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Ashfield - National Champions

Ashfield School 4 – 2 The Oxford Academy

Ashfield Year 9 boys’ were crowned National Champions after an heroic display in the English Schools National Cup final at the Pride Park Stadium, home of Derby County.

The game itself started with some very early pressure from The Oxford Academy who showed excellent technical ability, which was to be expected considering their team included two England internationals. However, as the Ashfield boys have done all seson they showed they were prepared to put their bodies on the line defensively and then attack with real pace when they could.

The first goal of the game was scored by Ashfield as Leighton Platts received a pass from the hardworking Hodgson before delivering an inch perfect cross that was headed home by Tyreace Palmer. That goal from Ashfield was then cancelled out late in the first half following an excellent piece of play from the Oxford boys that led to their captain equalising to take the game into half time at 1-1.

At half time the lads were reassured that they were more than capable of winning the title and sure enough they came out with greater belief in the second half and certainly stepped up their game. Ellis Jackson continued to produce more excellent saves to back up fearless defending from Ashfield’s Robinson, Else, Little and Sloan. It was then another great ball played in behind the Oxford defence that again found Platts and led to the second goal. Platts used his blistering pace to drive into the box but he was deemed to have been pulled back by an Oxford defender and a penalty was awarded. It was the job of captain Sam Geeves to take the penalty and just as he did in the semi-final shootout he slotted the penalty home with confidence before celebrating in style in front of the excellent Ashfield support.

Geeves’ penalty was followed up two minutes later by another typical Ashfield break. After being released once more on the right Platts delivered a carbon copy of his cross for the first goal but this time it was substitute Dylan Spencer who slid in to finish clinically and put Ashfield 3-1 up. With just under 10 minutes to go Ashfield killed the game off following a defence splitting pass from James Sloan, which Brandon Keeling chased down and hit first time to beat the onrushing Oxford goalkeeper. This fourth goal sparked huge celebrations from the players and supporters as the players had one hand on the trophy. Oxford scored a late consolation goal but the Ashfield defence held out comfortably until the final whistle went and as they say, the rest is history.

The team were presented with the trophy by Everton midfielder Tom Davies and then invited up to the Players Lounge in the stadium afterwards for a celebratory meal which was an excellent way to take in and enjoy what they had acomplished. It was an absolutely fantastic day and to be crowned National Champions is a truly great achievement and something I am sure the lads will never forget, I know I certainly won’t!

Sam Stretton – Team Manager

Squad:

Ellis Jackson, Len Robinson, William Else, Ethan Little, James Sloan, George Hodgson, Sam Geeves (C), Tyreace Palmer, Brandon Draycott, Brandon Keeling, Leighton Platts, Finley Batty, Korben Spier, Jez Fewkes, Jacob Pearce, Nathan Bell, Dylan Spencer.

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