U13 Ligers meet Twyford Comets Blacks from Division C in the final of the EBFA Trophy this weekend, on the all-weather surface at Bracknell Town FC. It is this squad's first appearance in a final and the excitement, certainly amongst the grown-ups, is palpable.
Twyford Comets Blacks will go into the final as red-hot favourites. They have breezed through the previous rounds, were undefeated in League 4 prior to Christmas, including a 6-0 victory over Cheetahs, and then continued their excellent form in Div 3. A surprising defeat against Ascot United Raiders cost them the League title by a single point, losing out to Caversham Foxes, who Comets thumped 5-1 on the opening weekend of January. Comets have scored 101 league goals this season, conceding just 27. They maintained that average with an 8-2 victory against Pumas in March. Comets choose from a squad of 20 players, indicating plenty of player rotation by manager Mike Henry and his two coaches, Andrew Farmery and Adrian Bradshaw.
Ligers have played some of their best football on the way to the Final. Wins against Pinewood Panthers, Camberley Town Youth Rockets, Woodley Saints Panthers and Marlow United have required Ligers to perform at the very top of their game, and the cup wins have not always been backed-up by their league performances, albeit that this has been a very satisfactory season for the team. George Lee has scored 12 goals out of the team's 21 in the cup run.
Matt Barrett, Ligers' highly regarded goalie, is out of the final with a broken hand, so George Perez-Medina is likely to take his place between the posts. Otherwise, Coach Simon Wallis has all his outfield players available so will be lining up with a squad of 16. Ligers will have to work very hard and as a unit to contain Twyford, but cup finals are the time to put in a "one-off performance", and Ligers will be expecting just that on Saturday.
nil sine magno labore