WWFC Hurricanes 1 – 1 Two Mile Ash Dragons
H/T Score: 0 – 0
Team: Evan; Charles, Freddie, Orlando, Rocco (c); Asante, Francis, Harry, Joe, Luke; Tao
HURRICANES ENTERTAIN THE DRAGONS
Hurricanes went into the last league game of the season knowing that a point would secure their 4th place position in the final standings. This was by no means an easy task – the previous league match had seen the boys overcome by Stony Stratford, and last week they had suffered a heavy defeat in the training match against Division Two team Tattenhoe Youth Tigers. Combined with that, Two Mile Ash needed a win for promotion so were sure to be up for it.
Leon and Andy were able to call upon all but one of the squad – poor Ryan was unable to play as he had badly hurt his hand, but in true Woburn style he still made it along to the game to cheer on his team-mates.
The Hurricanes took to the pitch with Evan in goal, Freddie, Rocco and Charles at the back, Joe and Luke in the middle, Francis and Asante wide and Tao up front.
Two Mile Ash started strongly and had a couple of early corners, but these were stoutly defended by Freddie and Joe. Francis then combined with Luke and Joe, who picked out Asante but the ball went behind for a goal kick. Luke and Joe were in the thick of the action and following a headed clearance from a Dragons free kick by Luke, Tao teed up Joe but his shot was saved. The game settled into a pattern with both teams looking to get forward quickly on the counter, and Charles had to be strong to block another attack. Soon after Luke found Asante whose inviting cross was plucked from the air before the onrushing Tao could reach it.
Woburn then won a free kick for handball. Joe, feeling confident following recent efforts, rifled the ball towards goal and the keeper spilled it, but Tao could only push the loose ball agonisingly wide of the post. Minutes later Asante showed great strength and pace with a 40 yard run and cross but although the Lions could not profit, they were getting closer. However, within a minute the Dragons roared back and hit the crossbar from a free kick! Seconds later they were clean through and only a trademark Rocco tackle could halt the advancing away hordes, with Evan saving the resulting corner. Two Mile Ash were now in the ascendancy, and another attack was dealt with by Charles. From that corner Woburn seized the chance to break. Asante crossed, the keeper was unable to gather, and the ball fell to Francis but his shot was saved by the grateful stopper.
Midway through the half and Evan was called into action again racing off his line to make a clearance. Defensively the Lions were looking strong, despite the frequent Dragons raids. Freddie put in a great tackle to thwart a Two Mile Ash attack, and on the one occasion that Evan was unable to gather the ball cleanly, Charles cleared the danger.
The enthralling first half came to a close with no goals, and both teams had a well-earned rest before the game restarted in the same end-to-end fashion. Once again the Hurricanes midfield were looking to dominate, and both Joe and Luke had early shots saved. Six minutes in, and the breakthrough nearly came, at the other end! The Dragons striker broke through the Woburn defensive line, and as Evan narrowed the angle the shot came in and skirted just past the post. A real let-off for the Lions, who promptly had several attacks of their own – end-to-end indeed.
With nine minutes on the clock Hurricanes forced a corner, which Joe looped into the box. The ball evaded all of the defenders and Luke popped up at the back post with a neat finish from close-range. 1-0, and the stalemate had been broken. Could the Lions hold on for the remaining twenty minutes? Sadly not, as straight from the kick-off Two Mile Ash raced upfield and rifled a shot past Evan’s despairing dive. 1-1, parity restored, and the lead had lasted approximately 15 seconds! Leon threw Harry into the fray to bolster the attack, and immediately he was in the thick of the action, with his trademark jinking runs and good link-up play with Tao and the other midfielders. Woburn had not been rattled by the quick Dragons comeback but re-doubled their efforts with further attacks. In one, Asante glided past several defenders but was unlucky not to get his shot on target, in another Luke tried a speculative 30 yard effort which the keeper had to parry before catching at the second attempt. Similarly, Two Mile Ash were now surging forward at every opportunity, and put a shot into the side netting. Orlando came on to steady the defence, and both he and Harry teamed up well on several occasions to cover the left flank.
