Bishop's Stortford Swifts under-16s do the double after beating Ashwell Academicals in League Cup final
Will Davis pulled off three saves and scored in the penalty shootout as Bishop’s Stortford Swifts under-16s beat Ashwell Academicals in the Royston Crow League Cup final to complete a magnificent double.
The goalkeeper kept out two Ashwell efforts as the spot-kick contest went to sudden death, before giving his side the edge with another smart stop down to his right.
He then stepped up himself to convert the winning penalty as Swifts, who had already clinched the Division Two title, were able to celebrate again.
Swifts were the underdogs for the contest in Buntingford, which ended 1-1 after normal and extra time, as Ashwell sit third in the division above, but they started strongly in front of the 150-plus supporters who had come to watch.
Captain Oliver Bilson and his team-mates, in an unfamiliar blue-and-white kit, won their individual battles and the opening 20 minutes were very even.
Ashwell struck first, however, when their winger broke down the left and saw his cross met by a superb volley.
Swifts stayed cool and, after another even ten-minute period, levelled things up before half time.
An attack down the left earned them a corner, which was whipped in towards the near post by Adam Isle-Erraou. Harry Sankey flicked it on and Harrison Garner headed home the equaliser.
Ashwell produced wave after wave of attacks when the second half got under way, but the Swifts’ back four were more than capable of repelling them and shot-stopper Davis produced some stunning saves when called upon.
It was not all one-way traffic as Joe Franzini nearly flicked Bilson’s free kick past the Ashwell goalkeeper and saw another curling effort well saved.
Despite chances at both ends, the match ended 1-1 and went to extra time. The one thing Swifts always have on their side is fitness and that showed in the additional minutes.
As Ashwell began to tire, Swifts were able to pile on the pressure and were unlucky not to take the lead with Archie Cowley, Franzini and George Christopoulos all going close.
Swifts worked extremely hard in extra time and enjoyed 60% possession, but Ashwell held on to force a penalty competition.
With the tension building and the coaches barely able to watch, the players stepped up to take the penalties. Joe Collier converted confidently to score his first goal for the team and Isle-Erraou and Garner also took theirs well.
A couple were missed, but Davis’ two saves meant it went to sudden death, with Franzini placing his effort nicely and Riley Sulsh smashing in off the underside of the bar.
Davis broke the deadlock by keeping out another Ashwell attempt, before he sparked huge celebrations by sticking away the winning penalty himself.
Squad: Will Davis, Adam Pinnington, Patrick Sankey, Archie Cowley, Riley Sulsh, Joseph Collier, Harry Sankey, Oliver Bilson (c), Finlay Butler, Jamie Williams, Adam Isle-Erraou, Jacob Wilson, George Christopoulos, Kai Churchward, Joe Franzini, Harrison Garner.