The Under 17s – true league champions!

The Youngest Swans complete their league campaign with a win over Bookham Colts putting them eleven points clear at the top

With the title in the bag and with two cup finals to play in just ten days the Under 17s were able to rest a few players for their last league game of the season against Bookham Colts who were hoping for revenge for the defeat the previous week.

The day didn’t start off well for the Walton & Hersham when half the coaching staff decided to have a Sunday morning lay-in making the excuse that he couldn’t charge his phone and claiming that there had been an earthquake overnight cutting all power to residential homes! The knock-on effect was that a substitute match-reporter had to found to whom this match report is dedicated to but who obviously had little regard in trying to save the earths’ trees by writing the report over eleven pages of the notepad supplied – in fact even the local dog-walker gets a mention! The Under 17s have been well supported all this season and this away game was no different, and the hot, sunny weather meant the away supporters could bring out their summer clothes and even wear his and hers matching pink tops!

With the Bookham pitch having a steep slope Walton chose to go up the slope in the first half hoping that the coach’s down-hill game plan could be deployed in the second half. Walton started very strongly showing Bookham why they were champions. It took just five minutes for Walton to create their first chance when Jack Willis put Jack Inkpen through only to see his shot go wide. It was beginning to feel like it was going to be one of those games as Walton came close several times. Slowly Bookham took charge of the game in midfield and soon Walton’s keeper, Andrew Hasker was the busier of the two shot-stoppers. The deadlock was finally broken on thirty minutes when Sam Boyd, playing wide-right, looped in a ball from thirty yards to deceive all the Bookham players, to find just inside the left post. After a good run from midfield, Grant Kelly shot from just outside the Bookham box and again like most of Walton’s goal attempts missed the target. One nil to Walton at half-time and probably the away team just about deserved the lead.

The second half saw the coach’s down-hill game plan put into place. Walton had to be careful though as complacency could set in as one nil is never enough. Bookham realised this and continued to put the Walton defence under pressure. Quite often central defender Jake Dowdeswell was seen to do his job quietly, clearing the ball with both his head and feet. On fifty six minutes Bookham took advantage of a lack of communication in the Walton defence and equalised from inside the six-yard box. Shortly afterwards Grant Kelly came close, linking up well with substitute Luca Wood after a skilful and tantalising run down the left flank. On seventeen minutes Walton won a free-kick on the left. Sam Boyd floated the ball to the far post for Kane Oughton to head down for Luca Wood to side-foot volley Walton’s second goal. This gave a lift to Walton and soon Bookham were under pressure as Luca Wood found space down the left. As Walton just couldn’t hit the target Bookham took control of midfield again and it needed strong defending from Walton’s back-four and important saves from Andrew Hasker between the sticks to keep Bookham’s goal tally to one. With ten minutes to go Grant Kelly picked up the ball in midfield and jinxed his way past three players to the edge of the Bookham box, and with his team-mates rubbing their eyes in disbelief at seeing a typical Lionel Messi run, the last line of Bookham defenders just managed to prevent a certain goal. Two minutes into injury time Kane Oughton messed up Bookham’s play in midfield and set up Luca Wood to make another one of his skilful runs turning the right-back inside and out to put in substitute Connor Blanchard, making his second appearance of the season, to slip the ball past the Bookham keeper to make the final score three one to Walton.

A confident performance from the Youngest Swans showing that the squad has strength in depth and setting up the players for the biggest game of their season when they take on Epsom & Ewell Colts in the Surrey County FA Under 18 Youth Cup Final on 11th May 2011.

The Man of the Match award was shared by Jake Dowdeswell for his unsung hero performance in defence and Luca Wood for his lively and skilful performance.

Walton finish their league campaign with fifty nine points from a possible sixty six. A well-deserved title, and not bad considering this was their first season playing together. Their future is bright, their future is the red of Walton & Hersham Under 18 Youth Team.

Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and your ability. It’s now in our own hands!

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