Categories: General Date: May 25, 2018 Title: U18s v MerseysideU18s Northern Counties Final v Merseyside
Ashington CFC generously agreed to host the U18 Boys Final against Merseyside, who had knocked Northumberland out of the national ESFA Trophy earlier in the season. This time, North got off to a dream start in their first attack as a cross from Mark Jacques (Monkseaton) deceived the goal-keeper who could only tip it onto the bar; Connor Walker (Monkseaton) was on hand to score from close range. Northumberland were in control and a spell of inter-passing led to powerful shot from Walker going narrowly wide. Merseyside gradually came into the game and some slack defending gave a chance to their ever-dangerous centre forward Kielty, who made the score 1-1. A free-kick for the visitors from distance then went narrowly wide before Kielty escaped again and crossed for a point-blank header to be saved by North. keeper Will Hogarth (Ponteland), who recovered to deflect the shot on the rebound over the bar.. This proved to be a pivotal moment in the match, because a minute later Merseyside lost possession in their own half allowing Jake Jensen (Monkseaton) to thread a pass through to Jack Butler (KEVI Morpeth) who advanced into the penalty-area and, under heavy pressure from a defender, kept his composure to clip the ball past the oncoming keeper and into the net. Northumberland 2-1 up at half time.
The second half gave opportunities to both teams and Hogarth did well to palm a deep cross out for a corner, while at the other end a long ball was headed down by Jake Cairns (Monkseaton) for Jamie Beckwith (Ponteland) to volley narrowly over the top. A cross gave Vinnie Proudlock (QEHS Hexham) a half-chance, but the awkward bounce forced a miscue while Merseyside retaliated when two North. defenders failed to intercept the ball, allowing Fitzgerald to strike a fierce shot from the left which was heading for the top corner until Hogarth produced another top class save to turn it round the post and then had to be down quickly to field a well struck attempt from the resulting corner. With time running out, great work by Jack Ramsey (Monkseaton), Beckwith and the whole defence continued to blunt the visitors’ attack, although a free-kick produced a header just wide and even with the final touch a chance went narrowly past the post. A thrilling game saw Northumberland lift the Cup by the narrowest of margins after a wonderful advert for Inter-County Schools Football.