Stourbridge seal 4th position with rout at Cheltenham
By Simon King
Greight way to finish the season
Greight way to finish the season as the lads scored eight for the first time this year in their last game together at u16 level. A couple of absentees as we arrived at Cheltenhams training ground. Lewis Allen with important GCSE revision, Corey Sheaf sickness plus keeper Oli Cooper still recovering from ankle ligament damage. Having turned in impressive performances against champions and runners up in the past two weeks we knew today would be a much easier task but we showed our opponents respect as always.
A bright start saw two goals in the opening 7 minutes. Dan Harvey setting up Callum Swain for a left foot strike low down. The second saw Oli Hartland win the ball back from kick off which fell to James Welch. The skipper went on a llovely dribble past two defenders and cut back on his right foot before bending the ball in the top corner. We went off the boil and allowed Cheltenham too much space for the rest of the period.
Next period saw two fine team goals. The first saw the strikers link up, James Fletcher feeding Callum Swain for his second goal. A clinical finish (post and in) put us 3-0 up. The next came just before half time. Good build up from the back saw Liam Hurley and Charlie Morris link with Swainy. Great feet and a squared ball saw the in form Oli Hartland smash home his first of the campaign.
4-0 at half time having played ok but Joe Collingridge had to be alive on a couple of occasions as we gave away cheap chances. We felt our play was a little slow and at times lacked the crisp passing we have become accustomed to.
The next period was to prove our worst defensively as we conceded too much ground, didn't track runners and failed to deal with high balls. No surprise that Cheltenham got a goal back. Going forward we were doing well especially down the right, Will Bishop overlapping and delivering some decent crosses. James Fletcher went close on two occasions before getting his goal on the hour mark. His persistence was rewarded as he scored a diving header after two saves from the keeper.
The final period was much better as we passed and moved the ball with a bit more pace. Kyle Peters had his best spell setting up two goals (the first for Fletch who passed the ball in from 25 yards past the on rushing keeper). He also assisted the final goal. A jinking run to the byline and a square ball for Tom Hunt playing as a CF to get his 5th of the campaign. In between we conceded another sloppy one and Swain got his hatrick and 19th of the season. A terrific through ball from Tom Trevis put the striker away who dispatched with power and confidence.
At times we weren't anywhere near our best but it's hard to be too critical of the lads after the effort the boys gave 36 hours before in the schools district cup final. A number of the lads looked understandably tired. The most pleasing aspect wasn't the quality of some of our goals but the disappointment and frustration the lads felt conceding two sloppy goals. Setting their own standards as players and continually looking at improving has become an integral feature to the season.
Myself and Matt cannot thank you all enough for your efforts this season. It has been such an enjoyable 10 months seeing your development. Your approach to training and games has been exceptional and you have shown your as good as any team around. I urge you all to play at the highest level your capable of and continue to learn by being around the right environments with like minded players and coaches.
Good luck in your forthcoming exams - revise hard and get the best grades you can. Good luck to those involved with cup final on Wednesday (we will be supporting) and see you all at presentation next Sunday.