The Gloucestershire County Youth League championship ended up going down to the wire with a play-off between the top two teams on Thursday at Lydney Town’s ground.
But before that on Sunday, Longwell Green won 6-3 at home to Tuffley Rovers and guaranteed that the latter would finish in the bottom two. Tuffley took an early lead in this match but were pegged back when stand in keeper Toby Watson equalised from the penalty spot. Longwell then took the lead when a free kick from the half way line by Toby Clifton eluded everyone and ended in the Tuffley net. Liam Oswin extended Longwell Green’s lead when the Tuffley keeper saved from him in a one on one situation, but the ball rebounded for Oswin to score. Tuffley made the score 3-2 before half time when a clearance punch by Watson in the Longwell goal was struck home. In the second half Longwell Green restored their two goal lead as Oswin scored from close range after a pin point cross from Tim Summerhill, before Watson netted his second penalty of the match. Charlie Smith stretched Longwell’s lead to 6-2 before Tuffley Rovers netted late in the match to complete the scoring when a free kick was deflected into Longwell Green’s net.
Fownhope and Thornbury Town played on Monday evening in a match that Thornbury had to win to keep alive their League Championship hopes. With defences on top there was no score in the first half.
The second half started with Thornbury having a couple of half chances to go in front. It was however Fownhope who struck first with a route one goal when a long kick from the Fownhope keeper put Adam Webb clean through and he slotted passed the Thornbury keeper comfortably. Fownhope held this lead until the last 20 minutes when after hitting the bar, Thornbury scored with almost the next attack with interplay from Joe Guest and Zak Gaston slicing through the Fownhope defence before Josh Pirie’s back heel allowed Guest to score with a shot on the angle into the far corner. Thornbury committed men forward in search of a winner and they were rewarded with five minutes to go when the referee awarded a penalty which James Thomas despatched. In the remaining five mniutes Fownhope threw everything at Thornbury and created two further chances one which was saved on the line.
Following the game on Monday Frampton United and Thornbury Town finished the League season in the top two places but level on points. Under the FA Standard Code of Rules introduced this season in youth football a play-off was necessary, and this took place on Thursday at Lydney Town.
The game, which was played on a beautiful evening, opened brightly with a Frampton attack in the first minute being thwarted by the Thornbury keeper heading the ball away just outside his box. But the first real chance came in the 8th minute when a corner to Thornbury was headed towards goal and cleared off the goal line. Five minutes later a Frampton cross from the right was also headed towards goal but the Thornbury keeper parried the ball and it was eventually cleared.
The game settled down to a rhythm, but there were chances for both sides and on 38 minutes a Thornbury corner was headed into the net by Josh Pirie to open the scoring. Three minutes later Thornbury doubled their lead when James Thomas rifled in a shot.
2-0 at the interval and the odds were heavily stacked in favour of Thornbury Town, but Frampton came out for the second half fired up and took control of large patches of the game. Nevertheless, Thornbury were always a threat on the break and exactly half way through the second half Thornbury had a corner which resulted in a shot hitting the inside of the post before Frampton’s keeper gathered the ball threw it out to the right and started an attack that ended with Nathaniel Wood beating three Thornbury defenders before putting the ball into the net to cut the deficit to a single goal.
The equaliser came 15 minutes later when Nathan Dennis came up from the back and found the net after a scramble in the Thornbury penalty area.
How would Thornbury react to having their two goal lead taken away? Well they had time for two late efforts, the second of which came right at the end of the 90 minutes. Thornbury took a free kick 30 yards out on the left which floated into the penalty area where it was headed towards the goal. The Frampton keeper threw himself to the right to get a hand on the ball at ground level on the goal line, from whence it went to safety. A splendid move followed by an outstanding save.
At the end of 90 minutes the game was level at 2-2 and the penalty shoot out started. Ten penalties all hit the back of the net, which under the circumstances was exceptional. Frampton then netted their sixth penalty, but Thornbury’s sixth struck the underside of the cross bar and bounced back into play.
Congratulations to Frampton who achieved their first ever Gloucestershire County Youth League championship, with commiserations to Thornbury, who as runners up also achieved their highest finish in the League.