This evening Conquest U16 completed the first of their full academy programme by taking on QPR's U16 Academy in their 3G dome facility at Cranford Community College. This was a unique opportunity for our boys given that not only was it the first academy game they had played together but it was only their third competitive game ever as a group and the first of the full academy schedule for Conquest U16. They were pioneering a new programme being undertaken by Conquest, a great relief for many of the staff and players as they had been lambasted by other coaches, players and clubs across the country that cited the idea we would be playing academies as ridiculous and a fantasy. Evidently the fantasy became real this evening and it will be one to remember for our boys, certainly.
1. Matthew Attipoe*
3. Jason Fernandes*
4. Troy Ferguson*
4. Jide Olaogun*
5. Cadell Fraser-Robinson (C)* (1 assist)
6. Charlie Tivey*
7. Blessing Tshibikubula*
8. Jared Myers* (1 assist)
9. Kacper Nozka*
10. Obinna Ogbonna* (1 assist)
11. Jayde Crotty*
12. Eddy Coulibaly (1 assist)
13. Bilal Saddique (3 goals)
14. Saran Sutharsan (1 goal)
15. Seth Botchey
*Denotes a player that started the fixture
The dome was an interesting location for the fixture given that it was significantly tighter than what you would expect for an 11-a-side pitch and this offered a double edged sword, less of an opportunity for our boys to demonstrate their athletic ability but more of a chance to demonstrate their technical proficiency. Obviously the boys rose to the challenge as they have each occasion so far this year.
The game in the first half was a steep learning curve for our boys as they spent much of the time chasing the ball and looking to get a foothold in the game. QPR demonstrated their technical ability by dominating the ball, playing well from the back and combining well all over the pitch with plenty of 1-2 football on show. They had a couple of early breaks but the Conquest boys defended well and managed to stay compact and frustrate the opposition.
Mid-way through the first half there was a breakthrough for QPR after a Conquest defensive error allowed the striker through, he had been lively so far and made no error in slotting into the corner. The display by Conquest improved slightly but the only really noteworthy chances of the first half had fallen to Sutharsan, who replaced Tshibikubula and showed promise on the left but was unable to convert. Other than this a couple of long shots by Tshibikubula before being replaced had threatened but were easily held or just wide.
HT: QPR 1-0 Conquest
The second half began in explosive fashion as Myers found a cutting pass through the two lines to find Ogbonna who rattled his shot off the post. Moments later Myers found Ogbonna again this time in a much wider area as he paced past the full back and swung in a good cross that Sutharsan rose to well and converted with a powerful header.
The goal had given Conquest a new lease of life and immediately the boys seemed to relax and began to play much more of the football that we are now used to. They enjoyed far more possession and were now finding much more rhythm - the passing fluidity we knew they were capable of came to fruition and the physical advantages began to show. They demonstrated much more progressive football.
Not long after drawing level another mistake at the back allowed the QPR striker to steal in and finish well into the bottom corner to give them back their 2-1 lead. Despite this there seemed little to deter Conquest as Saddique was introduced and immediately began to wreak havoc. With his explosive pace and relentless work rate he was getting onto the end of a lot of lose balls. He was rewarded when Fraser-Robinson managed to find him between the RB and CB as he breezed past the CB and finished exquisitely in the far corner, it couldn't have been more inch perfect.
With the second leveller of the game the boys had shown immense spirit, a daunting task as it was, it was made much harder by having to come from behind twice. Once level Conquest let a couple of chances go begging, notably - Sutharsan hitting the post off a very well worked corner from Tshibikubula. Having said that, equally the QPR players would be aggrieved not to have been given a penalty after one went down under a challenge from a Conquest defender. So perhaps a draw at this stage was fair.
Conquest persisted in attacking with their physical advantages becoming more and more pronounced by the minute - they appeared stronger and fitter than their opposition. Myers once again found a scything pass to cut open their defence and find Saddique who once again finished well to bring Conquest into a 3-2 lead.
Not long after coming on Coulibaly managed to find Saddique, in the right place again who completed a hat-trick and an excellent performance to give Conquest a 4-2 lead.
FT: QPR 2-4 Conquest
MoTM: Bilal Saddique
By no means the best performance by Conquest but the results speaks volumes about their will power, ability and work ethic. They came into a very difficult fixture and managed to produce a great result. There is lots to work on and lots of room for growth but once again this side demonstrated why they are so highly rated.
Keep posted for the next academy fixture which will be in the coming weeks.