The final match of the competitive season saw our 1st XI travel to Cumnor House. Boosted by the return of Bradley, Luke, Nick and Kieron we were able to field the same line up that has started in all but 1 fixture this season and were unbeaten in the process. Within the opening minutes Cumnor took advantage of some lethargic defending to open the scoring and it was not long before they doubled their lead and the outlook was very bleak indeed! Our task became even more difficult when we lost Bradley, who had been struggling through the pain barrier, meaning a reshuffle in midfield. Another defensive lapse gave Cumnor the chance to extend their lead to 3, which they duly took as a loose ball was struck into the top corner. On the stroke of half time we pulled a goal back as some dangerous attacking interchanges between Daniel and Beau somehow ricocheted off a defender beyond the outstretched keeper’s hand.
A few home truths at half time kick started our match and it was like watching a different team in the second half. We began to apply pressure off the ball, forcing Cumnor into mistakes and used our attacking speed to good effect by hitting them on the counter. Although we created some clear cut chances, we weren’t our clinical selves in front of goal and squandered 3 excellent opportunities to not only pull level but to take an unlikely lead. With 10 minutes remaining a break away from Daniel forced a save from the keeper and Beau, showing great instinct, followed up to fire in off the post to make it 3-2…game on? With the game in the balance we had one final attack which brought about one of the best saves from an U13 goalkeeper I have ever witnessed. To rub salt further into our wounds Cumnor settled the game when their central midfielder was left unmarked in the box to head home.
Although the final two games have ended in defeat our 1st XI can look back on their season with pride and take the positives from winning the Sale Cup, being runners up at the Ardingly Tournament and two semi-final finishes on the 6-a-side circuit. When fully fit and firing they were one of the strongest starting line ups I have coached at Copthorne and I can only thank them for buying into the way I wanted them to play the game. Well done boys!