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Field of dreams as Camden win cup derby

Coach hails ‘amazing’ performance from team whose fixtures have been hit by winter weather

21 February, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Islington goalie Bobby Burrows tips over a free-kick from Camden’s Kaylen Dennis at Chase Lodge

THE bragging rights – and more importantly the three points – belonged to Camden on Saturday as they beat neighbouring rivals Islington in the Lester Finch Trophy.

The sticky pitch at Chase Lodge in Barnet didn’t stop either of the teams from playing some scintillating football. It was perhaps the Camden coaches who were left more surprised, however, as they saw their side play their first competitive game since October after wintery weather resulted in scores of their fixtures being postponed.

The triumphant team looked far from rusty as they netted a 3-1 victory in their first group game in the Under-11s primary school’s district football competition, a result that filled their coaches “with great pride”.

The Camden Under-11s district primary schools team that beat rivals Islington

“I thought we might struggle to be honest, it’s been ages since we last played,” said coach Gary Stephens, who runs the team alongside Mark Jones. “The boys were simply amazing.

“They proved that they have taken in all the things that we’ve been working on in training. It doesn’t matter how hard you work with them, it’s still down to the players to then be able to go out onto the pitch and perform. It all came together beautifully. They kept their shape really well and played some great football.”

Camden raced into an early lead when the energetic Kaylen Dennis let fly from all of 20 yards, a shot that whizzed past goalkeeper Bobby Burrows with the aid of a deflection.

Dennis was also involved in Camden’s second goal midway through the first half when he was brought down in the penalty area – allowing team-mate Ellis Irish to etch his name on the scoresheet from 12 yards.

The result was all but wrapped up on the stroke of half-time when Dennis played a defence-splitting pass for Luke Williams, who showed great composure to place his shot beyond the impressive Burrows.

Islington will turn their attentions to the Inner London County Schools FA’s Kay Trophy

During the interval Islington got the tactics board out. They made a number of personnel and positional changes that resulted in a more spirited showing. That determination saw them grind out a 1-0 victory in the second half thanks to a late consolation from Said Mariche, who powered the ball home from close range.

The celebrations, though, belonged to Camden who will be confident of progressing beyond the group following the 3-1 win.

Islington have been knocked out of the competition, and will turn their attentions towards alternative silverware having made the semi-finals of the Inner London County Schools FA’s Kay Trophy.

Their manager, Michael MacNeill, said: “That’s as poor as we have played all season in the first half. We played too individually and forgot our roles within the team.

“In the second half we played a lot better, and maybe if we could have converted one of our chances, we perhaps could have got something from the game.

“However, maybe we didn’t get the starting team right, so, as coaches, we have to review our own performance as well.”

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