Spirited Cogan U13s clinch league crown

First published in Sport

BARRY ATHLETIC 0

COGAN CORONATION 0

PRESERVING an unbeaten Vale Junior Soccer League record against their arch rivals, Cogan Coronation picked up the point needed to clinch the U13s League title.

Barry Athletic knew that only a win would be enough to keep their own title hopes alive and then they would need Cogan to slip up in their final fixture at Cowbridge.

With so much tension around the ground amongst managers, supporters and players, both sides closed each other down quickly, with time and space hard to come by.

Cogan were dealt an early blow as skipper Cam Gauci limped off after 10 minutes, while Athletic, with their height and the wind at their backs, looking most dangerous from set pieces and corners.

Both sides were well matched, with Athletic trying to play a measured passing game but lacking any cutting edge in the Cogan half as defenders Kellan Allison, Matt Frost, Ben Fleig and Louis Crook stood firm.

In contrast, Cogan soaked up the pressure and hit Athletic with pace on the break. Cogan's best chance of the first half came from one such move as, seizing on a delightful ball, striker Sam Green was denied by a great fingertip save. The Cogan midfield trio of Ellis Dibble, Eithan Singh and Luke Warlow worked hard to stifle the Athletic and, with little time on the ball, the home midfielders looked to thread balls through the channels but never came to terms with the conditions as they constantly over hit passes, many of which were mopped up by Cogan 'keeper Luke Birnage.

After facing the first half elements, Cogan felt the hard work was done although taking nothing for granted.

The game continued with some fascinating individual battles all over the pitch, while signs of frustration began to creep into Cogan players and supporters as they felt they were on the wrong side of several decisions. But nothing could prepare them for what happened next as Green, after a 50-50 challenge with the 'keeper, was shown a red card that stunned the Cogan sidelines. And Green limped off with blood oozing from stud marks on his shin.

Although having the wind at their backs, Cogan faced a long 20 minutes with only 10 players, but one thing the side has always had in abundance is spirit, and this was epitomised by some sterling challenges by Ellis Dibble and the tireless running of Cian McCarthy and Cole Roberts, now occupying the flanks.

Chances continued to be few and far between, with Dibble letting fly with a speculative 30-yarder that just flew over.

At the other end, Athletic pushed bodies on in an effort to salvage something from their season and, with minutes left, their opportunity arrived as the Cogan defence was opened up for the first time. With Rhys Woolmer through on goal with only Birnage to beat, the man mountain 'keeper stood tall and pulled off a spectacular save.

After what seemed an eternity of added time, the champagne corks popped and Cogan's celebrations started.

Congratulations to manager Lee 'Packer' Williams, all his U13s squad who have been magnificent all season and the parents.

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