It was to be a game to forget for some and one to remember for others.
Several changes were made to Sporting's eleven as two players drafted in from the u18 side made their full A-Team débuts; James Crabbe and Sam Bryson whilst James Price once again filled in for Dan Page in his forced absence.
Referee C. Southgate blew his whistle and the game commenced.
The opening first minutes of the game seemed promising for Sporting as Bailey was allowed to make several dangerous runs but with only Herrera in the box to aim at, saw nothing come of those.
Sporting's defence, made up of Stebbings, Honeyball, Ginn and Bryson held firm and early on Bryson demonstrated a coolness beyond his years as he snuffed out several attempted runs down Sporting's left flank. Sporting were gifted their first real opportunity of the game as a Benhall player brought down Manning on the left hand side of the pitch, Herrera territory.
Although not really amongst the goals this season, Herrera's free kicks had resulted in several goals and as he fizzed in another; Barton rose highest to head the ball back across goal to find Mike Ginn who threw himself at the ball which found its way past the Benhall keeper and put Sporting one up.
“The only way is up” is how the song goes, sadly for Sporting this was not the case as only mere minutes later they conceded a speculative shot that flew into the top corner of a outstretched Price.
The u18 stopper then went on to make several key saves after some woeful defending and kept Sporting's hopes alive until once again Benhall were in and went 2-1 up.
Crabbe's hard work and graft down the right almost led to an opportunity as he linked with Stebbings and Benwell to push up the field only for the move to be snuffed out by Benhall's sturdy defence.
Benhall would pour more misery on Sporting as they hit them for a 3rd before half-time and the result was almost secured when again just before half-time a defensive mix up led to chance only for Price to rise above his stature to make a great save.
At half time Manager Mark Crawford would need to think about some changes.
The second half began brighter as two chances fell for Herrera but both were dealt with calmly by Benhall's keeper. Honeyball and Herrera were replaced in the second half as Manning made the move up front in his 3rd position of the game. Barton had been a peripheral figure throughout most of the game but showed his class when he beat two players to play Manning through only for his effort to be snuffed out. Manning had worked tirelessly in both halves, taking the fight to Benhall and despite his efforts Benhall struck first in the second half.
A further two goals in late in the second half put the game to rest and left Sporting looking dejected and devoid of ideas. On the final whistle Sporting were relieved as a grim afternoon had come to an end.
The individual performances from Sporting's u18 contingent were outstanding however and were commended by all players in the squad. The future of the A-Team is in safe hands.
Attentions can now be turned to a must win game next week as Sporting look to keep their league form running and continue to charge up the table.
MAN OF THE MATCH AWARD THIS WEEK IS TO BE SHARED BETWEEN THE THREE U18 PLAYERS AS THEIR PERFORMANCES OUTSHONE ANY OF THE A-TEAM REGULARS. DUE TO WEBSITE LIMITATIONS HOWEVER S. BRYSON HAS BEEN PICKED AS REPRESENTATIVE MOTM WINNER. THIS WAS CHOSEN ALPHABETICALLY USING SURNAMES.