POSTED: June 08 2019 05:00:33 By Ben Robinson - Hurricanes heroes capture cup in frantic final

U10 Supplementary Cup Final
Stretford Vics v Beechfield Hurricanes
Saturday 1st June 2019 (11.20am)
Ayrshire Road Training Ground, Littleton Road, Salford, M7 3RX
Referee: Keiran Timperley

Won: 4-2 (HT 2-1)
Goals: Henry Errington (2), Amaan Khan, Alfie Rostron

After narrowly missing out on the Supplementary Cup Final last season (following a three-way playoff) the Under 10 Beechfield Hurricanes were delighted to have secured a place in this year’s final. They had only lost one game in their qualifying group, and even that was on penalties, after conceding a late equaliser in a game that they definitely deserved to win! However, the team that beat them on penalties then went on to lose two of their other group games, ensuring that the Hurricanes got the place that they deserved in the finals at Manchester United’s Ayrshire Road training facility on a sunny (but rainy) afternoon in early June.

The final was played a number of weeks after the regular season had finished and, due to family holidays and other commitments, the team hadn’t played a game for a over a fortnight ahead of their big day. They were set to face a strong Stretford Vics team against whom they’d had mixed fortunes previously. The Hurricanes ran out comfortable winners in a pre-season friendly, although Stretford were not at full strength that day. The teams then played out a tense draw in their Challenge Cup group, which Beechfield went on to win on penalties. However, Stretford then gained revenge with a morale-boosting 5-0 victory over a depleted Hurricanes team early in 2019, so the final was a really difficult game to predict.

Both teams seemed to enjoy the big-game atmosphere, and both sets of players appeared to be at ease as they arrived early to warm up before the game. The same could not be said for the Hurricanes’ parents though, who seemed to be equally excited and nervous as their young footballers headed into the changing rooms for a rousing pre-match team talk from coach Ben Robinson and his assistant Glenn Whitehead. They quite rightly pointed out that every single player in the 11-man squad had played a crucial role in getting the team to the final, and everyone one of them would go on to make important contributions to the team’s final performance of the season.

With those words ringing in their ears, the boys proudly strode out onto the impressive pitches, with the Champions League music blasting out around them, and dozens of parents, family members and supporters applauding them on their way. Both teams looked confident and determined, and a large crowd had gathered to watch the game and cheer on both teams.

The game started at a frenetic pace and the Stretford Vics immediately put the Beechfield defence under pressure. However, Joshua Whitehead was a solid midfield general (as always) and the defensive partnership of Oliver Hall and Fabio Figueiredo (who put in some important early challenges) weathered the storm and prevented their opposition from turning possession into goal-scoring chances. As the Beechfield boys settled into the game, they started to pass the ball around and display the teamwork that had served them so well all season. This helped to turn the tide of the game and, with Amaan Khan posing problems down the right and Henry Errington working hard down the left, striker Alfie Rostron was beginning to see more of the ball and his movement upfront was clearly unsettling the Vics’ defenders.

As the game started to swing in the Hurricanes favour, Henry Errington made a break down the left and cut into the box before rifling home the first real chance of the game with a rasping shot which beat the opposition ‘keeper and rattled the woodwork before nestling in the back of the Stretford net. It was a fabulous finish which broke the deadlock and was met with sheer delight on the sidelines from the passionate Beechfield followers.

This gave the players a huge lift and they went on to dominate the majority of the first half. It wasn’t too much longer before another attack down the left wing led to a Beechfield throw-in. Captain Oliver Hall launched them ball into the box, Henry Errington beat his man then worked the ball across the area to Amaan Khan. Amaan drilled the ball in hard and low, beating the Stretford defence and wrong-footing the ‘keeper so that Henry Errington, who had continued his run, was on hard to turn the ball in on the back post to double his tally for the game, and the Hurricanes’ lead.

This was no more than the team from Beech Farm deserved and, shortly afterwards, Daniel Robinson came on upfront and carved out a couple of good chances but was unlucky not to add to the Beechfield lead. As the half wore on, the pace of the game and the lack of match fitness after two weeks off seemed to take its toll, and coach Ben Robinson was fortunate to have the fresh legs of Dillan Caldwell, Oliver Williams and Jamie Maher to call upon. With Oliver Williams operating down the left and Jamie Maher on the right, the Hurricanes continued to create opportunities while Dillan Caldwell helped to extinguish any Stretford-counter attacks with a typically tough-tackling performance.

However, as half time approached, the Stretford Vics created their first real opportunity with a chance from the edge of the box which ‘keeper Oliver Dalton-Bunker did well to keep out as he leapt to his left, particularly after such a quiet first half. Unfortunately, this chance seemed to lift the Stretford players’ spirits and they finished the second half as the stronger team. As the referee was beginning to check his watch, a rocket of shot from just outside the box gave Stretford their first goal of the game as the ball whistled into the top corner. The final seconds of the half were a tense time as Stretford poured forward in search of an equaliser, but the Hurricanes’ defence stood firm with Oliver Hall reading the game cleverly, using his pace well and clearing any danger with some dangerous balls forward. It was a real team effort, which included some important blocks and challenges from Jamie Maher, Dillan Caldwell and Oliver Williams, who all put their bodies on the line, and helped to preserve the Hurricanes’ lead as they headed into half time.

