Categories: General Date: 18/05/18 Title: U19: Albert Knox Trophy finalJamie O'Brien with 4 goals takes QE to victory
The Albert Knox Trophy Final brought New College, Durham and Darlington QE together who have both already had success this season and collected some silverware from the NECL.
The game played at New Ferens Park started off as an energetic affair with QE dominating the first 5 minutes of play and setting the tone of their performance, pressing hard and getting the ball forward quickly. BUT – following that – it was New College who had the pick of the early chances with the impressive midfielder Kieran McWaters, Logan Campbell and Toby Longstsaff all testing George Court in the QE goal who pulled off a string of excellent saves to deny the New College strike force. He was single-handedly keeping his team in the tie at this stage. New College turned the screw further hoping to gain reward from their early pressure and Longstaff finally beat Court only to see his effort strike the foot of the post and rebound to safety.
On 17 minutes – in what was to become a defining moment in the game – a casual piece of play in the New College defence saw QE striker Jamie O’Brien latch on to a loose ball and close in on goal where New College goalkeeper Harry Renwick saved bravely at his feet. In the melee that followed a penalty was awarded, Renwick was injured and had to be taken to hospital where it was later reported that he had suffered a broken arm. He was replaced by outfield player Logan Campbell; whose first task was to face the penalty. This was clinically despatched by O’Brien for QE to take the lead despite Campbell’s brave diving effort.
On 22 minutes New College hit back with a good set-piece move straight from the training ground which led to McWaters putting in a good cross from which Andrei Ardelean sent a header goalward only to find Court in good form again parrying the ball to safety. As often happens in football, despite the New College pressure it was QE who proved to be the more decisive in front of goal and O’Brien claimed his second with some strong front running and a cool finish. However, this was still a game that was very much in the balance and Ardelean had another good effort turned away on 33 minutes as New College continued to move the ball about impressively through their central midfield and down both flanks with Harry Stoker putting in some telling balls from wide left. The game ebbed and flowed in this similar fashion as half-time arrived.
New College restarted with the obvious intention to quickly get back in the game, but more casual defending proved costly as O’Brien turned provider for QE’s elusive midfield playmaker Sam Ions to finish and take the score to relative safety at 3-0. O’Brien then calmly completed his hat-trick on 55 minutes to effectively finish the tie and leave New College playing for pride. And play for pride they did with a commendable team ethic they continued to take the game to QE forcing a number of corners and creating some decent chances which they could not convert. Ardelean produced another good athletic effort, McWaters put in a long range free kick which produced a good headed attempt on goal and they refused to throw the towel in completely. New College found replacement QE goalkeeper Louis Keane was in as equally as good form as his predecessor Court
But it was at the other end where the heroics were being performed in front of goal and O’Brien claimed the match ball with his fourth – and QE’s fifth - with a brave near post header from a corner. This was the final nail in the coffin in what was a man of the match performance from O’Brien before he heads off to take up a scholarship in the USA at Drury University in Missouri.
Finally, the ultimate winner was schools and college football as the game was played in a tremendous spirit, governed admirably by officials, Andrew Kitchen, Mark Bell and Phil Johnson and perfectly illustrated by the substitute QE goalkeeper Louis Keane volunteering his playing kit and gloves to New College emergency replacement keeper Campbell in order that he could take his place in goal and Renwick could get to hospital without any further discomfort or injury to him. A great advert for football and fair play all round!