Redditch United U16 ran out 4-0 winners to etch their name as champions in the 2022 Minor Challenge Cup.
Team Line Ups
AFC Gornal U16: 1 Sangha, 5 Howell, 6 Payton, 15 Bache, 4 Bradfield, 12 Hill, 10 Lomas, 2 O Neil, 16 Moses, 17 Newell, 9 Worton. Subs: O Mahoney, Dhanda, Patel
Redditch United U16: 1 Sprason, 17 Flemming, 3 Doyle, 5 Manning, 15 Wyton, 6 Bizabani, 8 Powell, 10 Gillion, 9 Smallman, 16 Reka, 11 Ricketts. Subs: Manning, McMahon, Lindsey, Fitzsimons, Livingstone
As the weather played the perfect part in setting up a great spectacle for the game, both sides were up for the cup as they went through strong warm-ups to get ready for the clash. It was Redditch who benefitted from their confidence and put themselves into an early lead in the 3rd minute as Ricketts crossed the ball in from the left and Smallman got his head to it first as it nestled in the bottom corner. They would be on top for much of this contest and that showed early on as in the 8th minute, they had a couple of chances to extend their lead, most noticeably a chance for Gillion who saw his shot from the edge of the box whistle just past the post.
It certainly didn’t take long for Redditch to take advantage of their pressure, as they got their second in the 9th minute from a Wyton free kick which was headed down to Powell just inside the area and he rifled the ball into the net for 2-0. The next chance would fall to Gornal for their first chance of the tie, as Moses had a great opportunity from a flick on by Bache but after good work to turn inside the defender, Sprason was equal to his effort and the danger was cleared. The game went quiet for the next ten minutes as the only real chance fell to Smallman but his effort was comfortably over the bar. However, the last few stages of the first half sprung into life as on the 36th minute, Redditch extended their lead and scored their third goal in spectacular fashion with good work by Smallman to find Reka just inside the box and he calmly swivelled his way around the defender and on the turn slotted the ball past Sangha. Just a short 3 minutes later, they had their fourth as Reka played the ball in behind for Flemming to run onto and he showed composure as he slid it past the onrushing ‘keeper. Referee, Josh East then blew for half time and an end to the relentless pressure on Gornal.
The second half began and the immediate reaction from Redditch was to go in search for more goals. The ball was played over the top by Gillion to Reka who wrestled with Bradfield and won a free kick on the edge of the box, resulting in the latter receiving a yellow card. The resulting free kick was taken by Ricketts by his low left-footed drive was blocked by the wall. There was another quiet ten minutes spell to replicate the one in the first half, before Redditch started to get the better of play again and almost had their fifth when Gillion played a neat ball through to McMahon who found himself one-on-one with the keeper but his strike hit the outside of the post. On the 78th minute, Gornal were reduced to 10 men as O Neil was given his marching orders for a foul on the edge of the box. That would be the last action of the tie as Josh East blew for full time, after a relatively quiet second half and no further goals to add to the four Redditch scored in the first half.
The two clubs had nominated their individual worthy of the Club Volunteer award which saw Hardip Dhanda and Gary Livingstone pick up the awards for AFC Gornal U16 and Redditch United U16 respectively.
The man of the match was Redditch United U16’s number 10, George Gillion.
You can view the official photographs taken by Focus Dunn Sports Photography by clicking here.
Extended highlights of the Cup Final can be watched below: