U14s late late show defeats Fleetwood
By Richard Culver
A last gasp 7 pointer sees the U14s win an epic quarter final against a tough Fleetwood side in a match played in terrible conditions.
By the time this Lancashire Vase quarter final finished the seagulls had settled in as McPherson Park was almost under water.
With injuries depleting the squad, the U14s lined up on a very soggy Tanners pitch against a large Fleetwood side, for what was a brave, well matched contest on a pitch that deteriorated as relentless rain made handling increasingly difficult.
The line up was:
1 Oli J; 2 Charlie H; 3 Ethan; 4 Dan; 5 Eoin; 6 Azzanne; 7 Will C (c); 8 Yousuf; 9 Jack; 10 Robin; 11 Alistair; 12 Cian; 13 Jacob; 14 Oli B; 15 Tom. Subs Oscar; Ali
Fleetwood dominated the opening exchanges, their big back line was punching holes, with their 10 prominent. The home team's tackling was generally good but a couple of misses allowed the visitors to get into the MV 22, and the home side were fortunate to see moves break down as Fleetwood kept looking for offloads, tricky in the heavy rain.
A scrum allowed MV to break out and some smart passing saw Jacob get outside the Fleetwood cover, and his pace saw him cross in the corner. 5-0.
Ignoring the pre match team talk, MV had a poor period, first up tackling was good, and support to our carriers was in place, but despite Ethan and Will winning the breakdown battle, the rest of the pack were slow to react allowing Fleetwood to keep dominating possession. Fleetwood were starting to use the conditions, kicking regularly, exploiting the big spaces behind the MV back three who were guilty of keeping too high a defensive line.
Fleetwood levelled to 5-5, some direct running and poor tackling.
MV were getting the edge up front, scrums were secure and we started winning some against the head, Dan and Azz were carrying well and the high tempo offloading that has been a feature of the season was paying off. Jack and Robin were getting ball away quicker and Cian and Jacob were threatening the Fleetwood midfield. A bit more width on the game and the score was likely to increase. Oli was close to crossing in the corner, but was forced out.
More Fleetwood pressure as the half drew to close, a scrum was scrambled back to Robin who's clearance was blocked but the rebound was gathered on our goal line and the backs broke out, Cian and Jacob combined and from under our posts we were under theirs. Jack added the extras, 12-5. Half time.
Fleetwood started the second half on the front foot, two quick tries putting the visitors into a 17-12 lead, and with their players looking better equipped to cope with the conditions a long tough second half looked likely.
A reshuffle was in order, Oscar, feeling unwell was withdrawn and Charlie returned to the fray and he helped provide some solidity to the MV defence, and along with Oli J and Yousuf helped get the MV pack back onto the front foot, as the game swung back towards the home side.
For 15 minutes MV threw everything at the green line, but spiller ball and some good Fleetwood counter rucking foiled each drive. Azzanne was close to levelling, Robin was unlucky not to break through twice and Fleetwood were hanging on, looking to slow the game down as MV kept up their high tempo.
A couple of delays meant that the game moved into the afternoon, a late scrum was won against the head and Jacob almost broke clear, the ref called final play Fleetwood won a turnover and the game looked lost but rather than kick dead the visitors were immediately put under pressure and Charlie won a crucial turnover, Ali took the ball on, and after a couple more phases Cian broke through several Fleetwood tackles and dotted down 5 yards to the left of the posts. 17-17.
A dry pitch and a straightforward 2 points, but the rain meant that this became a tricky kick, with no firm footing and the pressure of knowing that a miss would send the visitors through as the away side.
Jack steadied, a clean strike and the game ended, 19-17. Jubilant scenes from the MV players and support.
Congratulations and commiserations to a gutsy Fleetwood side who gave everything and were one tackle away from victory.
Well played to the MV / Broughton lads, for sticking at it and keeping their shape and discipline at the end as they looked for the final score.
The two man of the match awards went to Azzanne for his strong carrying and tackling, and to Robin for his intelligence, mixing up the passing and running game and looking to close down his opposite number, who was considerably bigger than him!
We wish Fleetwood well for the rest of the season.