Whaley U17’s (currently top of Div 4) reached the final of the league cup at the weekend thanks to a battling performance against local rivals New Mills (3rd in Div 2).
The teams were very evenly matched throughout the game and conditions didn’t help with the swirling wind affecting both teams.
Whaley had the most promising start in terms of possession but it was New Mills that drew first blood when a bouncing ball in the 6 yard box, came off a defenders knee, straight in to the path of a New Mills attacker who rocketed the ball in to the roof of the net, 1-0 New Mills.
Unfortunately for Whaley, their centre forward Bailey had to leave the field due to injury but Whaley came back strong and right on the stroke of half time a great free kick from Whaley’s right flank by Gilbride, sailed in to the 6 yard box where it was met by Hodgson who glanced it in to New Mills net. 1-1 half time.
The second half was again very evenly matched with very few clear cut chances. Calvert in nets and Whaley’s back four of Hammond, Prophet, Buxton and Burt kept the lively front two of New Mills at bay and Jackson & Hodgson worked tirelessly in the middle of the pitch.
The full time whistle blew with the score still even and despite the groans of the spectators as they had to withstand another 30 minutes in the cold, extra time started.
New Mills still pressed hard going for the win as Whaley tried to catch them on the break as they worked tirelessly down the left wing. With 5 minutes left though New Mills had 2 chances that could have won them the game, the first when a shot from the edge of the area rebounded off the post and the second, when another shot was cleared off Whaley’s goal line. Extra time finished with the scores even and the dreaded penalty shoot-out loomed heavy.
With the scores at 3-3 after successful penalties by Jackson, Hodgson and Gilbride, Prophet stepped up to take the decider. He placed it to the keepers left who got a hand to it but he couldn’t stop the ball from hitting the back of the net. The players and management went wild – Whaley were through to the final!!
The game was played in an extremely sportsmanlike manner and commiserations to New Mills who contributed to an excellent game.
Man of the match - Hodgson
Details of the final vs Chapel will follow later