With ten minutes remaining, the thrilling game could still go either way. Joe had a shot just wide of the post from an Evan clearance, whilst at the other end Evan made a great save with Harry clearing the danger. The Woburn stopper was once again called into action from a Two Mile Ash free kick with a great block, and the ensuing corner was put wide. The final whistle blew, and the two tired teams shook hands knowing that they had been involved in a battle royale.
Well played Two Mile Ash Dragons, who showed tenacity and skill – it is easy to see why they have finished near the top of the Division. Woburn can be very pleased with the result, pushing a very good team all the way (indeed, only the second game all season that the Dragons dropped points), in front of the biggest attendance of the season (40). The team can now concentrate on the summer tournaments and will go forward to Parklands near Northampton in good spirits. Forza Woburn!
9am meet Tattenhoe Park, Bronte Avenue, MK4 3GE ( pitches behind Priory Rise school )
Crawley Road Woburn
University Playing Fields Buckingham Road Gawcott Buckinghamshire MK18 4JD
Match 1: WWFC HURRICANES 0-0 IRCHESTER GLADIATORS
Match 2: ON CHENECKS BLUES 1-0 WWFC HURRICANES
Match 3: INSPIRATION FC 0-1 WWFC HURRICANES (Rocco)
Match 4:WWFC HURRICANES 0-2 IRCHESTER ROMANS
Match 5: PARKLANDS TIGERS AMBER 0-1 WWFC HURRICANES (Tao)
Match 6: WWFC HURRICANES (Harry, Tao 2) 3-0 BILLING UTD BLUES
Squad: Evan; Acer, Charles, Rocco (c), Ryan; Francis, Harry, Joe D, Joe H, Luke; Tao
HURRICANES ADJUST TO PARK LIFE
The claret and blue army mobilised northwards to the outskirts of Northampton for the first of three tournaments to round off the season. Several of the team were unavailable but Rocco had recruited some able replacements from school, so the squad was bolstered by Acer, Joe D and Joe H.
The format was simple enough – finish 1st or 2nd out of 7 teams in the group stage to qualify for the semi-finals – even if the task was tough. On a blustery day with only 12 minutes for each game the boys would have their work cut out against Northants’ finest. The Hurricanes have never played any of the teams in the group, so we (and they) would be an unknown quantity. The first thing to note was that whoever played ‘downhill’ had a big breeze behind them and fortunately in the first game against Irchester Gladiators Woburn had the advantage. In fact, Evan in goal did not touch the ball once! However, despite vastly superior possession and territory, Hurricanes could not slay the Gladiators and the match ended 0-0.
Second up were ON (Old Northamptonians) Chenecks Blues. The Hurricanes were this time playing into the wind, but pressed well and had the majority of possession. However, the one clear chance that Chenecks had, from a hopeful punt forward and lashed finish, proved to be the decider. Chenecks 1-0 Hurricanes.
Hurricanes knew that after playing well but only gaining 1 point from a possible 6, the next match had become a must-win. Up stepped Inspiration FC, who had lost their first two matches, kicking downhill. Hurricanes took the game to them, and a 20-yard stonker from Rocco turned out to be the match winner. Inspiration FC 0-1 Hurricanes.
At the half-way stage, Woburn trailed their next opponents, group leaders Irchester Romans by 3 points so a win would put them back on course. However, they soon fell behind as the nippy Romans no. 9 pounced on a rebound from a good save by Luke. The luckless keeper fell awkwardly on his shoulder making the first save, but whilst Leon and Andy attended to him on the pitch, incredibly the referee restarted the game! Fortunately, the Romans gained no advantage from this oversight, but they did double their lead before the end. Hurricanes 0-2 Romans.
The penultimate group game was against Parklands Tigers Amber, and Woburn decided to go for it. Stung by the bad luck (and poor refereeing) of the Romans game, Hurricanes put on a commanding performance against the joint hosts, and Tao opened his account from a great cross from Joe D. 0-1 was the final score, and although the Bedfordshire boys were reliant on other results to progress, they had played their way back to form.
