YOUTH FOOTBALL: More double delight as St Neots Town capture Under 18 crown
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town are celebrating a double hat-trick at Under 18 level.
Their current crop of teenage talents lifted the Hunts Under 18 Cup last Friday night following a derby success against St Ives Town that came complete with a dramatic finish.
Reif Clarke turned in a Tom Leagas cross to grab a winner in the final minute for the St Neots lads as they triumphed 2-1 in a tight showpiece clash at Hall Road – the home of Eynesbury Rovers.
Clarke’s last-gasp contribution also ensured Saints continued their dominance in this age group with a league and cup double for the third consecutive season. It was a fifth success in this competition in all.
They earlier made an electric start as Joe Rider fired them ahead after just 33 seconds when steering another Leagas delivery past surprised St Ives goalkeeper Shay Griffiths.
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Rider, who has broken into the Saints’ first-team fold in recent weeks, was striking for the 30th time at Under 18 level this term.
A goal-line clearance prevented Jacob Joseph from doubling the lead but St Ives soon grew into the contest and created plenty of good opportunities.
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St Neots goalkeeper Ash Brewer made a fine save to deny Zac Hope before being powerless to prevent Thomas Wakley from levelling in the 32nd minute with an unstoppable shot.
Joseph was twice denied by fine Griffiths saves on the stroke of half-time as St Neots attempted to regain the advantage and the outcome was the same when the paths of those two players crossed again early in the second period.
Joseph did succeed in finding the net with 20 minutes to go only to see his effort ruled out for offside and it seemed inevitable that penalties would be required to settle the contest.
But Clarke had other ideas as he pounced in the closing stages to ensure St Neots followed up their Thurlow Nunn Youth League Cambridge Division title triumph with more glory.