Vitcory at Birmingham City’s St Andrews stadium
ECFA National College Cup final
Strachan Football Foundation 1
DESA Academy, Dereham 0
Birmingham City’s St Andrews Stadium provided the stage and Strachan Football Foundation players were the stars of that stage.
Final day arrived and so did a passing performance of relentless quality throughout a whole 90 minutes of football, something difficult to achieve especially in a unfamiliar environment and in a national final but the SFF boys did this.
The SFF players provided a good crowd an entertaining display. The first 20 minutes were tentative with two teams playing contrasting styles. DESA Academy of Dereham Town, Norfolk used physicality and territory as their game plan whereas SFF used their technical passing ability to make a break through.
DESA direct approach did offer SFF some early problems. SFF centre backs Cheno Garcia and Lewis Ison stood up strongly to the physical challenge of the hard working front two of DESA. Ison was dominant in the physical battle and was very good in the air. Sadly Ison’s promising start to the game was cut short as he fell awkwardly and twisted his ankle, resulting in a change.
Jordan De Vos went into left full back, Sam Bethell moved into central defence to partner Cheno Garcia and Aiden Print came across from left back to right back. The change was dealt with well by the players involved especially young Sam Bethell who didn’t take a backward step all day and dealt with the change with maturity beyond his tender years.
DESA work rate off the ball was admirable, they did not give an inch throughout the whole 90 minutes. The SFF midfield three of captain Sean Conaboy, Xiuang Yuan and Harry Reilly were the heartbeat of the game. Their ability to look calm in possession whilst being under pressure was apparent throughout.
Chances were created by the energy of SFF wide players Junior Boyaback and Jack Jurasheik, supported by full backs Aiden Print, and the substitute Jordan De Vos gave DESA even more problems. Aiden Print’s energy and dribbling with the ball from the first minute to the last, his performance was of the highest order and asked numerous questions of the DESA full back.
Corners seemed to follow corners after a continued pursuit on the DESA goal between 25 and 40 minutes but SFF were still unable to break the deadlock.
Half Time: Strachan Football Foundation 0 v 0 DESA Academy
Half time came and SFF returned to field were more patience in their approach to the game and controlled the second half from minute one. The wide players threatened on both flanks, Harry Reilly started to find more space from the number 10 position and was the creator of many chances over the shoulder of the DESA right back.
The flow of corners continued but resolute defending by DESA was apparent. The goal threat that DESA showed in the middle stages of the first half was reduced as both Garcia and Bethell seemed to have learnt about their opponents and began to control them and get a little tighter to prevent them from dribbling.
Junior Boyaback struck from 20 yards, which went just wide of the right hand post forcing another corner. Junior also went close when DESA keeper plucked a shot out of the top corner with a two-handed save to his left.
The assault on the DESA goal continued with Dylan Otshudy becoming more of a threat in front of goal, creating three half chances, two of which were blocked before the goalkeeper and one fizzed across the face of the goal.
DESA had a breakaway counter-attack with the impressive number 10. He dribbled the ball past both centre halves and appeared to be heading onto goal until Jordan De Vos sprinted 30 yards to tackle, retrieve the ball and pass out from the back. This was a key moment it appeared to be DESA’s last real chance.
Aiden Print went on another marauding run, neatly driving inside from right back, beating five players and delicately slid a left-foot shot, which the keeper saved to his right to earn another corner. This once more resulted some committed defending to clear the corner.
As 90 minutes came closer, the work ethic and style of SFF didn’t alter. They continued to play within the gameplan and showed maturity and patience a professional team would be proud of. To demonstrate such calmness and confidence to keep playing the right way as the end of 90 minutes beckoned was a clear indication of the quality within the side.
The 88th minute saw SFF break the stubborn DESA defence. A well-struck pass into Dylan Otshudy from Jordan De Vos allowed Dylan to flick the ball inside the DESA centre half, spinning round into the penalty area and neatly lobbed the oncoming DESA keeper. With two normal and two minutes of stoppage time to go, the SFF boys were calm yet effective with displaying confidence on the ball and showing a clear understanding of how to see a game out.
The four minutes felt like a lifetime, but it was SFF who took victory against a spirited physical DESA Academy side, who did not give up. They worked tirelessly throughout the game but just couldn’t match the quality of SFF’s passing and movement.
SFF became ECFA National Champions, something to be very proud of. A huge congratulations to all players and staff involved.
Team : 1.Lukas Bailey 2.Sam Bethell 3. Aiden Print 4. Xiuchang Yuan 5.Lewis Ison (24mins replaced) I 6. Cheno Garcia 7.Jack Jurasheik 8. Sean Conaboy (capt) 9. Dylan Otshudy 10. Harry Reilly 11. Junior Boyaback
Subs : Max Johnson , Sam Eyes , Ethan Galloway, Ndashu Yokobu, Jordan De Vos (24mins)
For more information visit www.strachanfootballfoundation.co.uk