SAHA COLTS 1 – Ryan SHREWSBURY JUNIORS LIONS
It took Colts four minutes to create their first chance after a cagey opening playing with the support of a strong wind. Matty received a throw-in down the right wing, got his shot away and the rebound found Ryan who’s shot hit the side netting.
A minute later Colts broke the deadlock with the same combination of players. George won the ball on the right and passed down the line to Matty, who crossed for Ryan to smash home first time (1-0).
Colts created another good chance soon after. George beat his man on the left and crossed to Ryan who hit it just wide.
Despite Colts good start, there was no room for complacency. Lions went close in the eighth minute with a free kick that just went over the bar.
Two minutes from the end, Colts forced a good save from a left-footed shot from George after being fed by Matty who continued his good work down the right.
Colts had a couple of final moments of panic: one which Jacob snuffed out with a timely challenge after Lions broke from a corner; and another where Zen gathered up cleanly after a shot came in from the left after Colts got caught in possession. Apart from that it was a solid start and a well-deserved three points.
SAHA COLTS 5 – Jack, George (2), Freddie, Ryan UP & COMERS FALCONS 0
Colts had a resounding victory against Falcons earlier in the season but knew that you couldn’t take anyone for granted in twelve minutes of tournament football. Falcons had already made a good start to the day with a victory in their first game.
Colts made a lively start with George going close twice in the first minute. They took the lead in the third minute after persistent pressing from Finn led to a defensive error which led to a shot from Jack which slipped through the keeper’s hands (1-0).
A minute later, Cole won a free kick just inside the Falcons half. George stepped up and, assisted by the wind, struck a great left-footed shot that dipped into the top right corner to make it 2-0.
Colts were pressing hard and shooting from all angles. In the sixth minute, George made it 3-0 after being first to a loose ball outside of the box and striking a sweet right-footed shot into the left corner.
A minute later, Finn never gave up on a ball that he didn’t quite control, chased it down and delivered a pinpoint cross to Freddie who took it beautifully and tapped home from close range (4-0).
In the final few seconds, Ryan intercepted a goal kick a few yards inside the halfway line and struck a terrific left-footed shot that looped and ended up in the net to make it a resounding 5-0 victory for Colts.
SAHA COLTS 0 UP & COMERS EAGLES 1
Colts’ next game was against a team that they had beaten convincingly twice last season and started brightly again. In the first minute, Finn hit a good cross into the box but Matty was just unable to get his head to it. Will also was unlucky to see a lovely left-footed shot go just past the post.
Colts seemed in control of the game but after five minutes got into a pickle on the right side of defence allowing Eagles to loop a shot over Zen to take the lead (0-1).
Colts were ruffled and let in Eagles within a minute. Luckily the shot went wide.
The wind had played a part in all of the matches so far and Colts struggled playing against it. Eagles came close again with another long-range effort.
Colts didn’t have the same intensity in their play and struggled to find any rhythm. The curse of the third tournament match struck again as Colts suffered a disappointing defeat.
SAHA COLTS 1 – George SHAWBURY HAWKS 0
Colts knew that this was probably now a must-win game if they wanted to progress to the semi-finals. Hawks looked to be improving in every game and looked a difficult opponent particularly as Colts were playing against the wind again.
A closely fought opening few minutes feature some strong defending by Matthew. The first real chance went to Hawks but Zen made a great diving save from a free-kick a few yards outside the box.
Colts broke the deadlock in the fifth minute. George pressed from the goal kick and dispossessed their defender before slotting into the corner with his right foot (1-0).
Freddie and George were combining beautifully in midfield and carved out a couple of good efforts on goal. However, Shawbury remained a threat and came close to equalising in the ninth minute but the shot went just past the post.
Shawbury continued to apply pressure but Colts showed their commitment to keep their lead. George felt the aftereffects of a full-blooded sliding tackle that stopped a Shawbury cross being delivered into the box.
Colts defended a number of corners well to break the Hoodoo from last week. They finished the game strongly. Firstly, a long-range, first time effort from George which almost caught the keeper off-guard followed by a terrific solo run and shot from Freddie which forced a great double-save from the keeper as Finn followed up.
It had been a fantastic, committed performance from Colts that gave them a great opportunity to progress into the semis.
SAHA COLTS 3 – George 2, Ryan BROSELEY YOUTH DRAGONS 0
Broseley hadn’t won a point up to now so this looked like a straightforward passage into the semis but the opening five minutes seemed anything but so as Dragons fought really hard to retain parity.
Colts had created a few chances. Jack took down a cross well in the box and was unlucky to see the keeper make a fine save. Will then released Matty who ran with all his strength and fired a good shot that just went past the post. Matty also created his own opportunity as he won the ball off a defender and just went wide again at the far post.
Colts’ substitutes were circling around the boss trying to draw his attention and after six minutes George got the nod. Within a minute, Jacob passed the ball to George who outmuscled his defender and slid in a left-footed shot to relieve the pressure (1-0).
