North Wilts League Cup final: CCCFC Whites 1 Croft Junior Reds 2 (with highlights) Print
Season 14/15 - Under 11 White

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Second place might be the position nobody wants to finish in on cup final day but a brave Colts side can feel hugely proud of themselves after taking the mighty Croft Reds all the way to the wire on a windy morning at Cirencester Town FC.
It was always going to be a tough ask. Croft had already wrapped up the Division 1 title with a record of 16 wins out of 16 and were hungry for a third successive league and cup double, having never lost a competitive game under the North Wilts League banner.
Well-drilled, strong and excellent on the ball, it is not difficult to see why Croft have enjoyed such success. Possession is rarely squandered and usually won back quickly by players hunting in packs.
But over the course of three games against the Wiltshire’s best team this season, the Colts have shown just how far they have come in the space of eight months. They found themselves four goals down in no time on the opening day of the campaign before rallying to limit the damage in the second half, and then lost a tight, scrappy affair 2-0 at Combe in January.
This time, the gap between the teams was just one goal. And when Matthew converted a penalty at the second attempt with five minutes to go, the champions were clearly rattled. They saw out the win but certainly knew they had been given a run for their money by a Colts side who won the respect and praise of so many observers on the sidelines at the Corinium Stadium.

After handing Croft an early head-start in both league fixtures, it was crucial that the same thing did not happen for a third time. With a slope against them and an awkward breeze making life tricky for the defence, the Colts found it tough to keep possession but did not allow their opponents to settle in the opening exchanges.
Bradley, Luke S and Callum were resolute and Liam buzzed around in support of Matthew in the centre of midfield to limit the supply of ball to Croft’s wide men. But with Brandon M and Luke VDB obtaining little change from a defence that resembled a brick wall and looking rather isolated on a big pitch, the pressure continued to build.
Eventually it told as the ball broke for an attacker on the edge of the box and he was afforded the time to beat Max with an accurate strike into the bottom corner.
Colts were not too downhearted but found themselves unable to make the Croft keeper break sweat before the break, despite Brandon H holding the ball up and bringing others into play and Matthew producing a couple of determined runs that were halted on the edge of the box.
Out wide, Toby, George and Tom tracked back responsibly and supported their defence with some decent challenges and positional play. Their attacking opportunities were in short supply, however, and Colts were left hanging on as the half drew to a close.
Two brilliant close-range saves from Max denied Croft a second but, just as it looked as though Colts would be going down the slope with just a one-goal deficit, the table-toppers struck again. A ball into the channel was not cleared effectively and a Croft attacker squeezed it into the net when the cross came in.
The goal arrived on the stroke of half-time and left Colts with a mountain to climb against a team who had kept eight clean sheets in their previous ten matches.
Just as they did in their away league clash with Croft, the Colts ‘won’ the second half and certainly had the edge in the final 15 minutes.
Croft had a goal disallowed for offside and were only denied a third goal by a couple of brilliant last-ditch tackles from Bradley and a brave header that left Callum with a bump on the head.
Colts needed to abandon their defensive shape in search of a way back into the contest, though, and Luke S moved forward from his deep-lying midfield role to feed the strikeforce and widemen.
George and Luke VDB made yards down the flanks, Liam was here, there, and everywhere in the centre of the park and Brandon M worked tirelessly against an impressive defensive duo as Colts finally began to create chances from a succession of set-pieces late in the game.
When a Croft player handled Bradley’s inswinging free-kick under pressure from Tom and Matthew, the referee pointed to the spot. Matthew’s initial penalty was saved and scrambled behind but a re-take was ordered due to infringement. He made no mistake the second time around, coolly finding the corner of the net to make it game on for the final five minutes.
Croft were forced to head Matthew’s free-kick behind under pressure and survived a couple of other scares before the final whistle blew. They fully deserved to lift the silverware once again and the Colts’ congratulations go to them.
Despite a second cup final defeat in the space of two weeks, there were only smiles on the faces of the sporting runners-up this time as they milked the applause and cheers of a travelling army who provided tremendous backing from the stand throughout.
They had done their very best, played a full part in a wonderful occasion – organised superbly by the North Wilts League – and run an awesome team very, very close.
Two cup finals equals one amazing season and more memories that will last a lifetime. Regardless of the result on the day, nobody can take that away from a very special group of boys who were an absolute credit to their club, coaches, parents and themselves.
MOM: Bradley.

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Child Welfare Officer


Mike Poole

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