Gloucester City U18s secured the Midland Floodlit Youth League Southern Division title tonight thanks to two 3-0 wins against Lydney Town U18s and in doing so completed a memorable league and cup double.
After 4-0 wins against Bromyard, Kidderminster & Evesham United within the last week the Young Tigers knew that just two points collectively from tonight’s double header game would be enough to see them lift the league trophy.
The first game kicked off and both sides played out a cagey opening twenty minutes with the best chance falling to City winger Dom Kent, who fired over from 25 yards.
After Josh Watts was brought down about 30 yards from goal, Gloucester defender Elliot Roberts stepped up to fire the free kick in. He scuffed it but it spilled through caretaker goalkeeper Liam Phelps’ legs and in. Phelps was in goal as two Lydney players, including regular goalkeeper Mack Sadler were late for the game due to traffic.
As usual when watching Gloucester City U18s one goal soon became two and then three when first Noah Smerdon headed home a Cam Williams corner, then a Brad Loveridge cross from the right was slotted home by forward Josh Watts.
The rest of the first match saw limited action in front of goal with Watts and Brad Cole having shots saved by Sadler in the second half.
At the full time whistle there weren’t any celebrations, instead Neil Mustoe gathered his troops and took them to the changing rooms to recompose.
The second game kicked off and within 7 minutes in form striker Iredia Ochiago was introduced and he nearly made an instant impact when his flick on ended up with Cam Williams stinging the palms of Sadler in goal.
City’s next attack saw them break the deadlock. After Brad Cole was played in one on one his shot was too hot for Sadler to handle and the ball spun off the keeper and into the back of the net.
The Champions scored their second when the hottest striker going Ochiago fired in another glorious goal to add to his collection. He picked the ball up on the right corner of the box, stepped forward and fired the ball hard across goal and it flew into the top corner. The goal was Ochiago’s 10th strike in 7 days.
Josh Watts added a third with his 15th league goal of the season just two minutes later. A poor goal kick fell to the forward and he sprinted in on goal before slotting the ball into the corner of the net. A truly clinical finish by Watts.
In the end it turns out that the league had agreed to have the second game as just one 30 minute affair so full time was called and the celebrations could begin!
We spoke to Gloucester City U18s coach Neil Mustoe after the game and he was quick to praise the effort of his players throughout the season.
“For the whole season the attitude has been fantastic. From pre-season when we assembled our squad we saw 8 or 9 players come in and they gelled. It has been really good considering it has been a stop start season. The first third [of the season] was terrific with us getting to the FA Cup 1st Round proper and doing really well, then we had a 10 week lay off due to the weather so we have had to do the final third in the last few weeks so to get the results we have against the likes of Evesham, Kidderminster and Cheltenham with the performances and goals and way they played, the players deserve all the credit.”
Tonight’s win sees City now on five clean sheets in a row and Mustoe highlighted how proud he was of his side.
“We try to do everything right. We try to defend well as a team and attack well as a team, we try to get the blend right. This is now the third or fourth season in a row we have had the best defensive record in the league so its a great place to build and if you can get the players to do the attacking…well you have seen what we can do in the recent months. The passing, the movement and the end product has been really good but its great to have such a solid base. It’s a team game and we start from the back, play it through the thirds and finish with the end product and me and Kenny are really happy.”
Gloucester City U18s end their season with a trip to Cindeford Town on Friday night, a game in which they will be without both Neil Mustoe and Ken Blackburn. Blackburn has been away all week for a family wedding whilst Mustoe is going away so is unavailable. Coach Tim Hall and Russell Williams will be in control of the reigns at the Causeway.
Severn Sport Man Of The Match (Game 1): Noah Smerdon
Severn Sport Man Of The Match (Game 2): Josh Watts
A massive congratulations to everyone involved with the Gloucester City U18s side for a wonderful season, from Neil Mustoe & Kenny Blackburn to all of the players they have been a joy to watch and cover all season long. Gloucester City have some seriously talented players at their disposal and should the players get a look in for the first team I am sure a number of them will flourish.