U12’s Lose Out In Thrilling Cup Final

The Under 12’s fought a valiant battle with Crofton Saints in the League Cup Final, losing a well fought game 3-2. Read the full match report by Steve Cox.

This Under 12 Cup-Final got underway in brilliant sunshine and the football shone from both sides too. This was never going to be an easy match for the Crofton Lions defence who were pitted against a quick and lively Locksheath Lions forward line. In the end, though, it was the Crofton Lions who ran out 3-2 winners through sheer pluck and determination at the back, where they succeeded in holding Locksheath at bay, managing to edge the final by that single goal. That is not to suggest that this was a one-sided match; far from it.

Crofton too played a full part in this exciting spectacle that was a credit to the Mid Solent Youth Football League. Locksheath were the dominant team in the opening phase of play but it was Crofton who took the lead in the eighth minute. They won a corner out on the left and the ball in found its way to Harry O’Malley standing just outside the six-yard-box. He took a touch and fired a fierce low drive into the net, despite a valiant effort from Connor Smith in the Locksheath goal to keep it out. From then on the match seemed to settle down into a pattern. Periods of long Locksheath pressure, followed by dangerous Crofton breaks.

Crofton had threatened the Locksheath goal on several occasions with one Kai Sterne effort along the ground just drifting wide of the far post and another by the same player kicked off the line. But it was down at the other end where most of the action was taking place. Locksheath wasted a number of chances through wayward shooting but they always looked a dangerous threat going forward and always likely to score. A determined Crofton defence, however, aided by some great keeping by Sam Blythin in the Crofton goal, kept them in front until the break.

Two minutes after the restart Locksheath should have levelled to scores, but another brilliant save by Sam Blythin kept the Crofton goal intact. The pattern of the match continued the same as before with Locksheath doing most of the pressing and Crofton looking threatening on the break. There could be no complaints, however, when Locksheath did manage to even the scoreline seven minutes into the half.

Crofton’s Adam Hatton dwelt too long on the ball in an area of danger, where he was dispossessed, and Locksheath took full advantage, through George Kirk, to go on and score. It was the only real blemish by Adam Hatton who went on to pick up the man-of-the-match award. Would the Crofton defence fold? Not at all and the Crofton riposte was instantaneous – with just over a minute more on the watch, in fact. After breaking up yet another Locksheath attack the ball was moved to the other end of the field where the ever alert Harry O’Malley picked it up 20 yards out. With time and space to spare he unleashed a terrific shot to restore Crofton’s lead, an effort that flew into the net, giving the Locksheath keeper no chance.

Again Locksheath pressed very hard but in the 22nd minute of the half Crofton struck again. The ball was moved down the right where Josh Fox collected it to home in on the Locksheath goal. His well-struck shot cannoned against the crossbar and looped up into the air. The first to react was Crofton’s Kai Sterne who leapt gazelle like to nod it into the net from four yards out.

To Locksheath it must have been a hammer blow, but if it was it didn’t show. In the 25th minute a Crofton player again dwelt too long on the ball just inside his own half and was mugged. Locksheath quickly moved the ball forward and Lucas Datson sent an unstoppable shot into the top right hand corner of the Crofton net. This instilled fresh impetuous into the Locksheath team, who continued to surge forward.

Despite that the Crofton boys defended well and didn’t sit back. They took the play to the opposition whenever they could, managing to see out the remaining tense five minutes of play. It was tough on the Locksheath boys who had fought well throughout the match. They kept going forward and never at any time let have their heads dropped.

Crofton lived dangerously at times with some last ditch defending too, but the Crofton forward line contains some very talented players and they made it tell in the end – just.

The U12s just before kick off of the League Cup Final played on the 3rd May 2014

The U12s just before kick off of the League Cup Final played on the 3rd May 2014