Beechfield had definitely been the better team, and certainly deserved to be ahead at half time, but the Stretford team were in the ascendancy and it took some wise words from coach Ben Robinson and assistant Glenn Whitehead to re-focus their troops and advise them on how best to get back into the game. These words certainly seemed to pay off as the Hurricanes started the second half brightly, with Joshua Whitehead holding the fort at the back and allowing Oliver Hall and Henry Errington to make some dangerous runs forward. Amaan Khan continued to be a real threat as he helped to break up play in the midfield and whipped in a number of dangerous balls from crosses, corners and free-kicks down the right. Alfie Rostron was covering every blade of grass in attack but was being policed well by two big, strong Stretford defenders who helped to ensure that the beginning of the second half remained scoreless.

Again, the Hurricanes were beginning to dominate possession and, although Stretford remained a threat and continued to play some good football, it was the boys in sky blue who looked most likely to score. Amaan Khan, Henry Errington and Alfie Rostron all tested the Vics’ goalkeeper but he stood firm and repeatedly frustrated the Beechfield attack. However, just as the Beechfield fans negam to wonder if they would find another goal, a quick throw-in from Amaan Khan found Joshua Whitehead in the Stretford box, and he cleverly laid the ball off to Henry Errington. Henry went on a mazy run across the box before cutting back inside and rolling the ball to Amaan Khan, who rattled home into the bottom corner to finish off a move that he had started and put the Hurricanes 3-1 ahead.

This was no more than they deserved and provoked a huge response from their supporters who sensed that a two-goal lead with little more than 10 minutes to play might be enough to finish off their opposition. However, this was certainly not the case and Stretford came again, more determined than ever, with wave after wave of attacking football to try and get back into the game. Hurricanes ‘keeper Oliver Dalton-Bunker was seeing more and more of the ball and had to make a smart save as he palmed over the bar from close range to protect his goal.

As the game wore on, the Stretford number 5, who would eventually received the man of the match award from the referee (who did an excellent job throughout) was becoming more influential and probably deserved the goal that he scored shortly afterwards (albeit off his shin?!) to make it 3-2, following a dangerous cross from the right.

This lifted the Stretford side massively as they went all-out-attack in search of an equaliser. It was all hands to the pump in defence as Dillan Caldwell made some important clearances, Oliver Williams put in a number of crunching challenges to stop any further attacks down their right, and Jamie Maher dropped deeper and more central and simply refused to let anyone past him, as he worked hard to protect the Hurricanes’ tiring defence.

The shots continued to rain in from distance though and, just as it started to look like the Vics’ might find an equaliser, Oliver Dalton-Bunker rolled a goal-kick out to his captain, Oliver Hall, who calmly launched a long ball forward in search of Alfie Rostron. Alfie smartly spun off his defender and piled pressure onto him as he attempted a clearance. This pressure paid off as the defender miscued his effort and Alfie leapt into action (somehow keeping his calm while everyone around him held their breath) before coolly stroking home a goal that he so richly deserved, to give the Hurricanes their fourth, and make sure of their victory.

This completely took the wind out of the Stretford Vics’ sails and they were fortunate not to go even further behind as Beechfield went close with a couple more late chances, although that would’ve been harsh on the team in black-and-white, who had competed brilliantly from start to finish. As the referee’s whistle blew to signal the end of a superb final the Hurricanes players, who had all run themselves into the ground, leapt into the air and ran to embrace each other, with both of their coaches, in a fabulous display of their outstanding team spirit. They quickly turned to shake hands with the opposition though and recognised their efforts in a wonderful show of sportsmanship which made their parents and supporters even more proud.

After the game, Stretford coach Stuart Piggott congratulated both teams and thanked all the supporters for ensuring that “the spirit of the game was played in the right way”. He also said “I don’t mind losing a game like that to someone like Ben” which just goes to show the respect that everyone, including opposition coaches have, for the fantastic Hurricanes head coach. The Hurricanes proudly received the winner’s medal that they so richly deserved, and captain Oliver Hall beamed with pride as he lifted their trophy aloft.

This sparked an afternoon of celebrations as the team’s sponsor (The Horseshoe, Ringley) very kindly hosted an end of season party which recognised the players’ and coaches’ superb efforts throughout a year which had included a promotion, two excellent cup runs and a cup final victory in their first full season together as a team. A rousing chorus of “We are the Champions” seemed like fitting end to a fabulous season and the photos, videos and programmes from the day will serve as a wonderful reminder of a day that the lads, and their families, will never forget.

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