RADLEY 3 SPALDING GRAMMAR SCHOOL 3 (AET, Radley win 5-3 on penalties): SPALDING suffered heartbreak in the LB Cup final on Thursday as they surrendered a 3-0 lead before eventually losing a penalty shoot-out.
Goals from Ed Stagg (7), Alex Lyon (16) and Jordan Hayes (28) had the Grammar boys in command at the break.
Radley roared back after the break though, culminating in a late leveller seconds before the final whistle.
With no goals coming in extra time, it came down to penalties – and unfortunately Alex Pearson saw Spalding’s fourth penalty saved, allowing Radley to win 5-3.
Devastated Spalding manager Dave Endersbee said: “With respect to my own team, I am absolutely gutted for them.
“A 30 minute lapse in mental toughness has undone a sublime first half performance, but that is football.
“The lads have learned that lesson in the most painful way possible.
“I must add how personally proud I am too of their performances this season. This is the most fantastic group of players I have ever worked with.
“Not only do they possess high levels of footballing ability, but this is complemented superbly by their willingness to listen, apply tactics and work for each other.”
“Many of the players from this squad will leave us this year to further their education or careers. We wish them well, and look forward to building a squad for next season to mount another challenge for the LB Cup.”
Having previously lost the League Cup final a few weeks ago to KES King’s Lynn, Spalding were eager to claim some silverware to complete their most successful season ever.
And boy, did they fly out of the traps. Just seven minutes in Lyon penetrated the heart of defence, only to be felled by the Radley keeper on the edge of the area, who amazingly avoided a red card. Still, from the resulting free kick Stagg poked home from close range.
Spalding pressed on, and 16 minutes in Hayes flicked on to man-of-the-match Lyon, who burst through, rounded the keeper and finished well.
It got even better on 28 minutes, as a neat interchange saw Winstanley play an inspired reverse pass in the area to put Hayes through. The striker connected superbly to blast the ball onto the post, and, with the keeper beaten, knock the rebound into the net.
But in the second half Radley were a different team. It was 3-1 just two minutes in, as the ball was scrambled into the net from a corner.
Spalding were now looking nervy, so it was no surprise when Radley grabbed a second from another set play.
The Grammar lads did come back into it and looked to have ridden the storm, but with just seconds remaining their opponents scored a dramatic equaliser from another free kick.
It was all Spalding in extra time, with James Barton, Lyon, Winstanley and skipper Ash West all going close before the shoot-out.
The first seven spot-kicks were all successful with Hayes, Lyon and Winstanley scoring for Spalding, but when Pearson saw his effort saved, Radley seized their chance to lift the cup with both hands.
It was a cruel way to end what was a historic run in the national competition for the Grammar lads.
Spalding: Gifford, T Pearson (Halgarth 79), West, Raynor, Cowlen, Stagg (Barton 60), Smith, Lewis (A Pearson 70), Lyon, Winstanley, Hayes. Not used: Roxbury, Woods.
DEEPING RANGERS BLUE U/11s 5
PINCHBECK UNITED U/11s 2
IN this repeat of last year’s cup final, Pinchbeck were looking to finish their league campaign in style.
Rangers started well but United soon took control with Jacko Withers, Hebblewhite and Zack Brown all coming close.
But totally against the run of play a Rangers player scored direct from a corner. William Reith-Hurd replied with an identical goal – only to have it disallowed because an opposing player was tying his shoelaces.
In the second half Rangers stormed out of the blocks and grabbed two within 60 seconds. At 3-0 United were still fighting and were given a glimmer of hope as Withers’ thunderbolt free kick went in from 25 yards.
However, Deeping continued their onslaught and were soon safe at 5-1 up.
In the dying moments there was a consolation for Pinchbeck though.
A perfect corner from Reith-Hurd was met with a sublime header from Dan Gilden to finish at 5-2.
HOLBEACH UNITED U/9s 1
WHITTLESEY JUNIORS U/9s 0
A STUNNING strike from Ewan McCracken kept Holbeach in the hunt for the title.
In a goalless first half the young Tigers went close on numerous occasions, hitting the bar and post as both teams produced some good stuff.
In the second half Holbeach had the kick off – and McCracken put it to good use by launching a fantastic shot from the half-way line past the helpless Whittlesey keeper.
That’s how it stayed in a tight game that both sides played their part in.
The young Tigers are now at the top of the table and only March Soccer school can deny them the title.
Holbeach now look forward to cup final – and a potential double – this Sunday.
Boston & District League
TYDD ST MARY 3
ASH Godfrey’s stoppage-time leveller earned the Saints a deserved draw in a cracking Division Two contest.
Tydd went into the game knowing fourth place was secure, but they still wanted to take all three points.
Both sides started well, but it was Fosdyke who opened the scoring on ten minutes after Mark Greenacre gave away a penalty.
The Saints fought back and were rewarded on 36 minutes when Godfrey’s run and cross allowed Steve Cousins to fire home from six yards.
Fosdyke immediately restored their lead, but Tydd were level again when Adam Pack beat two players and cut in from the left to unleash a thunderbolt of a shot into the net.
Godfrey then saw a penalty appeal waved away as it stayed 2-2 at the break.
Fosdkye started the second half brighter and deservedly went ahead for a third time on 54 minutes courtesy of a spectacular bicycle kick.
But Tydd weren’t done, with Godfrey meeting Mark Garner’s cross in the dying seconds to secure a draw.
Saints boss Carl Wilson said: “This was a cracking game of football and we deserved to get the goal in time added on as a draw was always the fairest result.”