Nine-goal thriller in the chiller

Longhoughton U9...5 Cramlington Jrs Santa Fe U9...4

NMSL U9

LONGHOUGHTON and Cramlington Juniors produced a thrilling match on a freezing Sunday morning at Westfield Park, Longhoughton.

Amid the iron-cold expanses of frozen fields, Longhoughton’s 3G surface was graced by an excellent game of football that Longhoughton U9s seized with a last-minute victory.

Longhoughton started the game strongly. After darting to the right of the last defender, Gareth Rickaby powered a shot into the top left hand corner of the Cramlington goal to put Longhoughton into the lead (1-0).

Longhoughton were playing with confidence and committed players forward. Yet, an intercepted pass saw a strong run by a Cramlington winger. The cross was played in from the left-flank and, after several attempts by Longhoughton to clear the ball, a shot from the edge of the box found the net for a Cramlington equaliser (1-1).

No sooner had they equalised, than Cramlington took the lead. The ball found its way to the edge of the Longhoughton area after a corner.

Again, it was a Cramlington attacker who met the ball and the shot darted into the corner of the net (1-2).

The visitors were in the ascendency and their confidence led to a third goal.

The winger who had assisted in their first goal received the ball on the left, some 20 yards from the Longhoughton goal. This time, he struck the ball firmly towards goal. The ball eluded three Longhoughton defenders and the goalkeeper to end up in the bottom right-hand corner of the net (1-3).

Cramlington ended the first quarter 3-1 to the good.

The second quarter saw Longhoughton looking to get back into the game.

Momentum was building for Longhoughton and soon it took an excellent save from the Cramlington goalkeeper to deny Lewis Fairbairn, aided by Thorsten Robinson’s ability to pick out his team-mates with expert short passing. Longhoughton continued to build.

Controlling the ball, Robinson, played in Rickaby, who slotted it past the on-rushing Cramlington goalkeeper.

Then 3-2 soon became 3-3 as Gareth returned the compliment to Robinson by assisting his team mate in scoring a good goal.

Robinson exchanged a sharp one-two with Rickaby before hammering the ball home.

The third-quarter saw both teams seeking a fourth goal.

A special something then arrived from a Cramlington free-kick on the edge of the home side’s area. The ball was expertly struck and the ball flew unerringly into top right-hand corner of Longhoughton net (3-4).

Cramlington went into the fourth quarter of the game 4-3 up, yet hardly had the game restarted than the score was levelled again.

Fairbairn won the ball in the middle of the pitch and then streaked into the Cramlington area. Hardly pausing to look up, Fairbairn shot across the Cramlington keeper, who got a hand to the ball but the shot was too strong and Longhoughton were level (4-4).

Appropriately, the winning goal came from Rickaby and Robinson. First, Rickaby again made a penetrative run down the left flank. His cross was met by Robinson, his clever diagonal run leading to an exultant finish.

Cramlington were now 5-4 down after leading the game 2-1, 3-1 and 4-3.

Yet their heads did not drop.

In the final three minutes of the match, their watching supporters thought a prodded shot from a corner had secured an equaliser, yet Niall Murtagh got the slightest glimmer of a touch to push it past the post.

A Cramlington attacker evaded Longhoughton’s last defender to slip the ball through the Longhoughton keeper’s legs. It was in until Jack Brooks’ brilliant defending diverted the ball away from the goal and into touch.

Nine goals and great football. The moment that will live long in the memory is Jack’s great covering defending.

Who says that all glory goes to the goal-scorers?