Legends battle through to cup final

GLENDALE LEAGUE U10 PREMIERSHIP CUP

Alnwick Lions...1 Longhoughton Legends...2

ALNWICK Lions lost out to a resilient Longhoughton Legends team in a high-quality match that did credit to both teams.

The Lions, with only pride to play for after a surprise defeat three days before to Longhorsley, began strongly, immediately putting the Legends’ defence under pressure.

With captain Will Sibson playing in an advanced midfield role, the Lions had pace aplenty upfront, Sibson combining well with strikers Scott Dransfield and Joe Pickard.

As early as the second minute, Liam Jefferies carried the ball forward down the right-wing before playing the perfect through-ball to Sibson, who was denied only by the Longhoughton keeper Matisse Richards who came smartly off his line to save.

A minute later, Dransfield also found himself in space approaching the area and fired a rasping shot towards the goal, which was again well saved.

Then it was Joe Pickard’s turn. First, Dransfield played him in with a ball that landed just beyond him, before moments later, Pickard ghosted past the defence cutting in from the left-wing. Unfortunately, his shot was weak and easily saved.

Further shots followed from Sibson as the Lions broke quickly and repeatedly without ever landing the killer blow.

One move stood out as Thomas Forster, given the time to play from the back put Dransfield through. He controlled the ball well, took a touch past the covering defender, before crossing to Pickard, who shot just wide of the post.

Another speedy break resulted in a corner to Alnwick. When the kick came in, it ricocheted out to Callum Robertson and then broke to Dransfield lurking on the edge of his area. His left-foot curled shot was out of the top drawer but inches beyond the upright.

It wasn’t until the 13th minute that Jay Graham in the Alnwick goal had a save to make, plucking a free-kick from just under the bar.

With the game somehow goalless at half-time, there was a suspicion that the Lions might pay for their profligacy in front of goal and so it proved.

The second half began with the ball caught more often than not in midfield. Chances were suddenly at a premium and Longhoughton, the U10s Glendale League champions, slowly gained a foothold in the game.

Richards had come out from the Longhoughton goal and was now playing down the right. He provided the outlet to get forward that Longhoughton had seemed to lack in the first half.

After one shot narrowly wide, Longhoughton took the lead in the 26th minute with a well-taken goal from Jake Bell. Alnwick failed to clear a corner fully and when the ball came back into the box, Bell was on hand to place it beyond Jay Graham.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of the Lions, so dominant in the first half, and chances were few and far between.

Two minutes from time, the Legends added to their lead with the best move of the game. Matisse Richards broke at speed down the right, outstripping the Lions’ defence before crossing the ball with the highest quality into the Lions’ penalty area, where Lewis Smart was on hand to head home.

With virtually the last kick of the game, the Lions pulled a goal back when Pickard netted a scrappy goal after the ball cannoned into the Longhoughton goal off his shin.

Scrappy it may have been, but it was no more than the Lions deserved for their superb first half showing. The Legends progressed to this weekend’s U10s Premiership Cup final, to be played this weekend at Wooler.

Alnwick Lions: Jay Graham, Reece Gaines, Raphael McCall, Jack Clements, Thomas Forster, Liam Jefferies, Joe Pickard, Scott Dransfield, Will Sibson, Callum Robertson.