Staffordshire Reach The Under 16 County Final
Friday 24 February 2017By ESFA Office
Match report supplied by John Appleby, Staffordshire CSFA.
Staffordshire Under 16 Boys reached the final of the ESFA Inter County Trophy with a resounding 4-0 win over Norfolk at Stafford Town FC.
Staffordshire faced an extremely physical Norfolk side in the Semi Final with the Norfolk players being taller and heavier in almost every position. Staffordshire started with a breeze at their back and after some initial skirmished with the ball being turned over by both sides Norfolk almost took a shock lead. A throw in that had Rory Delap's trademark caught the Staffordshire defense napping and only a good block to concede the corner prevented a goal.
That was one of the few times that Staffordshire 's back line looked like being breached and the defensive unit were outstanding all afternoon and seldom gave Norfolk any encouragement at all. Marshalled by keeper Joe Trevor the central defensive unit of Alex Minshull and Olly Hickman were rocks on which the Norfolk forwards foundered and full backs Owen Hall and Jack Taylor reined in their ambitions to get forward to ensure a solidity that has at times been lacking this season.
Staffordshire Keeper throws out the ball
Staffordshire got an early grip of midfield with skipper Jack Bromfield and Luke Campbell having an iron fist which cut out any danger immediately a threat appeared and both joined in good creative work. It was a flowing move which saw Staffordshire score but when Wolgarston boy Josh Stack received the ball he still had plenty to do and a burst of pace and a shimmy opened up some space in front of the back four and a crisp right foot shot from 20 yards beat the Norfolk keeper as the ball nestled in the corner of the net. Within seconds of the restart another chance involving the Josh and Dec partnership aided and abetted by Ethan Cartwright brought an excellent save from the keeper but the ball was not cleared properly and as it was played into the box , clever footwork from Declan Arber resulted in him being brought down and a penalty award. The other half of the deadly duo, Josh, stepped up and scored to give Staffordshire a dream start.
As expected Norfolk responded and some good work saw them come as close as they did all afternoon when a shot hit the bar and was cleared off the line. It was not long before Staffordshire regained their momentum and the clever rotation of the substitutes allowed Staffordshire's' attackers to keep a high press on the Norfolk back four and Davy Watts added to the Norfolk woes with a third goal. A glancing header from Declan Arber put the icing on the cake to send the Staffordshire boys in four goals to the good at the break.
The Staffordshire boys showed great intelligence and knew that Norfolk would attempt to come back strongly and try to score an early goal to get a foothold in the game but the hard work and excellent team ethic displayed by Tommy Wilkinson, Kyle Johnson Max Cuthbert and Tommy Bromfield ensured that they never got a sniff. Staffordshire could and should have added a couple more goals to underline their superiority. It was an outstanding display from the Staffordshire boys who were twice within a minute of being eliminated in earlier rounds and now can look forward to a national final against either near neighbours Cheshire or the behemoth that is Greater Manchester with their Semi Final match taking place on Thursday 9th March.
Thanks to Ed Mitchell who has supplied the photos from this match, head over to the ESFA Facebook page to see the full album.