Under 16s Triumph in National Final
It was a fantastic week for Sussex schools football last week, with national wins for both the under 18s and under 16s teams, with Longhill student Alfie Rogers securing victory for the under 16s in the closing minutes of the match.
The Under 16s manager is Longhill PE teacher Aran Hawkins. Mr Hawkins said that the team had to overcome some very strong opponents throughout the knockout stages; after receiving a bye in the first round, they had despatched Oxfordshire (2-1), Hampshire (4-2), Somerset (2-1) and, after finally getting a home tie, beat Humberside on penalties to reach the final.
The match took place at the City Ground, home to Nottingham Forest Football Club, a setting steeped in history and atmosphere to inspire the Sussex players.
As the game kicked off against North Yorkshire, it was clear that it would be close-fought as both teams tried to shake early nerves. The early chances came from Sussex as they looked to take control of the game, but no one could finish it off, with efforts going narrowly wide of the net or straight at the keeper.
Half time came and the score remained 0-0. Mr Hawkins reminded the Sussex team of the game plan, which had largely been forgotten in the excitement and nerves of the first half and they returned to the pitch with renewed focus and determination.
North Yorkshire had also settled into the game and made use of the space left open after a Sussex attack broke down; they released a screaming shot over the on-looking goal keeper, who could only stand and watch as it whistled in over his head. So it was 1-0 to North Yorkshire.
Sussex captain Tom Climpson called the team into a huddle before the restart and it seemed the words he gave to his team mates were inspiring, as it wasn’t long before Sussex were creating chances again.
Sussex won a free kick out wide and Charlie Williamson stepped up to take it. Charlie had put in a tenacious performance up to this point and had been a key player in attack and defence. Charlie whipped in a clever low cross, which was helped across the edge of the six yard box by Fintan Walsh and landed at the feet of substitute Derrick Kabagozza, who placed the ball past the keeper to level the score 1-1.
Towards the end of the second half, the momentum had swung completely in favour of Sussex and it seemed it was only a matter of time before the next goal came. With nothing converted from the promising attacks it looked as though extra time would be needed to settle the game.
A throw-on to Sussex, deep into opposition territory, made its way to Longhill’s very own Alfie Rogers, with his back to goal in the area. With the Centre Back at his heels, Alfie held his ground before turning on his right shoulder quickly. The defender miss-timed his tackle, taking Alfie’s legs and not the ball; a penalty was given and Alfie claimed the ball and placed it on the spot. He aimed the ball calmly and precisely to the keeper’s left sending the keeper the other way. So now the score-line was 2-1!
With only four minutes to go, Sussex held on to their lead and at the final whistle the celebrations erupted and continued pitch-side for a long time afterwards. Mr Hawkins praised the parents of all the players, who have been fantastic in their support of the players throughout the season, travelling long distances to help push the team on.
Under-16s manager Aran Hawkins said: “It felt absolutely amazing to win the cup. We’ve had a few tough games, including the final, but the spirit in the dressing room is fantastic and the boys all fight for each other. All the players have shown massive improvements and I’m sure at least a few of them will get picked up by clubs. I am immensely proud of the whole team”.
Everyone at Longhill is delighted by the success of Mr Hawkins and his team and especially proud of our fantastic sporting superstar, Alfie Rogers!Return to previous page