The final turned out to be the most exciting spectator event and was probably one of the toughest and closest matches we have played – a fitting end to the 10-year journey that the Goats have been on. Of the 34 teams entered from all around Cornwall, for the second year running at the final whistle, the boys were the last ones standing – and I mean that literally.
The last match of the season and then the end of Youth Football for all these lads as now they would be too old to play another season at U16, so whatever the result it was always going to be a memorable day. Our opponents had got to the final by beating Charlestown in their Semi Final 4-2 so we knew we were in for a tough match (and last year’s U-15 County Cup match for past reference).
Matt and I in the team talk tried to stress the correct balance of enjoyment, determination and intelligence or ‘gamecraft’. We tried to get them to visualize various scenarios and then what they might think to do next. If ‘winning’ – to think how to play the remaining time, and if ‘losing’ to remember they already know how to play football and to just play to their strengths and not panic.
Unusually we started comfortably enough and were soon moving the ball around on what was a very worn and bobbly pitch. 10 minutes into a good passage of play saw us bring the ball out from the back and with 1 or 2 touch football a cross from Cam saw Tom ease the ball over the GK and into the net.
However, while we were 1-0 up Aaron, unfortunately had a hard knock and needed to come off and early substitution had to be made. And just before half time Yeshe suffered a reoccurring injury to his ankle and had to come off. So another early permanent substitution and no more players left on the bench. We now knew we would face a tough 2nd half and although we had the match under control, we were prone to give away a few too many corners. Callington Colts were tall players. But for the last few weeks, we had been getting Danny to improve on his jumping for the crossed ball and be more dominating in the 6yrd box. He comfortably dealt with Callington crosses into the box. We went into half time 1-0, which perhaps was not enough, considering the chances we had created.
For the second half, Callington were inevitably going to come out hard and confident. They could see we had no more players and would have to survive the half by sheer grit. In the discussion at the half time, we talked about the need to not fall back but to defend as high up the pitch as possible, to us our final third as a dead, sterile zone where Dale and Danny could sweep up any balls over the top or through channels. However plans and implementation are two different things. The bumpy hard clay pitch with sparse grass was not allowing any controlled possession of the ball so we really struggled.
On numerous occasions, we rode our luck but the ball did not go in our net, and with only seconds to go we got a free kick on the centre line. Matt and I breathed a sigh of relief. We might actually hold out. However while Matt and I might have settled for 1-0 win, this was not the universal view in the Goats, and instead of playing the ball back to Danny or up to Darren at the corner flag to run down the clock, the majority of the team lined up in the box to receive the free kick and score another goal. Well, football being football and perhaps some hubris, the ball went forward into the mixer, but unfortunately , or us Callington got control and brought the ball out rapidly and after 2 desperate saves and deflections off the line they placed the ball into the corner of our net! Well – Callington’s celebrations started !!! They had equalized with the last kick of the match.
EXTRA Time – We just had to hold firm and not concede. Each player had to stay calm, and survive the inevitable fatigue. For thirty minutes we kept the game as quiet as we could and reached the end of Extra time. We went into the penalties confident. To quote Donald Trump “we have both the best penalty takers, the best GK, the best. ” What could go wrong?
In our final training session last Tuesday we perhaps had a premonition of the future! With only 13 going to the match and there was always the possibilities of Penalties so we knew we had to practice – so for 60 minutes, we spent taking penalty after penalty in preparation for this moment.
With Aaron and Yeshe off the pitch, 2 of our penalty takers were not available so Lucas and Lennon stepped forward with Lucas insisting as Captain he take the last of the 5.
Callington started and had the slight edge on the probability. Andrea slotted the first reply.
Callington’s 2nd missed with the ball striking the post.
and Dale confidently placed the ball wide
Callington scored their 3rd but Tom unfortunately did not unleash his hardest shot, so was saved. However his goal in the first half had got us here in the first place.
Callington missed and Lennon placed his well
Callington scored making in 3-3 with Lucas only needing to score to win.
With all the pressure and tension of the day he stepped forward and scored. A real Captain’s performance.
So proud of you all. Danny commanding in goal. Dale, Lennon and Liam solid and organised at the back. Aaron, Darren and Cam up and back attacking and defending with quality. Lucas, Toby and Andreas tireless, dominating the midfield. Scott, Yeshe and Tom running their defence ragged and creating openings.
Brilliant…well done. 34 teams, 1 winner! ⚽🏆⚽
While I don’t know too much about Callington, it takes two to make a great final and the Callington Colts played their part in a well-contested match, and on another day they could have won. Thank you to Dan Harvey and all at Callington Colts for a great match and I hope we all meet up over the coming years and the best of luck in the future.