Goals: A Hewitt Z Fraser
MOM: S Ali
The U16s were struck with illness and injury this week and had the lowest turnout for training all season. The Bears had a bare 11 and the Saints went with 13 for their trip to unbeaten Atherton Town. The Saints have had some great games with Atherton over the past few seasons and today was no different. Junior Hoops got off to a flying start when the flying full back Hewitt unleashed a thunderbolt from outside the box after a great move. Gibson was making only his second JPL appearance in goal and over the course of the game he made 4 or 5 top class saves, the back four was missing the inform Thompson and Marshall was playing at 75% but still performed well. Sanderson came on, made 2 great tackles and had to come off with a tight chest and the injured Hewitt had to come back on. It was a case of patching people up but the lads battled on. After 10 minutes the Hoops went 2 nil up when the effective Fraser rounded the keeper to keep his goalscoring run going. White was moved from midfield as he looked leggy after his exploits in the week and 2 hours of training the night before. Ashton couldn’t quite recreate his brilliant form this season and the injured Hyde was consistent as ever. Scott was digging in but couldn’t affect the game as he likes to and got no rewards for his effort. At two nil up the major turning point of the game occurred, Fraser was through after a great through ball by Frost and the speedy striker was clearly chopped in the area as he was about to pull the trigger. A clear penalty and a red card should have followed but was ignored.
Ali was superb all match yet again and is currently front runner for player of the year, Sanderson continued his fine start for 40 minutes and Frost was solid in both positions he played, Bangbala caused problems and come close with a great strike and in general everyone tried hard but just didn’t have enough.
Atherton then began to show what a quality team they are and dominated the next 25 mins. Two of the Atherton lads caused all sorts of problems and they were gifted an opener when Gibson couldn’t quite claim it and the ball hit a player and went in. The opposition then scored a good header from another corner which was completely unchallenged. At 2-2 White came alive and started to terrorize Atherton, he skipped past three players and as he was about to shoot had his shooting foot blatantly took away. A clearer penalty as you will see was again denied by the Ref. Atherton piled on the pressure and scored again and as the depleted Hoops were hanging on Atherton scored again.
On reflection the result was fair as Gibson was busier than the Atherton keeper but goals change games and the two decisions were huge game changers. Atherton had many more free kicks from 50 /50 tussles in the middle of the park and the pressure they created paid off. The lads battled well especially considering all the illness and injury and White couldn’t ask more from the lads. It was a thoroughly entertaining game involving two quality teams.