Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
SCHOOLS' FOOTBALL: Fortune smiles on spirited Vale
Vale of White Horse’s rise to national champions in the ESFA Under 15 Inter Association Trophy was built on a mixture of good fortune and terrific team spirit.
Having already triumphed in two spot-kick shoot-outs, Vale showed nerves of steel again to win 7-6 on penalties against Newcastle upon Tyne in the final at Hull City’s KC Stadium.
Luck inevitably plays a part in such a scenario, but that wasn’t the only time fortune smiled on Vale.
They had lost 1-0 to Bromley in the semi-final only to be handed a place in the decider after it emerged their Kent opponents had fielded an ineligible player.
Proud manager Des Williams, who was ending a 37-year quest with the Vale for the top prize, said: “Somebody up there has been looking after us – I don’t think there is much doubt about that, but we have shown unbelievable spirit and determination.
“It is even more remarkable because five talented players became unavailable at the start of the under 15 season for various reasons, and their replacements deserve great credit.”
Three times Newcastle had a spot-kick to grab the glory in the dramatic shoot-out after the final had ended 1-1 after extra time.
But on each occasion they missed, and Vale eventually emerged victorious after 11 players from each side had taken a penalty.
Jack Ploszynski, Robbie Cundy, Eddie Cavanagh, Jordan Davies, Cameron Taylor, Anthony Martin and Tom White were Vale’s spot-kick stars, with victory finally achieved when Newcastle keeper Callum Bell fired wide.
Vale, roared on by a coachload of supporters from Fitzharrys School, Abingdon, had taken the lead two minutes into the second half when captain Luke Thorne headed home Ross Tanner’s inswinging corner at the far post.
But Newcastle levelled in the 56th minute through Wayne Dunn’s low 20-yard drive.
For the modest Williams, who is looking forward to attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace next Tuesday, it was also a personal triumph.
“It is the pinnacle of schools’ football, the most important competition and every manager’s dream to win it, and very few will achieve it,” he said.
“I never thought that I would achieve it and it means everything.
“It was unexpected, which probably makes it even more sweeter.”
Comments are closed on this article.