The magic of the Cup is alive and kicking after an unbelievable morning’s football on the road to Wembley (or more than likely Pitch 1 at the Blackburn Soccer Dome) this Saturday when the Junior Hoops u7 Saints took on Rosegrove Lions u7.
It wasn’t a morning for the feinthearted and truly was the epitomy of a game of two halves.
The lie-in and later kick off time clearly didn’t help the Saints who were bolstered by the debut of Matthew to add an extra element of skill and compsore to the team. Rosegrove flew out of the blocks and played with a style of free flowing football that carved through the Saints midfield and defence on a regular basis. A number of neat one twos were capped off by strong finishes as the Lions raced into the lead. They didn’t relent either scoring six goals in the first half with the Saints hanging on thanks to two powerful finishes from Teddy driving in field from the right wing.
If there were nerves in the stands the one man who kept his cool was Head Coach Dean Mc. As the half time whistle blew he calmly took the boys to one side and gave them words of encouragement reminding them how they had performed in recent weeks. Get one goal back and we will see where it takes us was the message along with remember how you can play when you combine as a team.
The message clearly landed with Oakley who was a different player in the second half and scored two goals in quick succession with the second half barely three minutes old. The second was a blistering free kick that any keeper would have struggled to save.
The Lions weren’t going to allow the Saints to have it all their own way though and they battled back with a goal of their own.
This time the Saints weren’t phased though. The calming influence of Leighton De Gea in goal supported by battling performances from Oscar and partcularlty Alfie whose reading of the game meant the Lions free flowing football from the first half was not to been seen in the second.
Teddy and his tireless workrate brought the Saints within two goals before Seb turned the game on its head with two quick goals, the second a delightful half volley. The game was tied and the Saints were alive and sensing the dream of getting to a Cup Final in their first season was still a distinct possibility. Out of nowhere debutant Matthew delighted the crowd with a calm finish under pressure to give the Saints the lead for the first time. Receiveing the ball on the right, he shifted it inside with quick feet before evading the defender and slotting home.
Rosegrove weren’t going to lie down though. Following two great saves from Leighton, the second at point blank range and a last minute tackle from Oscar as the Rosegrove attacker looked to pull the trigger, Rosegrove equalised following a defelcted strike.
The game was level and there were five minutes left. The Saints had shown unbelievable heart and desire to battle back. Did they have anything left in the tank? Yes they did!
Huey made a strong tackle in the heart of the defence and passed the ball to Alfie who fed the ball into Oakley on half way. Taking the ball on the turn Oakley looked up and saw Teddy on the left. An incisive pass released Teddy who bore down on goal and curled the ball into the bottom right hand corner. Advatage Saints once again.
With two minutes remaining on the clock Teddy, who didn’t stop running all game broke free again and this time drove the ball home to cap off a remarkable comeback and send the Saints through to the next round.
Both teams deserve credit for a game that would have graced any pitch. There was skill, quality and heart in abundance but it’s the Saints who march on to the next round.
This reporter is off for a lie down!
C’mon the Hoops!