Staffordshire FA County Youth Under 15 Sunday Cup Final
Thursday 3rd May 2018 at Brocton FC
New Park Village Academy 0 Hednesford Town Newlands 0 (AET, NPV win 3-2 on penalties)
A cloudy evening at Silkmore Lane greeted the sides as the County Youth Under 15 Sunday Cup title went up for grabs between two sides who had scored 83 goals between them in this season’s competition - and all of them away from home with neither side having played a home game on route to the final.
The game kicked off with both sides full of energy and looking to make an early breakthrough although it was NPV who settled early and had the first effort on goal when Takudzwanashe Ngove struck from the edge of the box forcing Elliot Rudge into a finger tip save, forcing a corner that came to nothing.
With Newlands finding their feet and getting on the attack they almost drew first blood with a well struck volley from Jack Snoddy that was blocked at close quarters by George Oluyemi.
Ngove forced another save from Rudge shortly before the break with the keeper pouncing on the loose ball to keep the scores level going into the break.
The second half saw Newlands on the front foot early on and Alex Groucott looked certain to break the deadlock when he connected with a cross from six yards out but keeper Ryan Witter-Gilpin and the post kept the match deadlocked.
Groucott was again denied by keeper Witter-Gilpin later in the half when clean through on goal, the keeper making a fine stop to smother the ball and recover the rebound.
The NPV keeper was being forced into action far more frequently and he won a free-kick when bravely collecting the ball under pressure from Newlands striker Jaiden Gamble and later from Jack Snoddy.
Snoddy almost broke the deadlock from a corner late on but his header drifted just over the bar and the game went into an extra 20 minutes.
The pace was frantic during extra-time with both sides doing their best to avoid a penalty shoot-out but, despite plenty of effort from both sides, the score remained 0-0 and we headed to a penalty shoot-out.
And there was plenty of drama during the spot-kicks with both keepers making fine saves but, almost inevitably, the deciding penalty came when Alex Groucott and Ryan Witter-Gilpin faced each other with the keeper once again coming out on top, saving with his feet to settle the spot kick lottery in favour of New Park Village.
A cruel way for Newlands to miss out on the trophy but credit to both sides for serving up a dramatic final with plenty of passion and commitment on both sides and great support from the sidelines.
All that remained was for Eithan Stubbs to lift the trophy and claim the Under 15 Sunday Cup trophy for New Park Village Academy.