U18's Crowned Champions in Style
By Wayne Holden
City Ladies U18's went into their final league game with Winchester City knowing that only a win by 3 goals or more was needed.
The scenario going into this final game was that City had to beat Winchester City, which would have put them level on points with their opponents. The rules then state that if teams are level on points at the end of the season, then it goes on head to head your results against each other. In our 2 previous encounters (you play everyone 3 times) this season we drew 2-2 away, and lost 4-1 at home, so basically we needed to win by 3 clear goals which would have then taken it to a play off game. If we win by 4 clear goals then we would be crowned champions. Any other score then Winchester would be crowned Champions as long as they won all 3 of their remaining fixtures. IN the last 2 seasons City have played Winchester on 5 occasions, and not managed a win against them, so a huge task ahead of the girls. Manager Wayne Holden decided to not inform the girls of the rule, and just told them to go and get a result, and put a marker down for when we meet them next week again in the League Cup Final.
The game started at a frantic pace, and both teams had good chances to go in front, but it was City who drew first blood on 13 minutes through Kiera Isaac, as she picked up the ball on the right hand side, cut inside and her cross cum shot flew over the keeper. Just the start City wanted. 5 minutes later they want 2-0 up, as Isaac's striking partner Ellie Larkin got in on the act with a clinical finish. City were now in full flow, and Winchester could not deal with City's free flowing football, and on 25 minutes City went 3-0 up with an absolute stunner of a goal from captain Courtney Sumner. Winchester thought they had got away with it when her strike from 30 yards with her left foot rattled the crossbar, but the ball dropped kindly to Dara Austin who followed the shot in, and you thought an easy tap in but somehow the Winchester keeper threw herself across to make a point blank save, and you thought the chance had gone, but he ball came back out to Sumner, who this time had a go with her right foot from 25 yards, but this time it sailed in the top corner to send City into dream land. What a goal! So 25 minutes gone, and this put it all square in the race for the title. City didn't stop though, and on 32 minutes it got even better as Isaac added her 2nd, as Sumner's exquisite through ball found Isaac, and she cheekily lobbed the keeper. 4-0 to City, and the race for the title had swung to City. Winchester though never let their heads dropped, and got themselves back in the title race on 40 minutes as Charlie Snelling picked up the ball on the edge of the box, and used her quick feet to turn 2 City defenders inside out, and then looked up to see the keeper of her line and hit a superb chip to make it 4-1, and bring it back to all square in the race for the title. Winchester were now putting City under a lot of pressure, but some stern defending from the back 4 of Iona Smith, Amy Leach, Becci Bostock & Alexis Parsons would not let them through, and right on the stroke of half time, City counter attacked, as the impressive Rosie McCabe picked up the ball on the half way line down the left wing, went through 2-3 desperate challenges, and looked up to knock a perfect pass across the box to the onrushing Austin, who slotted home for a crucial goal at a crucial point of the game. 5-1 to City, and only Half-Time.
With City now in pole position, Manager Holden decided to tell his players the league rules, just to make sure the players do not get complacent in the 2nd half, and think that they have done what was needed. Basically it is only a 1 goal swing at the moment he told them, as Winchester are still well & truly still in the Championship race.
2 minutes into the 2nd half, and Manager Holden was thinking he may have made a mistake telling the girls, as the girls looked a bit nervy, and Winchester made it 5-2 and put the race for the title all square again, as the impressive Bryony Morrell was not picked up and she clinically finished giving keeper Hunter no chance. The game was swinging from end to end then with both teams knowing that the next goal was crucial, and much to relief of everyone involved with City it went there way on 63 minutes, as Isaac was put through, and she unselfishly looked up to square to Austin , who composed herself to tuck home the ball and make it 6-2 to City. 4 minutes later, and a huge goal gave City a little bit of breathing space, as Sarah Harrison split the defence with a pin point pass, and the Larkin clinically finished for her second of the game, and more importantly give City a 5 goal advantage to make it 7-2. On 72 minutes City probably wrapped up the league title, and how apt it was probably the goal of the game, as player of the match Bostock made a last ditch tackle on her own box to stop a certain goal from Winchester, and instead of just clearing her lines, decided to go on a mazy run going past many challenges from some desperate challenges, and everybody was desperate for her to pull the trigger, and score an unbelievable goal, but no she composed herself, looked up to see Isaac free in the box, and set her up, and Isaac made no mistake to complete her Hat-trick and get her 26th goal of the season. 8-2 and surely that was enough, but City were not finished. On 80 minutes they added a 9th, as McCabe got a deserved goal herself with a fine finish after good work from Isaac.
No more goals were added and as the final whistle went, all the City players, supporters and coaches were ecstatic. A truly amazing achievement. Oxford City are U18 Thames Valley Counties Division One League Champions. It was great to see Molly Lygo there yesterday supporting the girls. Molly picked up a serious knee injury in our game against Swindon Town last week, and has been obviously very low this week knowing that she will miss these 2 last big games. Molly has played a massive part in the success of winning the league this season.
We now have to get back off cloud 9, and re-group, as we meet Winchester again next Saturday in the League Cup Final at Milton United, as I know they will be looking for revenge.
Team: Lucy Hunter, Iona Smith, Amy Leach, Becci Bostock, Alexi Parsons, Dara Austin, Sarah Harrison, Courtney Sumner, Rosie McCabe, Ellie Larkin, Kiera Isaac. Subs: Lara Althorp, Shelley Knight, Isabella Richards, Chloe Holden, Lauren Page.
Goalscorers: Isaac (3), Larkin (2), Sumner, Austin (2), McCabe.
Player of Match: Becci Bostock