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Islington youngsters ready to battle for Gazette Schools Cup at Emirates Stadium

14:02 21 May 2014

Twins Kai and Kane Knight with the Gazette Schools Cup 2013

Twins Kai and Kane Knight with the Gazette Schools Cup 2013

Dieter Perry

St Aloysius’ College will aim to secure the second segment of a possible treble when they defend the Gazette Schools Cup at Emirates Stadium on Thursday (kick-off 9am).

The Archway school’s Under-15 team clash with St Mary Magdalene in this year’s final at the home of Arsenal, with one trophy out of a possible three already safely locked away.

They defeated Dulwich school Kingsdale 6-4 in the Inner London Cup final earlier this month, and face the same opponents in the last four of the London Schools Cup.

Aloysius coach Jamie Stuart hopes that his side’s resilience at the back – they kept clean sheets in four of their six Inner London Cup ties – will enable them to maintain their grip on the Gazette Schools Cup as well.

“The boys score plenty of goals and play nice football, but they’ve also done well in terms of not conceding,” said Stuart.

“A lot of the boys play in the same team outside school, they get on very well and they’ve got a lot of trust in each other. That collective spirit has definitely helped them this season.

“They’re much harder to beat and they’ve taken confidence from that. It’s a few years since we played St Mary Magdalene, but we know we’ll be in for a tough game.”

The team’s defensive prowess has been strengthened by the performances of David Willis, who only took over in goal at the start of the season, and Roman Omid, who plays in front of the back line.

Along with Omid, Jendrick Loschner – who plays up front alongside top scorer Sang Pierre Gomez – has made good strides this season, while captain Emmanuel Yeboah is an influential figure in central midfield.

Having received a bye in one round and beaten Islington Arts and Media School 4-0, the St Aloysius boys booked their place in the final with a 4-1 victory against Haverstock.

Like their opponents, St Mary Magdalene have also benefited from a bye, but gave a clear indication of their ability on the field by hammering City & Islington 8-0 and then beating Acland Burghley 3-1 in the semi-final.

While coach Tom Mayes has no doubt that his team go into the final as clear underdogs, he feels they have players who are more than capable of causing problems for the cup holders.

James Kelly has matured in a defensive midfield role this season, while hard-working team captain George Osborn poses a real threat in attacking areas.

The Liverpool Road school also possess a pair of pacy wide players in Mark Williams and Alis Pektas, who provide good support to attacking spearhead Gio Boffa.

“The boys have often been up against bigger opponents, but positionally they’re hard to break down and I’ve been so impressed with the way they move the ball from wing to wing,” said Mayes.

“If they play like that, they’ll give Aloysius a good game. It’s such a big achievement getting to the final and we’re definitely the underdogs, so to win it would be incredible.

“We’re all looking forward to it massively. A lot of the boys go to watch Arsenal, so playing at the Emirates really is a dream come true for them.”

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