Updated: Apr 29, 2019
U18 Salvage Cup Final
Oakwood Youth 3 v Bush Hill 2
Manager - Colin Richardson
What an amazing experience and emotional rollercoaster ride the U18 cup final turned out to be.
We knew that we were playing a very strong and talented side in Bush Hill who, in remaining unbeaten in the league all season, were far too good to be a Division 3 side. On the route to the final they had beaten both Sway and Alresford who finished Champions and Runners Up respectively in our league, Division 1.
The first half was a fairly even contest. Bush Hill settled into their rhythm quickly and played some neat football at times and went close through hitting the bar. On several occasions they produced some quick inter-play which cut open our midfield and defence, they looked the more likely to score during the first 25 minutes. As the half went on our U18s grew into the game and had a couple of chances to take the lead also. Half-time was a stalemate 0-0. The second-half would prove to be a much more entertaining game in all respects.
Our half-time team talk was focussed purely on the fact that we needed to press hard and not allow them to play, we needed to move the ball quicker and we all knew that the first goal would provide momentum and give the upper hand to the team that scored it. However, what happened next took Ray and I (and the rest of the crowd) completely by surprise. Right from the kick-off we started playing more direct and at a quicker pace and within 10 minutes our U18s were 3-0 in the lead. After some neat football our first goal came from Joe Biffin who shot from the edge of the box across the keeper and scored in the keeper’s bottom right hand corner. A few minutes after the restart Oakwood won the ball back and a through ball from Biffin set up Josh Ball who calmly slotted the ball pass the advancing Bush Hill keeper. Oakwood’s tails and confidence were up at this point and our continued pressure earned a free kick midway into the Bush Hill half. The free kick caused mayhem in the box and a shot was parried by the keeper to Josh Ball who calmly scored our third.
With nothing to lose Bush Hill started to play neat one and two touch football and continued to apply significant pressure. This pressure resulted in a free-kick being awarded on the edge of the box; the resulting free kick was rifled home at great speed through a gap in the wall, our keeper had no chance. This goal changed the momentum of the game and Bush Hill were firmly on the front foot, attacking at every opportunity. With seven minutes to go their striker got in behind our defence and shot across Aiden, who despite getting a hand to the ball could not push the ball around the post, such was the power in the shot. We were aware that there was going to be an additional 5 minutes added time but this seemed like forever to us coaches and the team. Bush Hill kept pushing and continued to pile on the pressure, attack after attack. Dogged defending and last gasp tackles were reigning in as Oakwood were working hard collectively for one another, they did not want extra time. A free kick offered an opportunity for Bush Hill in added time only for our keeper to make a save. In the dying minutes they pressed hard and hit the bar twice, it was hard to watch as managers and coaches, thankfully we held on!
Our team had worked their socks off and in opinion mind represented the Oakwood badge with pride, both Ray and I are proud to be involved with this group of players, who are not only a team but a group of great mates. Man-of the match was Oakwood’s Josh Ball closely followed by Oakwood’s Jordan Aldridge who had an exceptional game. That said the rest of the team were sensational, particularly with their togetherness, teamwork and desire to work for one another. This season they have surpassed all expectations after a slow start to the season, finishing fourth in Division 1 and winning the U18 Salvage cup. They were all totally committed to continuing the success of the Oakwood family. U18 is a difficult age to manage as you do not know what you are getting week on week. That said, we never has less than 12 players on match days such was the commitment of this group of players.
Finally the U18s would like to pass on our congratulations to all the younger Oakwood teams who have brought home the trophies and titles this season, COYO.