Hartpury Junior Football Academy confirm league title against neighbours
Hartpury confirmed the ECFA Premier League title with a 4-1 win over local neighbours Cirencester. Hartpury looked hungry to play after their three week half term break, whereas Cirencester had been playing catch up in the league due to their ESFA Cup run. The pitch was in great condition, which suited Hartpury’s passing style of football. Hartpury relished the opening minutes enjoying lots of possession. It was on the counter attack Hartpury created their first chance, from a poor Cirencester free kick Turner was able to power towards goal. Turner’s shot was blocked by the recovering defender, but Sankoh was on hand to drive the rebound towards goal. His shot was well saved by Cirencester’s onrushing goalkeeper. From the subsequent throw-in, Wood received the ball in the penalty box and crossed the ball, the cross was blocked and a corner was awarded. The pressure was mounting; Hartpury opened their account from the resulting corner. Hilton delivered an inch perfect ball for striker Wood to powerfully head past the Cirencester goalkeeper into the roof off the net. Hartpury looked confident, applying pressure whenever Cirencester had the ball. Consequently, Cirencester were forced to play direct which was dealt effectively by the Hartpury back line. However, against the run of play Cirencester had a corner. The ball was delivered to a Cirencester midfielder who touched it passed the surging Pearson. Pearson clumsily brought down the midfielder and a penalty was awarded. It was Hartpury’s goalkeeper Filkins’ chance to be the hero; he dived to his left saving the spot kick. Hartpury responded well and on 20 minutes Hartpury hit Cirencester on the counter attack. Pearson hit a sweet volley pass out to Sankoh on the right wing. Sankoh beat his defender and as the second defender tried to slide to tackle him, he checked the ball back to Hilton. Hilton rifled the ball into the far corner with great technique. Hartpury led 2-0. Hartpury were dominating play and another opportunity came from a free kick 35 yards out. Striker Wood fancied his chances and hit a low shot which Cirencester’s goalkeeper did well to smother. It was only minutes later when right back Gough won another tackle against the opposition’s winger. He played a perfectly weighted ball through the Cirencester back line; Turner sprinted through to receive the pass and calmly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 3-0. Hartpury continued to dominate and Wood went close with another free kick on 38 minutes. Pearson had chance to redeem himself with a header from six yards, which he failed to convert.
Half-time: Hartpury 3-0 Cirencester
Hartpury didn’t want half-time to come, it was obvious to see Cirencester had been given their orders as they started the second half with more impetus. Cirencester had switched their left winger over to the right, as Gough had kept him quiet all half. The winger was able to cut inside dangerously, he hit a left footed shot from outside the box but goalkeeper Filkins dealt with this easily. The game became very disjointed with both teams expending lots of effort with little reward. It seemed Harptury’s first-half efforts started to show as their tempo was not as high in the second-half; they were not creating as many chances. Cirencester created their best chance from open play when their midfielder played the ball into the box, their striker managed to beat Pearson and shoot; but his effort sailed over the bar. Hartpury responded to this keeping possession better, and extended their lead with a great passage of football on 79 minutes. From a throw-in, Thwaite threw the ball in to Wood. Wood dribbled towards the centre of the goal, winger Sankoh had come narrow and played a great wall-pass which saw Wood enter the box. Wood dinked the ball over the advancing keeper to extend his tally to 20 goals this season. Cirencester managed to score a consolation on the 83rd minute when a corner was headed in to the top corner by the Cirencester defender. The referee blew the final whistle and Hartpury were able to celebrate their league success.
Full-time: Hartpury 4-1 Cirencester
HARTPURY: Filkins, Gough, Pearson, Poole, Thwaite, Sankoh (Panting, 75), Hilton ©, Liddiard, Osbourne (Fahy, 65), Turner (Hopwood, 60), Wood. Subs: Mace, Parsonage.
Paul Tassell commented on the performance, “The players were a credit to the college today; they showed real unity right from our preparation in the dressing room to their performance out on the pitch. They worked so hard for each other and every one of them made influential contributions to the result. This secured the league title and is deserved for all of the players and staff involved. We are now in great shape to regain the national title and we are all looking forward to the next month.”