Thriller in the chiller

GLENDALE LEAGUE U12

Rothbury...3 Seahouses...3

The last time these two teams played, Seahouses were comfortable 4-0 winners.

However, Rothbury were full of confidence following their first win of the season last week and they came close to taking all three points in what proved to be a tense encounter.

The weather played its part in the match with a cold, blustery wind making it difficult for the players, particularly the goalkeepers.

Seahouses had the best of the opening exchanges, putting Rothbury under pressure from the outset.

The Rothbury defence of Lewis Middleton, Ben Wright and Jake Austin-Walker held firm.

Perhaps against the run of play, Rothbury scored first with a goal that, although it had an element of good fortune, was well-worked.

Lukas Robinson, at the centre of the Rothbury midfield, played one of many excellent through-balls to find James Ballantyne in space on the left-hand side.

Ballantyne struck a tremendous cross low and hard across the Seahouses’ box and, with Rothbury’s Alex Law waiting to receive the ball in front of the goal, the Seahouses’ defender had no option but to stick out a leg to intercept, succeeding only in firing the ball into his own net.

Rothbury looked good for a 1-0 lead at half-time but, with just two minutes to go, a well-struck, long-range shot gave Rothbury keeper Ben Saxon no chance and the sides went to the break level.

Seahouses started the second-half the better team and despite stout defending from Wright, Austin-Walker and Josef Laverty, who replaced Middleton at half-time, they soon took the lead.

Again the goal came from a long-range shot, a tactic that Seahouses seem to have adopted to make the most of the conditions. The ball swirled in the wind before dropping, almost in slow motion, into the top right-hand corner of the Rothbury goal.

Rothbury responded well, the midfield trio of Robinson, Law and Louis Stripp linking up well with striker Robbie Young, who replaced Ballantyne at half-time.

Like Ballantyne, Young took up some excellent positions to provide his team-mates with an outlet and it was he who created the equaliser, feeding the ball to Stripp, who fired low and hard past the Seahouses’ keeper into the net.

With the scores at 2-2, there came the pivotal moment of the match. Another long-range shot from Seahouses was saved well by Saxon, diving to his right, but he was only able to push it to the feet of a Seahouses’ striker, who was unmarked and only two or three yards out from goal.

He struck the ball well and most of the Seahouses’ players were turning away to celebrate when Saxon somehow got to his feet and threw himself across the goal to push the shot around the post.

For those old enough to remember, this was the U12s’ equivalent of Gordon Banks’ save from Pele in the 1970 World Cup. Yes, it was that good.

As Seahouses were still reeling in disbelief, Rothbury took advantage.

Young was again the creator. His shot was saved by the Seahouses keeper, who had an excellent game, but in the blustery and slippery conditions, the ball squirted away from him and Laverty, now playing in the Rothbury midfield, pounced to fire Rothbury into the lead.

A Rothbury victory looked on the cards, but the weather had one final contribution to make to the match. Another long-range shot, this time from the Seahouses left-wing, seemed unlikely to cause problems but, as Saxon advanced to catch the ball, it held up in the wind and curled goalward, high over his head and into the top of the Rothbury goal.

A draw was a fair result in an exciting match in which the lead changed hands three times and the players of each team gave everything they could in difficult conditions.

Rothbury: Alex Law, Ben Saxon, Ben Wright, Jake Austin-Walker, James Ballantyne, Josef Laverty, Lewis Middleton, Louis Stripp, Lukas Robinson, Robbie Young. Rothbury man-of-the-match: Ben Saxon.