Sutton Coldfield Town FC got their hands on another trophy, following a tense affair on Sunday at the Walter Goodman Stadium.
This time it was their under-16s side who were victorious, taking home the Minor Challenge Cup, beating Alvis Eagles U16s 3-1.
Sutton Coldfield looked sharp right from the off, with imperious striker Modou Faal pulling the strings in the early minutes. He found Jake Wilkes on the edge of the box, who played a first-time ball into Matthew Funge. The striker took it past goalkeeper Curtis Howe, but a heavy touch saw him take the ball too far wide and the chance was gone.
Just six minutes into the game the deadlock was broken. Faal again showed good feet to get himself free down the right. His cross was palmed away by Howe, but Reiss Knibbs was there and made no mistake in finding the roof of the net from eight-yards out.
Sonny Parsons then made a good challenge to deny Dylan Green a free run through on goal, as Alvis tried to see off the early onslaught.
On 14 minutes, a lovely lofted through ball by McKenzie Harban saw goalkeeper Joseph Purcell rush out of his area to head clear. Green then went up to win a header and was barged to the ground by Jamie Farrell, landing heavily on his shoulder. This was Green’s last involvement in the game, as medics strapped his shoulder up. Sergio Gomes was Sutton’s only substitute for the day, entering the field much earlier than expected.
19 minutes in, the lively Louis Baker tried an effort from 25-yards out, but it was deflected behind for a corner, which came to nothing.
Faal was proving to be a real handful for the Alvis defensive line, combining power with finesse with the ball at his feet. He danced past two defenders before being cynically taken out on the edge of the box. From the resulting free kick, Funge whipped in an inviting cross which just evaded the head of Jake Lamb.
After 27 minutes, it was the substitute Gomes who doubled Sutton’s lead. A long throw in was flicked on by Faal, and Gomes was there to bundle it home to give his side a deserved second goal.
Faal again showed some trickery to release Funge, but Baker made an excellent recovering tackle to see off the danger.
Alvis finished the half strongly though, forcing several set pieces in dangerous areas. The wonderfully named Pele Hendrickson was showing bags of pace down the right, causing some headaches for Sutton’s defence. On the stroke of half time, Baker whipped in a teasing free kick which was headed just over by Farrell.
It was Alvis who came out fired up for the second half, with Farrell once again involved. He flew in to win a crunching tackle, before signalling to the crowd to increase the volume.
And perhaps it had the desired impact, as moments later they were back in the game. A lovely cross from Charlie Seedhouse was met by Callum Moran, who did well to generate great power, heading low past Purcell in the Sutton goal.
Things were getting worse for Sutton, with Faal going off for treatment. He eventually hobbled back on as they had no available substitutes.
On 51 minutes, diminutive midfielder Knibbs put any worries aside for Sutton, giving them back their two-goal cushion. Knibbs skipped through a challenge to find himself through on goal with Howe, calmly slipping the ball beneath the onrushing goalkeeper to make it 3-1. A real moment of quality.
Farrell was still showing plenty of fight, but this time was on the wrong side of the law. He fouled Wilkes and proceeded to argue with the referee until she was forced to distribute a yellow card.
A fizzing Baker corner found Benny Winkless six-yards out, but he could not keep his header down.
Seedhouse then struck a free kick which was deflected behind. From the resulting corner, an almighty goalmouth scramble saw Hendrickson presented with a great chance to make it 3-2, but Purcell did well to gather.
On 70 minutes, another Alvis free kick was driven goalwards and cleverly flicked towards the bottom corner, but Purcell produced a wonderful save to keep his team in charge of proceedings.
Six minutes of injury time saw another couple of chances for Alvis, who showed plenty of endeavour in trying to reduce their arrears. Purcell did well again to keep them at bay, as Sutton Coldfield saw the game out and became Minor Challenge Cup champions.
Speaking with us after the game, Sutton Coldfield Town Juniors FC manager Paul Brookes was delighted with his team’s attitude and battling spirit:
“This team are a team of brothers. They just never give up. They just go on and on.
“These lads don’t know when to give up. They keep going and going. There was no way we were going to lose this Final.
“It is a proud moment for the club and for all the players and everyone else involved.”