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It was a cold and breezy morning as the Reds followed the Blues on Finals day to face a Pennine Black that inflicted an early and heavy defeat at the start of the season, but whom we beat 2-1 last time out.  Roan and Luca started on the bench as we lined up 5a side for the last time.

Unsworth were up for it from the off and made a rapid start with quick passing in contrast to Pennine’s longer ball game.  Within a minute Ben squared to Ruben who hit a clean strike to put us 1-0.  Ben then had a shot blocked before Ruben shot wide.  Connor was fizzing all around the pitch and Pennine struggled to settle.

All the boys were up for it, and when Pennine dead break and round Alfie, Oscar was perfectly positioned to clear the ball off the line.  This raised the tension levels among the parents, but Ruben resumed our dominance with a curling shot with his left foot that just cleared the bar.  Further efforts were saved and the boys finished the quarter on top but with only one goal to show for it.

Connor and Ruben departed for Luca and Roan to join the fray.  The changes to positions disrupted are rhythm for a couple of minutes when Alfie was called in to make a sharp save and Oscar hit a clearance that nearly hit his gran!  

Suddenly Roan sparked into life controlling a pass, turning the defender inside out and striking it well, but hitting the bar.  The pressure built again Ben was denied by their keeper and from the corner Ben laid of a great pass on the volley but Luca shot screwed wide.

Roan then took on two defenders and practically ran through them both, before drilling home hard and low to make it 2-0.  Ben was then denied before some superb passing put Roan through who was denied by the keeper.

Half time and 2-0 to the good.

Ben and Oscar made way for Ruben and Connor, with Ruben taking up the sweeper role.  Again it took some to adjust – Pennine seemed intent on going long to miss out our passing midfield and get us on the back foot.  Alfie made a couple of good saves, Luca went close before a miscued clearance was well volleyed by the Pennine striker who saw his shot hit the post.

The boys looked calm, but the parents anxiety levels went up whilst Chris was doing his best Frankie impression shouting Relax at every opportunity.  More great passing saw Roan shoot wide when through.  The quarter didn’t produce a goal so the 2-0 still felt a little slender.

In the final quarter the subs were rotated again with Luca and Roan off for the first 5.  The game got scrappy and a little nervy, although Alfie was so calm in goal he took time to watch the match next to him even when the opposition were baring down on his goal.

Connor’s energy levels were still high and after holding them out for a few minutes, he was denied on the break by a good save.  

Ben then hit a sweet shot, that hit the bar and looked to cross the line. Goal?  Patrick reffing wasn’t sure, but the man in the coat behind the goal confirmed it had crossed the line.  Far better than those UEFA assistant referees.  Everyone thought the neutral spectator couldn’t be doubted and the goal stood.  Turns out it was Luca’s grandad. Oh well.  It did cross the line and was no more than the boys deserved.

Two minutes later and the game was over.  3-0. 

All the boys bought their A games today.  A clean sheet for Alfie (his second of the season) Oscar and Ben were so solid as a two or as last man.  Connor was full of running and his passing and pace always stretching their defence.  Ruben was excellent on the ball and deserved his early goal, while Luca’s interchange and passing kept the Reds going forward at every opportunity.  Roan lead the line with strength and interchanged with the midfield really well.

It was a fitting end to the season which illustrated the team ethic, hard work, passing on the deck and great football that has been a pleasure to watch.  To that all credit must go to Chris, who’s hard work and commitment the boys always respond to.

Well done all.

By Alan Kemp