Other results did not go favourably for the Lions, so the final game saw the Hurricanes playing the Blues – in this case, Billing Utd Blues. Woburn played their best football of the tournament and were quickly 1-0 up as Harry turned in Joe H’s pass. Within a few minutes Luke launched a big kick from deep in his own half, Tao ran the length of the half with the ball and coolly smashed the ball past the Blues keeper to make it 2-0. Just before the end Tao doubled his tally by pouncing on a loose ball and clinically finishing to make it a final score of 3-0.
Leon and Andy celebrated the final performance buying the boys ice-cream and candy floss, and the opening tournament of the summer was over. On reflection, the performances mirrored the weather – a cool start, warm in places, and sizzling by the end (just like the author’s skin), so let’s hope that we have a good forecast for Moretonville!
WWFC Hurricanes 1 – 3 Stony Stratford
H/T Score: 1 – 1
Team: Evan; Charles, Freddie, Orlando, Rocco (c), Ryan; Asante, Francis, Harry, Joe, Luke; Tao
HURRICANES LEFT STONY-FACED BY COMEBACK
Following the win at Bletchley Juniors Tornadoes last week, the Hurricanes went into their final home game of the season against the league leaders in fine fettle. Stony Stratford had surged to top spot with 5 wins and a draw, and looked good to claim the Division 3 title. However, Leon and Andy had a full squad to choose from on a cool breezy early morning kick-off, so spirits were high.
The starting line up saw Luke in goal, with Ryan, Rocco and Charles in defence, Joe and Francis in central midfield with Harry and Asante outside of them, and Tao up front.
Straight away, Tao won the ball from the kick-off, played in Asante who raced towards goal but his shot was just wide of the post – nearly the fastest goal in Hurricanes history! Stony settled, and won a corner which was well defended by the home team. They broke forward at pace, with Francis, Joe and Asante moving the ball upfield until Asante reached the byline – his cross reached Tao but his looped effort dropped into the top of the net. Stony then won the ball in midfield and forced a good save from Luke. However, the Lions had their tails up and a one-two between Asante and Francis led to Asante’s cross being scrambled away before Francis and then Tao peppered the goal with shots – alas, the grateful keeper gathered.
The game was finely balanced with both teams attacking at will, and also resolutely defending – Charles made a great block to deny a shot, and the next minute chased back forcing the Stony striker into an early shot well held at the second attempt by Luke. Shortly after, Rocco and Ryan did well to see off the danger from an attack down the right flank, and Joe was throwing himself into tackles and pressing well.
Ten minutes in, and a Luke goal kick was helped up the field by Tao towards Asante. The ball was blocked and Francis was first to the rebound. His slide-rule pass was pounced on by Asante but he was flagged for offside, a very close call. Soon a similar attack from Luke’s goal kick saw Asante flattened by the Stony no. 5. The referee played the advantage, but Tao’s attempt cleared the bar.
The Lions were getting closer, and following great pressure from the Woburn midfield they got their reward. Asante was sent clean through, and when he was bundled over inside the box by the no. 5 again the referee had no option but to point to the spot. Who would step up? Joe coolly placed the ball on the spot, drove it to the keeper’s right and slotted home. 1-0 and a deserved lead.
Woburn surged forward, looking to press home their slender advantage, and a slick move between Francis and Asante nearly paid off. Then Freddie, Joe and Asante combined but again the danger was cleared. Not to be left out, Harry and Tao created yet another opportunity but the score remained 1-0. Stony, realising that half-time was nearly upon them (and possibly anticipating a ‘hairdryer’ team talk) pushed forward, and nearly levelled when a ball over the top drew another smart save from Luke. The pressure was building, and just before half-time Stony won the ball on the edge of the Lions’ box, took a shot which cannoned off of the post to be poked home by an attacking foot. 1-1, and back to deadlock. The whistle blew shortly after, and at half-time the teams could regroup before the next battle.
