounded the keeper and finished in style to give us the equaliser. Our goalkeeper hadn’t had too much to do and neither had the opposition's with most of the game being battled in midfield and defence. It wasn’t until deep into the second time that the opposition’s 3rd and 4th goals were scored. The first being a cross that was deflected in of one of their strikers at the near post, and the second a well-placed shot into the bottom corner after the striker was a little too strong for one of our defenders.
The highlights of the match were undoubtedly Max’s goal, a crafty chipped pass by the captain, Jake Morris, and a certain amount of skill shown by our keeper to outwit an opposition striker. Overall, the game was a success and the team worked very hard, especially considering a lot of the players were playing out of their favoured positions.
1st XI Match Report v Estoril – Matt Gregson
On a fine August evening in Estoril, the 1st XI kicked off against an academy team. Shrewsbury were dominant from the start with Max Pragnell smartly heading home in the 3rd minute after an Adrian Tong assist. We passed the ball around fairly well on the flat 3G surface after our hard training sessions on the previous days of the tour. However, the other team kept the ball well and kept Shrewsbury chasing the game. We pressed the ball well and kept them playing the game in the middle of the pitch which meant that they were not a threat on goal and our keeper Ben Gould didn’t have to make a save in the first half.
After a prolonged spell of pressure from the hosts, Elliott Christie picked out Max Pragnell in the 27th with a superb through ball which Max finished well, rounding the keeper and slotting home with expert precision. At half time we made a couple of changes and found ourselves on the back foot from the outset. However, we defended very well and didn’t let their slippery salmon of a striker have any real chances on goal. We held out for the second half and neither of our goal keepers conceded a goal.
Overall this was a very good start to the tour and the shape of the team and how we defended was very encouraging as we kept a clean sheet against a decent outfit. Hopefully there will be more wins to follow throughout the tour and the season! The low point was losing Matthew Gregson with a nasty ankle ligament injury which means he will miss the rest of the matches.
U15 Match Report v Castelo Forte – Harry Schofield
The match kicked off at 5 o’clock in the Jamor training ground. To begin with, our performance was reasonably composed, however around 15 minutes into the match, the opposition managed to secure a cross into the box, leaving a man unmarked on the back post, who tapped it into the back of the net. We returned to our match facing an opposition hungry for another goal. A small lad holding the number 10 shirt was dominating our midfield along with a talented number 6 creating opportunities from central defence. These players caused our defence to drift to the right; exposing our left flank. This led to a one-on-one and then another goal. It was late in the first half, when a corner for us led to Jake Morris placing a volley into the net.
After the half, we held them off for a while but then once again they struck in about the 55th minute with a header to potentially seal their victory. We did however, have other chances to score again but all were put to waste. We really should have won this match but at the end of the day our efforts were left aside. The match finished with a 3-1 defeat.
1st XI Match Report v Castelo Forte – George Ellery
We kicked off at around 6:30pm. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the game was very poor, we didn’t get any good passages of play and we couldn’t keep the ball for more than a few minutes. We kept losing it with mistakes. However, after the first 15 minutes we gradually started playing, but it wasn’t up to our usual high standards.
At half time, Mr Biggins and Mr Hughes said a few words and got us focused again. The second half we were a lot better. We wanted the ball a lot more and we worked a lot harder to keep the ball and to get the ball back. However the match turned with 10 minutes to go. They scored…. But then our striker, Max Pragnell was fouled in the area and earned us a penalty which he scored. The final result was 1-1 but we should have won!
1st XI Match report v Oreiras Academy
After a tiring week of intense physical preparation for the upcoming season, the 1st XI arrived at St Julian’s School where we were greeted by a younger opposition than we expected. Max Pragnell came to a very premature conclusion we were not playing them because we dwarfed them in stature and physique. Our warm up was sharp and crisp; we passed the ball quickly and fluently and everyone was in the right frame of mind to start the final match. Our younger opponents were a very talented team, organised and not scared to put challenges in. In the first half we battled well against them, winning headers and challenges as we should but just couldn’t keep possession well. The turning point of the first half was when Shrewsbury conceded a soft penalty, when Alex Styles (Centre Half) chested the ball down, but the referee thought he had handled. Luckily Ben Gould saved the penalty very confidently and justice was done. We quickly went down the other end and Adrian Tong (Midfield) cut in from the right flank and slotted one in the bottom right corner. Our lead did not last long and their superior fitness and ability to keep hold of the ball proved to be our undoing.
The game ended up 3-1 against a very impressive opposition.
U15 Match Report v Oreiras Academy - Ben Sansom (Midfield)
After our last disappointing performance, we arrived at St Julian’s school with a burning desire to perform at the best of our ability. As it was the final match, many of us felt as if we needed to win this match to regain our reputation and confidence. It was a good temperature to play in and we were excited to play on the completely flat 3G pitch.
The game started, and we passed the ball around crisply and accurately. After a miss from the opposition because of a goalkeeping mistake, Max Parsonage was played through and was fouled, resulting in a penalty. He calmly placed it in the corner, putting us in the lead.
Our confidence levels grew and Jack Fox was played through twice scoring both times with great composure. However both were offside and so at halftime we only lead by one. We had played well, creating waves and waves of attack, mainly run by Ben Jones and Toby Mason in the middle. Ed Dolphin had defended well as a centre half and Max Parsonage continued to threaten their defence.
In the first ten minutes of the second half, we continued to play well. Anton Nelson scored a great header to give us a 2-0 lead, but then everything turned upside-down. They scored two free kicks, to level the scores. We then took a 3 -2 lead, which did not last long and the final nail in our coffin came in the last minute and we were devastated to go 4-3 down in a game we certainly should have won. The matches were all very even however and provided us with great experience before the season.