The following minute, Ryan and George nailed the routine they have been practicing together in the garden. Ryan played a short corner to George, who rolled it off the outside of his foot before drilling home a left-footed shot (2-0).
Colts were rampant and in the following minute extended their lead as George fed Ryan who then ran from the halfway line before smashing the ball home (3-0).
Matty came very close to making it four with the final action of the game after heading Ryan’s pinpoint corner just over the angle.
After an edgy start to the game, Colts had finished the game strongly and were delighted to get through to the last four.
SEMI FINAL SAHA COLTS 0 SHREWSBURY JUNIORS COLTS 0 (SAHA WON ON PENALTIES)
Colts were facing a side that they previously done well against. The weather had turned for the worse though and rain began to drive in. Colts were playing against a ferocious wind in the first half.
Juniors started off very brightly and came close to scoring in the first minute. Zen was on hand to block from close range and the shot from the rebound was put wide.
Four minutes into the game, Zen made another great block from a fierce shot. Juniors were working the ball around well and Jacob had to produce a great last ditch challenge which poleaxed the striker inside the box as he was about to fire for goal.
Colts battled through the first half and were hoping to take advantage of the conditions in the second half but unfortunately for them, the wind had died down and the sun shone brightly! A scrappy half of football with neither side creating any chances was ended with a free kick from Ryan that could have called into play goal line technology. The keeper spilled the ball and the crowd went silent as the ball bounced agonisingly close to the goal line. Was it over or was it not?
Colts faced another five minutes of extra time and almost went behind in the first minute as a Juniors player drifted into the right side of the penalty area unmarked but squeezed his shot wide.
A minute later, Juniors attacked again from the right and fired a shot into the side netting. Juniors looked stronger at this point and Zen made another great save to keep them at bay.
Colts dug in and got to full time without conceding. They struggled to get any pattern to their play and it’s fair to say that Juniors just shaded it. However, they now had an opportunity to proceed to the final on the basis of a ‘best of three’ penalty shoot-out.
First up for Colts was Will who struck a text book penalty into the top right corner. Juniors missed theirs and George made it 2-0 with a calmly slotted shot into the bottom left corner. Colts knew that if Juniors missed they would win and what a save from Zen to do it diving at full stretch low to his right to keep it out. Colts were ecstatic and through to their second final.
FINAL SAHA COLTS 1 – Matty UP & COMERS HAWKS 0 (AET)
Colts had come up against Hawks a few times already this season and, whilst they had been successful, knew what a competitive young side they were. The first away fixture in particular, was not one for the feint hearted! Hawks had also come through a group which contained tournament favourites, Meole Brace Colts, so Colts knew they were in for a tough game.
The first half was dominated by Colts in terms of possession with the majority of play being in the opponents’ half but Hawks showed their tenacity throughout and limited Colts to three efforts on goal. Finn went just wide after Will’s corner was floated menacingly into the box. George twisted and turned and got shots away on a couple of occasions but Hawks’ keeper was equal to it.
Colts were playing against the wind second half and Hawks started to gain a bit more of the territory. First chance went to Colts, however, with a free kick in a very inviting position which Ryan got on target but without his usual power. Soon after Will met a rebounded corner solidly but saw his shot go just wide.
The rest of the half was a stalemate and the game drifted into extra time. Colts lost the toss and had to face another five minutes against the wind.
In the first minute, Colts’ supporters held their breaths as a shot across the box slipped through Zen’s hands but, to everyone’s relief, went wide.
Two minutes into extra time Colts had a great opportunity after winning a free kick in a good position. George was furious with himself after failing to make the right connection and sending the ball high and wide.
A minute later Ryan swung his left foot at the ball from outside the box and connected well but Hawks’ keeper took it cleanly.
A minute from the end, everyone was preparing for the inevitable penalty shoot-out. A particularly competitive exchange of tackles in the midfield was won by Colts and ended up with Cole playing the ball forward to George. Colts’ Number Ten turned and slalomed past his defender on the right and fired a shot from outside the box across goal. Hawks’ keeper could only manage to palm it out. The crowd held their breath as Matty homed in on goal and let out a huge roar as Matt despatched it with his left foot. The players and bench celebrated wildly as Colts knew they were within seconds of their first tournament win.
The last minute seemed to go on for an eternity but Colts saw it out with no nonsense defending. Cole almost reached the car park with one clearance! The final whistle went and the scenes were incredible. Not a dry eye in the house. Colts were triumphant and finally won their first tournament after going so close on a number of occasions.
It hadn’t been Colts most fluent display of football throughout the tournament but they demonstrated a real grit and determination to win when they needed it most such as the victory over Shawbury to pave the way into the semis after faltering against Eagles and two stout performances in the semi and final when legs were tired against resolute opponents.
Colts players and management team could be truly proud of what they had achieved and were able to celebrate in style at the club presentation later in the day.