U13s 3 – Kings Stanley 5
The conditions were near on atrocious, but a last minute change of venue to Wickwar and great co-operation between the officials and both teams enabled this special fixture to be played.
However, after half an hour we on the Wanderers’ side were starting to wish the game had been again postponed!
KS started really brightly and took the game to Oranges. Wanderers huffed and puffed, but nothing came off and with five minutes on the clock a calamitous bout of defending gifted Stanley a clear scoring opportunity that they gleefully snapped up. A further mix up only minutes later gave KS another clear shot at goal and again the Stanley striker did the necessary. Heads were starting to drop and worse was to follow. Oranges did create a couple of decent openings and both Steve Kaca and Jack Knowler came close, but Stanley created two good goals and a dejected Wanderers entered the half time break cold, bedraggled and 4-0 down! Management feared the worst and although words of encouragement were delivered, a double figures thumping appeared a distinct possibility.
Shaun and I still aren’t quite sure what happened in the second half and KS certainly didn’t take their foot of the gas or give any favours, but the Wickwar boys found their touch and began to pass to one another. Not only that we started carving out a few good chances. Suddenly there was some passion back in the play and the prospect of a trouncing was averted.
We then got ourselves a great goal to make things look semi-respectable. A Joe Sands’ shot was blocked, the ball fell nicely to Jake Templeton and he hit a crisp first time shot from the edge of the box high into the top right hand corner of the goal.
The boys were suddenly galvanized and when Sands reacted quickest to expertly fire home following a parried save from a Knowler shot everyone realized we were back in the game.
When we added a third within a ten minute spell of total dominance the first half performance was a distant memory, the touchline was buzzing and inconceivably Wanderers had victory in their sights. The goal was classic Knowler. He collected in the box, spun around in an instant and shot low and hard into the welcoming net.
Stanley were well and truly rocking at this point and with fifteen minutes left the good-sized crowd realized they were witnessing a pulsating cup match worthy of the occasion.
For a spell Wanderers seemed to get all the decisions and from numerous dead ball positions Templeton fired into the Stanley box for our front line to attack.
Credit to Kings Stanley, they hung in, defended bravely and rode the Orange storm. More importantly they created a good counter attack, split our defence with an excellent ball and their striker struck well to Jake Kirkham’s left and into our net. Kirkham was blameless and it was a sucker punch that effectively ended the tie.
Oranges were not done and still we pushed forward, but alas no more goals.
Those of an Orange persuasion are convinced that had we started the match as we finished it we’d have won. We didn’t though, and over the seventy minutes of play Kings Stanley (just about!) deserved their victory.
Although they were frozen and drenched through all the players were a credit to their respective clubs as they respectfully listened to Nathan Smith’s dad, Neville, give a brave and moving speech and thank the boys for the great match they’d played. Everyone from both clubs then applauded as the Wickwar boys were presented with their runners-up medals and the Stanley lads collected their winner’s medals and the impressive cup. Each boy was also given a football, a really nice touch by the Smiths.
Dave Hoskins was present to represent the league and thanks to all the officials who gave their time for free.
The Wanderer’s team comprised Jake Kirkham in goal, Dan Allan, Josh Werreitt, Jem Beales, Ollie Graham and Will Partridge across the back, Ellis Cox, Declan McGettigan, Jake Templeton, Steve Kaca and Joe Sands in midfield and Jack Knowler our lone striker up front. Each deserves equal credit for representing the club so well.
With only a couple of hours notice, Kristin and Mark Holt pulled out all the stops and provided hot dogs and snacks for everyone so a big ‘thank you’ to you both from all the players, parents and officials !!
Despite the horrible weather Wickwar and Kings Stanley put on a great, hard fought, fair match played in a good spirit and hopefully the Smith family considered it a worthy tribute to their son, Nathan.