RUGBY TOWN: Victory for under 17s

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Town win County Cup in style

Rugby Town 5 AFC Smethwick 1

The journey for County Cup glory came to an end at County headquarters on Sunday when Rugby Town U17s became the well deserved Sunday Youth Birmingham FA County U18s Champions.

Supporters numbering 100 plus left Kilsby Lane in monsoon conditions wondering if the game will be played at all but those fears were gone once we seen the facility and the almost perfect pitch.

AFC Smethwick came into this game on a 20 month unbeaten record and a similar record was held by the Rugby lads. Something had to give.

The game it self was played in awful conditions with torrential rain and driving winds but it was Town who adapted most to them totally controlling the 90 minutes

Rugby Town stuck to the game plan that has served them so well this season. With a 4-4-2 formation and a passing game that most teams just cant handle.

Rugby started the better of the two teams, playing with the wind in the first half. But it was Smethwick who came close early on with a couple of long range shots. Rugby began to start to dictate the game after about 10 minutes with shots going close from Shaun Smith, Nic Evangelinos and Harry Pawsey. You knew the first goal was coming when a Pawsey free kick was headed home by Mitch Boe, but this was judged as off side. The break through did soon arrive with Evangelinos chipping a ball over the defense for Smith to run on to and drive the ball home from the edge of the box off the underside of the bar.

The second goal was not far behind with Smith returning the favour by pushing the ball out wide to Evangelinos, who then drove the ball in like an arrow from the corner of the penalty box. A few more easy opportunities came and went, with the front two missing the further chances to push the game out of sight.

Smethwick were under great pressure now and started to give away silly free kicks, and its was from one of these free kicks that Evangelinos fired the ball home from about 22 yards. But this goal seemed to upset Smethwick and stir them into action. They began to over run the midfield and bring their front three strikers into the action. Smethwick finished the half the strongest with a rasping shot that had Nick Stow in goal diving out wide to his right and palming the ball away.

The half time team talk centered on the question, was three goals enough? Smethwick were now playing with the wind.

So all change to the 4-5-1 formation with two midfielders sitting deep to defend. This worked a treat, with Smethwick having to shoot from distance all the time. Although Rugby found it hard to keep hold of the ball due to the wind, they did play sensible football with the ball on the ground at all times. So while under pressure at the back, it was Mitch Boe who gathered the ball and made sure it still found its way out wide to Shane Osborne, who had a cracking half with most the attacks building through him.

Osborne was now running riot with the ball and one of the defenders in desperation grabbed his shirt and pulled him down.

Step up Man of the Match Nic Evangelinos for the penalty and he completed his well deserved hat trick. There were now some tied looking players out there who had given there all, so on came three substitutes with fresh legs.

It was one of these substitutes Alex Cafearo who then latched onto another Osborne cross and scored at the near post with his first touch of the ball. This really was game over, as Town went down to 10 men through injury. To be fair Smethwick took advantage and scored their consolation goal 2 minutes from the end.

There were some men performances out there today especially in the second half with Mitch Boe and Dan James marshalling the defence superbly.

But they can’t do it alone credit must go to all the players who participated in making Club History.

Team Nick Stow, Shane Osborne, Dale Harris, Daniel James, Mitch Boe, Shaun Smith, Alex Cafearo, Alex Redpath-Potter, Corey Bains, Connor Shaw, Elliot Hull, Harry Pawsey, KaneFinney , Nic Evangelinos, Randeep Mandair, Joe Chappell,

Goals: Evangelinos (3) Shaun Smith and Alex Cafearo

Mark Harrod - Man of the Match – Nic Evangelinos

PICTURE COURTESY OF ‘THREEFIVETHREE PHOTOGRAPHY’ copies available to order through Rugby Town JFC