YOUTH FOOTBALL: St Neots Town retain the Hunts Under 18 Cup after seeing off title rivals Godmanchester Rovers

St Neots Town celebrate their Hunts Under 18 Cup triumph. Picture: HUNTS FA

St Neots Town celebrate their Hunts Under 18 Cup triumph. Picture: HUNTS FA - Credit: Archant

Holders St Neots Town retained the Hunts Under 18 Cup thanks to a comfortable Friday-night final success.

The Saints youngsters saw off Thurlow Nunn Youth League Cambridge Division title rivals Gomanchester Rovers in a county showpiece staged at Yaxley.

It was a feisty encounter at times (highlighted by a flare-up in the second half) with the two sides evenly matched, but the clinching factor was St Neots’ finishing whilst their opponents always shared possession but created fewer goalscoring opportunities.

Saints now need four points from their final two league matches to clinch the title and complete a double-double after also winning both honours last season.

The match got off to an electric start with two goals in the opening six minutes.

Saints took the lead after just two minutes with a lightning strike as Sam Routs found George Holman in space and he unselfishly set up leading scorer Kieran Waites for his 17th goal of the campaign.

Godmanchester’s response was swift and effective as four minutes later Daniel Turnbull intercepted an attempted defensive clearance to find Michael Speed in space and he sent Rayan Batsford clear on the left to net from an acute angle.

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A smart save by Rovers keeper Shay Griffiths denied Waites a second goal, but they did regain the lead in the 26th minute when the unmarked Routs struck following a fine move involving Andre Williams and Aaron Hiscock.

Speed and Lewis Powell both missed the target with decent chances to haul Rovers level again before Griffiths denied Holman a third St Neots goal.

Saints continued to threaten in the second half as Williams saw a free-kick drift just wide before being denied by a terrific Griffiths save.

While Williams couldn’t find the net himself, he did succeed in creating Saints’ decisive third goal as his cross was tapped in from close range by Joe Brooke.

The victory completed a Hunts hat-trick for St Neots with their Under 14 and Under 16 sides also lifting county crowns this season. The Saints Under 12 squad were pipped on penalties in their final.

St Neots Town: George Bugg, Tom Leagas, Joe Brooks, Alfie Donkin, Archie Southeran, Leon Fulianty, Andre Williams, George Holman, Kieran Waites, Sam Routs, Aaron Hiscock. Subs: Callan Irvine, Brandon Hedges, Nehamiah Gooderidge, Ben Southwood, Shaani Ahmed.

Godmanchester Rovers: Shay Griffiths, Fraser Kerr, Freddie Francis, Sam Stevenson, Ben Casey, Lewis Powell, Will Greatorex, Luke Toates, Dan Turnbull, Michael Speed, Ryan Batsford. Subs: Ben Gallagher, Jaden Rogers, Olly Dale, Luke Dean, Joe Darer.