HAMPSHIRE YOUTH LEAGUE CUP FINAL
SHOLING v CHRISTCHURCH
MATCH RESULT: 1 – 2
Christchurch push hard for a hard-fought cup final victory in extra-time against a persistent Sholing side, when it looked as if cramp was taking its toll.
It was always going to be a tough game for Christchurch’s young players to pull through, with their recent record against Sholing being less than consistent and the league championship only still in touching distance mathematically.
The game started slowly with neither team being able to go get hold of the ball and pass it, on a surface that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a warzone.
This playing surface, however, didn’t seem to limit the physical side of the game as tackles flew in hard and true throughout the opening exchanges.
It’s fair to say that after the introductory 15 minutes, Sholing settled the better. They won numerous free kicks and corners and started to create the majority of chances.
It was from one of these corners, in the 23rd minute, that Sholing took the lead. The set-piece was driven in low and towards the front post where it was met with a sliced clearance that travelled through the mêlée in the box and towards the back post, where a well-placed Sholing player was on hand to finish into the top of the net.
The goal only helped Sholing assert their dominance on the first 45 minutes and they went into half time with their support shouting loudly, and 1-0 to the good.
The second half started similar to the first, yet it was Christchurch who came out the dominant after the, again scrappy, opening 15 minutes.
The boys in blue then found an equalizer through an unfortunate own goal in the 64th minute. Dan Saul played himself in down the right hand side with a few clever twists; he then proceeded to knock the ball into the front post. The goalie, who willingly came for the ball, fumbled it into the path of Sam Pitman, who challenged the last defender on the line. The defender was put under substantial pressure to force him to smash the ball into the back of his own net.
This goal inevitably invigorated the Christchurch side and their bench. They continued to create some half chances before the close of 90 minutes.
But the result needed to be settled on the night, thus extra-time ensued.
Importantly, Christchurch started the quickest. Ryan Davison played the ball to Saul, who back heeled it back into his path. The ball was then laid off to Harry Morgan on the left corner of the penalty area. The industrious midfielder looked to have the ball caught under his feet but managed to prod a clever effort into the opposite corner, much to the Christchurch bench’s excitement.
But after this goal, to take Christchurch 2-1 up in extra-time, cramp started to take its toll on the players.
After numerous stoppages in play for stretching to take place, the final whistle was greeted with a roar from the crowd and spraying Champagne.
Christchurch U18s lifted the trophy in front of their fans and under the floodlights minutes after.