On a sun drenched morning at Barnet FC Hares Youth Under 14’s were appearing in there first cup final and following a lively coach trip down and an impressive set up the stage was set for what can only be described as a nail biting game.
Early Hares pressure was constant with both Tom Ciarla and Roy Devlia coming close, then on 10 mins a neat attack saw Tom upended just outside the box. Ben Leader stepped up and fired an unstoppable shot in the top corner to give us a deserved lead. Ware looked dangerous, but defensively we were very sound with Harry Ciarla, Mitchell Winkworth and James Monk as well as Ben Leader looking strong throughout. 5 mins later a quick break down the right with Thomas Gregory and Robbie Pear feeding in Tom Ciarla well who then finished with aplomb……… 2 up in 15 minutes it could not have gone better.
Then an injury to Ben forced him off for a while, but following a quick re-shuffle Ware had a breakaway and pulled one back straight away. We showed great character and managed to repel further Ware attacks with George Pear making at least two simply stunning saves, last ditch tackles from Harry C and Alex Cook, with good closing down from both George Davey and Nathan Crouch. Then with 10 mins to go until halftime a sweeping move saw Elliott Higginbotham win the ball in central midfield, passed to Jordan Fort who swept a cross field ball that found Tom Ciarla on the edge of the box and struck a superb volley (Van Basten style) from the edge of the box to regain our two goal advantage.
Unfortunately though a couple of lapses in concentration and not back tracking enabled Ware to score two quick goals just before halftime to draw level.
The halftime break came at a good time and enabled further instructions to be given and the second half saw us once again dominate the early part with Elliott, Tom G and Lewis Whittle all at the heart of our midfield and attacking play. The game swung from one end to the other with George Pear pulling off another couple of outstanding saves, but at the other end we came close with Roy Devlia and Tom G, Joe Coffey kept the width down the left and created a couple of near chances as well, Josh Lucas ran tirelessly up front to give the midfield a breather, then with 15 to go, Tom C was again put through went round the defender and smashed the ball home from an acute angle to send us 4-3 up. The large crowd we had amassed were delirious and noisy at the prospect of the win.
Ware kept piling on the pressure but again we held firm. Unfortunately though, further injuries and tiredness set in and again meant some re-organisation, we then forced a couple of saves and corners, but with only 5 mins to go, Ware broke free and a neat move saw them score well to pull it back to 4 – 4. With extra time looming, we almost reverted back to the original line up which clearly paid off. Once again the boys showed great character, in the final minute we battered Ware’s goal the keeper pulled off a good save giving us a corner. The ball floated over by Lewis saw Ben rise above everyone to head powerfully home for what proved to be the winner in the end.
Great celebrations ensued, it was a great game and well deserved victory without doubt. The whole squad showed great character throughout and were a credit to themselves, their parents, the team and of course the club.
From a team that finished bottom of the league last year with 4 points, to narrowly missing out on top spot this season and now winning the divisional cup final it shows what a bit of hard work and effort can achieve as we had put in a lot of work in the run up, with extra training sessions and specific coaching re corners and free kicks etc that all definitely paid off in the end.
Special thanks to the tremendous support we got as well, at least double What Ware had and to Steve Leader for assisting on the day as well, he was a great help for sure.
A very proud manager indeed !