MFYL Premier Division South champions Town Youth brought the curtain down on their title winning campaign with a thumping success over Gloucester City at the Arden Garages Stadium on Thursday evening.
Although it was the final match of the entire League season it still had plenty riding on it as a Gloucester win would have seen them claim the runners-up spot, but that never looked likely as Town were far too strong particularly in the second half, and at the final whistle Darren Timms’ side had extended their advantage over second placed Worcester City to a whopping thirteen points.
Both sides had an early chance with Toby Scott bringing the first of several smart saves out of Gloucester keeper Alex Sukoed while at the other end Theo Maye blasted a free kick from a promising position harmlessly over.
But with the impressive Caine Elliott in a class of his own in midfield Town were bossing possession, and soon Tyricke Richards-Burke was causing the Gloucester defence plenty of problems with his pace down the right.
In the 17th minute he cut in to hit a fierce effort which was beaten away by Sukoed and a couple of minutes later he fired Town ahead with a stunning strike from all of 30 yards out which soared over Sukoed and dipped under the bar into the top corner of the net.
Town continued to press but Gloucester grabbed a fortunate equaliser just after the half hour mark when an attempted Town clearance rebounded kindly to Finley Blythe who found himself with only Ryan Woodward to beat and duly slotted the ball past the advancing keeper.
Town though regained the lead five minutes later when Elliott launched a free kick from out by the left touchline over to the far post where Sacha Everard – who was one of several in the Town squad playing their last game at youth team level – rose majestically to power a header past the helpless Sukoed.
But Gloucester went close to levelling it all up again two minutes before the break when Maye hit a low drive which was turned behind by Woodward plunging to his left and from the subsequent corner James Stubbs’ header cannoned against the bar before being cleared.
Town youth stalwarts Dan Atkins, Tommy Harrington and Harry Hartin all came on after the break, and ten minutes into the second half a flowing Town move involving Atkins and Elliott ended with Bradley West scooting down the left to whip in a cross which was expertly turned in by leading scorer Harrington for his 18th goal of the season.
It was all Town from then on and they went agonisingly close to extending their lead in the 67th minute when Harrington’s lob over Sukoed was somehow hooked away from under the bar by Stubbs followed by Richards-Burke seeing his header blocked on the line by Spencer Martin.
But Gloucester’s reprieve was only temporary as with a quarter of an hour to go Elliott delivered a pinpoint cross from the right which was met by an emphatic finish from West for Town’s 90th and final goal of an epic season.
“The lads have bee a pleasure to work with throughout the season and they thoroughly deserve their success” beamed a euphoric Darren Timms afterwards.
Their team spirit has been tremendous as you can see from the way they all celebrate the goals whoever scores them, and I’m so proud of them all.
They’ve been a special group having won the League Cup last year and followed by winning the League by a wide margin this time round.
I’ve always emphasised to the lads that it’s players who win titles not managers and they have produced the goods where it matters on the field.”
The crunch games this season were undoubtedly the home win over previous leaders Worcester City at the end of January when we hit three second half goals after trailing at half time, and the dramatic 3-2 win against Rugby Borough Juniors also at home three weeks later when Dan Atkins fired in that late decider after which we knew we had a great chance of taking the title.
Confirming that he was now stepping down after several seasons’ involvement he added “It’s a nice way to finish and I’ve enjoyed every minute.”