The second half saw Evan replacing Luke in goal, with Harry given a breather and Francis moving to the wing. Orlando took over from Charles at right back, and he was quickly into action threading a pass through to Asante whose 40 yard run was rewarded with a throw-in. From this, he and Tao linked well to force a corner but from it Stony Stratford broke quickly upfield and won a corner of their own. Francis managed a good block from the resulting shot, and once more the ball was at the other end of the pitch as Tao’s ball found Asante and the Stony keeper had to recover from a spill to gather at the second attempt.
After a fine save from Evan, Joe won yet another midfield battle and teed up Francis, but the ball was nicked off of his foot for a corner as he was about to shoot. Joe’s delivery was inch-perfect, but Luke’s header was just wide. Joe was involved again as he flicked Orlando’s pass over his head for Asante to shoot towards the busy keeper. As in the first half, the Lions were cranking up the pressure and Francis, Luke and Tao all had shots saved. Of course, a team doesn’t get to be league leaders without being able to respond to adverse situations and from nowhere, Stony took the lead – a quick break, a gap in the defence, a slotted shot past Evan and it was 1-2. Woburn were rattled, none more so than Luke who took a ball to the face just after the goal – fortunately he was able to carry on. Two minutes later and Joe was bundled off of the ball in what looked like a foul – however, the referee allowed play to continue, Stony Stratford had a shot from the edge of the box and it nestled in the back of the net. 1-3, and Woburn could feel a bit hard done by at this point. However, their heads didn’t drop and Luke’s quick feet very nearly played in Harry, who had come back on to bolster the attack.
The Lions’ fighting spirit was once again epitomised by Rocco who executed a superb tackle on the Stony no. 14, then minutes later repeated the move on another unsuspecting away player. With ten minutes to play, the Hurricanes were still pushing, and committing players forward, no doubt feeling that their efforts had not been fully rewarded at this point. Tao went close, and down the other end Charles, Rocco and Ryan had to be strong to thwart the Stony counter-attacks. Tao was then clipped and went down but play continued, with no advantage to the home team forthcoming. A minute later, Woburn’s last meaningful attack of the game saw Joe’s corner eventually find Charles but his header was cleared off of the line! Soon it was Luke’s turn to be dumped on the floor with a move that appeared to be straight from a judo manual but once again, mystifyingly, nothing was given. As usual, each time it happened, the Woburn boys got up and carried on with no complaints despite the physical challenges they were being subjected to. There was just time for Tao to be grounded again and that was that. 1-3 to Stony Stratford.
The crowd had witnessed a great game of football in which Woburn Lions Hurricanes can be proud to have gone toe-to-toe with the likely winners of the Division. Credit to Stony Stratford for a resilient comeback, but the day really belonged to the warriors from Woburn despite the result. The final league match of the season will see the Lions away to Two Mile Ash Dragons, who have only dropped points to Stony this season so will be a very tough one. Hopefully Woburn can finish with a flourish!
Bletchley Jrs Tornadoes 2 – 5 WWFC Hurricanes
Scorers: Joe (2), Harry (2), Asante
H/T Score: 1 – 4
Team: Evan; Charles, Freddie, Orlando, Rocco (c), Ryan; Asante, Francis, Harry, Joe, Luke; Tao
TORNADOES BLOWN AWAY IN DEVASTATING BLAST
Following last week’s 0-1 reverse against the Tornadoes of Moretonville Juniors, the Lions faced the other Tornadoes, from Bletchley. Having played against this team probably more than any other, Woburn knew what to expect – a physical battle against determined opponents. Bletchley’s lowly league position would not count for anything against their fierce rivals, but fortunately Leon and Andy had the luxury of a fully fit squad to call upon, on the lush Bletchley turf.
