SADDLEWORTH 3Ds Under-11 yellows had a remarkable victory in the East Manchester Junior Football League Cup final against a strong Curzon Ashton side that had been unbeaten in its previous five games scoring 29 and conceding four.
Early game nerves saw the yellows go one down in the first five minutes, before weathering the storm to take control of the game leading 3-1 at the interval with two goals from player-of-the-match Austin Ellis and a volley from Billy Dodd.
A slow start to the second half saw Curzon peg one back before Niall Grafton doubled the lead with a 30-yard deflected drive.
Some resolute defending from Noah Phillips, Max Gosling and Elijah Butterworth held a confident Curzon at bay for long periods but unfortunately, they could not hold on. Two late goals in the final 10 minutes from Curzon levelled the scores at 4-4 to send the final into a penalty shootout.
After two good saves from yellows’ goalkeeper Ben Alcock, the scores were level and it was left it to the dependable Lucas Clarke to hit home the winning penalty and the celebrations began.
Coach John Dodd said: ‘It was a tremendous achievement, but the hard work was done in getting to the final, with victories over two Reddish teams and Waterloo in previous rounds.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the entire squad and the final was all about enjoying the moment.”
The U15s will be looking to do likewise after reaching their cup final as manager Carl Hirst has found the magic touch and turned the season on its head. Since the return to action the team has gone six games unbeaten.
Victories over FC Manchester (3-2), Urban Soccer (2-0), Curzon Ashton (4-2) and a draw (1-1) with Hyde in the league have been complemented with 2cup victories over Stalybridge (2-0) and a semi-final victory over Lisbon (3-1).
Unbeaten Lisbon had won a pre-lockdown league fixture 9-1 which shows the progress made by Carl’s young charges.
Goals since lockdown was lifted have come from Ewan Hulston (6), Oscar Newton (4), Eric Somerville (4) and Matthew Maguire. However, it is the massive team effort that has made this unbeaten run and long may it continue.
The final will be played at Curzon Ashton on May 31 (12.30 kick off) against Chaddy Park Lions.
3Ds U7s and U8s enjoyed the experience of the cup final weekend held at Curzon Ashton May 1 and 2.
Both age groups have come into football during the Covid pandemic and unfortunately this has meant that their first seasons been very disrupted.
The cup weekend made up for that as all six 3D teams had their moment at a proper football ground and it was well worth waiting for.