U13 LIGERS ROAR TO FINAL
By Neil SINCLAIR
Ligers guarantee grandstand end to season with comfortable win in semi-final
Ligers guaranteed a grandstand end to the season, an emphatic semi-final win ensuring their place in the final on May 4th. Ligers played some of their best football this year to build an unassailable five goal lead within 45 minutes; although Marlow made a spirited late rally it was never going to be enough to upset the home team. It was the sweetest revenge for the league reverse in the autumn.
George Lee got Ligers off to the perfect start with a goal after 75 seconds, picking up the ball just inside the area and burying a rare right-foot finish beyond the diving William Worster. The game ebbed and flowed with corners at both ends and even though Dylan Tomlinson had several attempts, neither goalkeeper was really troubled. As has happened a few times this season, Ligers were losing the midfield battles, particularly in pursuit of the second balls, but the back four was rock solid and Gabe and George continually caused problems when the ball did come their way. And as United made their first substitutions, it was Frazer Pickrell who doubled the lead with an accomplished finish.
The next 10 minutes saw Marlow pressing hard to get back into the game. Matthew Barrett pulled out a brilliant diving save to deny George Carter, while Connor Chaplin and Henry Johnston were both denied by defensive blocks. John gave way to Hayden, making his first appearance since mid-November, and Kevin slotted into a more central role. But it was the combination of Gabe’s pace and George’s strength that created the third goal, the threat again starting on Ligers’ left as Gabe angled in a pinpoint pass that George Lee put away at the second attempt to claim his second goal. Within a minute, a Daniel Kubinskyy corner was met by Kevin Kota who headed firmly beyond William Worster to seemingly put the game beyond doubt with half-time imminent.
Ligers brought on Zac, Tommy, Ilyas and George P-M for the second half. Daniel, now playing in central defence, took advantage of some dispirited Marlow players to trouble the visitors’ keeper but it was good work by Frazer that created space for Hayden Pillay to put the result beyond doubt. The only question seemed to be whether Matthew could cap a fine team performance with a clean sheet, particularly as Toby was having an outstanding game in the centre of Ligers’ defence.
However, Marlow aren’t accustomed to heavy defeat and showed massive character to mount a come back, although it was too little and far too late. George P-M should possibly have done better when the ball popped to him some two yards out from Marlow’s goal but a goal for Edward Fisher and two for Toby Rutland-Dix, including one that Matt appeared to have scrambled away having let the first attempt squirt through his hands, put some respectability back into the score line.
There was no question that Ligers were the better team on the day and their performances throughout the competition have rightly earned them their place in the Final. Matt looked unbeatable for 50 minutes, and Toby deservedly won the man-of-the-match award. There were important contributions all over the pitch and all sixteen players deserve plaudits. There is now two months to wait before the final against Twyford Comets Blacks who disposed of Woodley Saints Wolves 4-1.
Next week Ligers return to League action with a local derby with visitors Teddington Athletic Wolves.