Cheltenham Saracens lifted the Severn Sport Shield on Saturday afternoon, after edging hosts Tuffley Rovers 6-5 in a pulsating final at Glevum Park.
Both sides booked their places in the final with high scoring wins in their respective semi finals during the week and the first bit of drama in the game saw Sarries’ hero from Wednesday night, Jordan Bryan, fouled 25 yards from goal.
Bryan stayed down and eventually had to go off with a shoulder injury, but had a great view of Kai Mahon stepping up to curl the free kick beyond Tuffley keeper Alex Avenell.
Mahon had the bit beneath his teeth in the early exchanges and doubled his side’s lead on 8 minutes. After being slipped in one on one, Mahon showed great composure to roll the ball under the advancing Avenell, before slotting home despite Sam Hill’s despairing challenge.
Tuffley were shell-shocked, as were everyone in attendance. But Jake Rhodes’ header on 14 minutes halved the deficit and lifted the hosts massively.
On Wednesday Saracens looked exposed with set pieces and it from a free kick that Rhodes got free to head past Charlee Cook.
From there Tuffley grew into the contest and it felt more even. Ryan Caddock and Sam Hill were getting a lot of joy down the right hand side and after Caddock’s cross wasn’t dealt with at the back post, Rhodes brought Rovers level and it really was game on!
Jamie Hammond started upfront after a decent showing off the bench against Longlevens in the semi final and just after the half mark it was his cross come shot which looped over Avenell that put Saracens back in front.
The goal-crazy game saw the two sides go in with Saracens leading 4-3 after goals from Rhodes, who completed his hattrick with a lovely screwed volley from the edge of the box and Hammond adding a second to his goal tally for the game, taking him to 3 goals for the tournament.
The spectators in attendance had barely caught their breath as the second half kicked off before the 8th goal of the game was scored. Mahon completed his hattrick with a free kick from the left hand side that bounced past Avenell into the back post.
Adam Loveridge scored a sixth for Saracens from the penalty spot to put them 6-3 up and cruising towards the Severn Sport Shield, but with five minutes left Tuffley gave themselves hope of a miracle.
Out of nowhere Brett James beat the offside trap before slotting home to give Tuffley a feint chance, but when Ash Bird’s driven shot from the right hand side of the box nestled into the bottom corner suddenly Rovers had a sniff of taking us to penalties.
In the end Saracens held on to clinch a deserved victory and became the second side to win the Severn Sport Shield!
Earlier on in the afternoon, Longlevens were pegged back from being 2-0 up before claiming 3rd place with a 4-2 win over a very game Gloucester City U18s side.
Brad Martin’s double had put the Hellenic League side in a commanding position after 20 minutes in the game. His first goal coming from a spectacular volley from the left corner of the box after a quick long throw in. His second goal also came from a long Josh Westcarr throw that bounced around the box before the forward’s header looped over a helpless Sam Tandy in goal.
Gloucester, who were probably the unluckiest side throughout the week, pulled one back just before the break through the impressive Ed Berry. After overlapping Sam Collins, Berry caught Levens keeper Ash Wintle off his line and clipped the ball over the keeper and into the net.
The Young Tigers levelled the game just after half time when Ehren Wintle’s cross caught out his namesake and looped into the back post.
The game changed with the introduction of Isaac Johns and Shaun O’Connor for Longlevens. It gave them energy and suddenly City were put under more pressure on the ball.
As the Tuffley Rovers and Cheltenham Saracens players arrived for the final as the game went on, the Tuffley Rovers players were playfully booing former winger, Will Emery, who is set to make the switch to Longlevens for the season.
But it was Emery who had the last laugh, when he found himself played in by Ellis Waugh and he calmly slid the ball underneath Tandy to restore Longlevens’ lead.
Martin grabbed an assist to go with his goals with 5 minutes left when his scuffed ball across goal was diverted home by Ellis Waugh. Waugh, who played for both Longlevens and Tuffley Rovers in the tournament scored 3 goals at a goal a game for an impressive tournament individually.
Overall across the week we saw 31 goals in 4 games, which is absolutely outstanding. With so many players making an impact and performing to a high level it has to be considered another Severn Sport Shield that has been a success.
We would like to thank everyone who attended the games or listened to the commentaries across the week. You will be able to listen to the games again later on once they have been uploaded, and on Sunday evening Ryan picks his team of the tournament. With so many outstanding performances, that is a tough job to say the least!