Indeed, the start of the game showed the danger that Bletchley possessed, as within the 2nd minute their big no. 15 broke through the Woburn defence. Evan was quick off of his line, spread himself well, and the Bletchley shot hit the outside of the post. Soon after, Rocco took a free kick which Francis collected, but his through-ball just evaded Tao’s reach. Woburn were now asserting themselves in midfield, leading to a succession of corners which were stoutly defended by the Tornadoes. However, 10 minutes in another through ball bisected the Lions back line, and this time the Bletchley 15 made no mistake slotting the ball past Evan’s despairing dive. 1-0, arguably against the run of play, but Bletchley had shown their attacking threat.
From the restart the Lions again poured forward, and Luke’s free kick resulted in a corner, which evaded everyone in the box and went out for a throw-in. Two minutes later, Luke won the ball in midfield and played in Francis whose shot was deflected behind. From Francis’ corner, Joe’s deft touch went through the keeper’s legs for the equaliser. 1-1, and the boys enjoyed a breather whilst there was a break in play due to a Bletchley injury.
Leon and Andy took the opportunity to refresh the team as Asante replaced Luke. His lightning pace almost paid dividends immediately but he was adjudged offside when racing onto Rocco’s through ball. Woburn were threatening, and they got their reward when Francis flicked the ball into the box, the defender miskicked and Harry pounced on the loose ball to lash in. 1-2, and Woburn were justly in front.
Two minutes later, Evan’s huge goal kick was chased down by Tao – he shot, the keeper saved, and once again Harry cleaned up, coolly slotting home. 1-3, and the dominant Lions were in full control.
Confidence was flowing through the team – Rocco, Ryan and Charles had looked solid breaking up attacks, and calm playing the ball out of defence. Luke, Francis and Joe had battled hard in midfield against spirited opposition, and Asante, Harry and Tao had terrorised the Tornadoes’ defence. Further evidence of this was provided on 22 minutes, as Joe’s 25-yard shot zipped past the post. Tao was then ruled offside in a marginal decision, but then Evan had to make a save from a Bletchley attack.
One minute later and another Lions corner was taken by Joe. Francis flicked it towards goal but the rebound went back to Joe. He looped the ball in to the near post, and the keeper could only punch it into the net. 1-4, and the Hurricanes had blown the opposition away with 4 goals in 12 minutes.
More chances came and went before half-time, with Asante and Tao going close, but the Lions went into the break 3 goals to the good.
The second half saw more pressure exerted by the away team, as Woburn stretched the Tornadoes defence time and time again, with both Tao and Charles being adjudged offside. Francis also had a shot just past the post. Another goal seemed inevitable, but when it came it was for Bletchley – a hopeful ball into the Lions’ box was missed by all, and the nippy Tornadoes striker reduced the deficit. 2-4, and after looking dead and buried, Bletchley were back in it.
This only seemed to inspire Woburn, and Asante nearly chipped the keeper after Charles’ surging drive forward. From Joe’s resulting corner, Harry’s flick was well saved. With 20 minutes to play Rocco, who had been outstanding as usual at the back, had to be substituted after a clash of heads but it was business as usual from Woburn. Orlando showed great strength in the tackle time and time again, and Luke (who had also taken a knock earlier) orchestrated play in the central midfield. Harry too was twisting and turning, and tiring Bletchley were often unable to live with his trickery. This was proved with a quarter of the match left, as Harry won the ball on the right and unselfishly played in Asante through the middle. Asante made the control, run and shot look easier than it was, and found the corner of the net. 2-5, and Woburn were surely now safe.
Bletchley were not quite done though, and the no. 15 found another way through the Lions back line but just as he was about to shoot Francis’ exquisitely-timed tackle stole the ball from him and saved an almost certain goal. The final act of the game was also the best move, as Evan’s goal kick found Freddie. He exchanged a one-two with Asante, strode imperiously into the Bletchley half, and passed to Luke who quickly teed up Francis but his shot squirmed past the post and that was that. A great end to a thoroughly satisfying morning’s work for the Hurricanes.
Credit to Bletchley who never gave up, as without the benefit of substitutes every one of them put in a shift against the Lions. Woburn can now go into the next game against league leaders Stony Stratford full of confidence. Well played everyone!