Surrey Youth League Invitational Cup Final: Sunday 24th April 2016
by Paul Sarney, U15s Manager
Worplesdon Rangers U15 3-3 Wallington Wanderers (AET)
(Worplesdon Rangers win 4-2 on penalties)
Worplesdon Rangers U15s, currently in pole position of the U15 SYL Super Division, were crowned winners of the SYL Invitational Cup at the weekend, beating Wallington Wanderers 4-2 on penalties in a tense final at Carshalton Athletic FC.
It was a spirited performance, coming back from a 1-2 half-time deficit to take the game all the way to extra time as it finished 3-3. Rangers started a little on the back foot as their opponents pace up front caused a few problems – but as ever this season, the back line refused to break, limiting Wanderers to a few long shots. Against the run of play, Rangers made the breakthrough after 10 minutes, with George Rosson latching onto a through ball to out-muscle the defenders & calmly slot the ball past the advancing ‘keeper.
The game then settled down, with both sides adapting to the lush 3G surface and with the Wanderers forwards putting pressure on the Rangers’ defence, while Worplesdon tried to use the wings to create goalscoring opportunities. Midway through the half Wallington struck back with a scrappy goal that was bundled in at the far post, after Rangers failed to clear. Minutes later Wallington added another to put them 2-1 ahead. The rest of the half was an even contest, a few chances for each side but neither team could find the back of the net.
After an inspired half-time team talk, Rangers came out firing and it wasn’t long before they were level, Mitch Bennett firing home a stunning long-range left foot shot into the top corner. Spurred on, Worplesdon continued their assault on the Wanderers goal and were rewarded when George Rosson grabbed his second goal of the game to send Rangers into a 3-2 lead.
Worplesdon continued to press forward and were unlucky not to add to their tally. The game evened up as the second half went on, with chances for both sides. With 15 minutes to go, the Wallington winger put in a speculative cross which curled in at the far post, just past the outstretched hand of Rangers’ keep Charlie Chilton, scores level at 3-3.
The game became a war of attrition, every Rangers player giving their all for the team. Cramp, knocks, injuries forced many changes with the Worplesdon physio’ working hard to keep the players on the pitch. Chances came and went, shots from the Rangers players skimming the bar & several headers from Josh Barry just missing the target. ‘Keeper Charlie Chilton was in superb form, tipping a couple of goal-bound shots over the bar and making several brave blocks at the forwards’ feet. Full time came with the scores level at 3-3.
Extra time became a battle, neither side could force a winning goal despite the game becoming more open as fatigue set in. And so it came to the dreaded penalties….
Rangers took theirs first, the tireless Josh Barry stepping forward to cooly slot home and maintain his 100% penalty record. Wallington then converted theirs 1-1. Next up was Ben Cave, club player since he could kick a ball. Ben sent the ball hard & high into the top corner, unstoppable. The Wallington player then struck the bar, no doubt put off by Charlie Chilton’s mind games, 2-1 Rangers. Mitch Bennett stepped up and slotted the ball to the ‘keeper’s right, unfortunately that was also where the keeper dived & he was able to save it. Wallington then scored theirs, 2-2. Midfield powerhouse Conor Stillwell took Rangers’ 4th penalty and was coolness personified as he confidently hit the back of the net. As the Wallington player stepped up to take his penalty, Charlie Chilton made a fantastic save to prevent the goal, 3-2 Rangers. All the pressure was now on Lewis Burgess, score & it would be blue ribbons on the cup. Lewis stepped up, gave the ‘keeper the eyes, then sent him the wrong way as the ball struck the onion bag. Unbelievable – Worplesdon Rangers cup winners!
Every single player deserved the win on this performance. From the back Charlie Chilton made crucial saves, including that penalty. Captain Jonny O’Shea and Dan Ghezelbash had standout performances in the centre of defence, never allowing the opposition a clear shot at goal. Full backs Eoin Newman and Ben Hellett were faultless in their ability to stop the pacey Wallington wingers from putting in crosses, ably assisted by David Sarney who made a last ditch clearance off the line in normal time. The midfield duo of Josh Barry & Conor Stillwell didn’t stop running all game, winning balls, assisting in defence and getting involved in the attacks – they are the heartbeat of the team & have been all season. The wide players, Lewis Burgess, pace and a great eye for a pass, Josh Francis, up and down the flank, always looking to beat his man and Ben Cave, fuelling the second-half comeback with his resilience and toughness in winning a corner from nothing. Mitch Bennett quite literally ran his socks off, providing the creative spark behind striker George Rosson, who was a constant threat to the Wallington defence.
One player was missing, through injury, top scorer Tom Griffin – but he still played his part. Remember that inspirational half-time speech – it didn’t come from me, or Andy, or the team physio – it was an honest, no frills delivery from Tom in the dressing room at half-time that got these lads going – Rafa Benitez eat your heart out!
Thanks to our supporters who never stopped cheering for the whole game, Worplesdon Rangers U17 Hurricanes for that vital friendly on 3G & our sponsors Eurest for funding that match, future England ‘keeper Harvey White (we finally did It!), team physio Jack – the lads couldn’t have done it without you, Toby for your support throughout the season, Corin & Michelle for the half-time oranges, Andy Barry for your insight, wisdom and support, my wife for her support considering all the c**p I put her through. But most importantly the players, you deserve this Cup win – well done.