Congratulations to Oriel High School’s U14 boys’ football team, winners of the 2019/20 U13 Sussex Schools FA County Cup, with a 5-0 win against The Weald Community School, the first time Oriel have won the competition at any age group.
Having qualified for the final back in February, courtesy of an 8-0 victory in their semi-final against Windlesham House School, the showpiece was subsequently delayed by eight months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and when the two teams, now U14’s, eventually met last Thursday, it was on Thomas Bennett’s 4G pitch rather than at Sussex County HQ at Culver Road, Lancing, another consequence of ‘the new normal’, with the finalists asked to organise a neutral venue for their final.
Though Oriel dominated possession in the first half, there had been few clear cut chances for either team until James Laws opened the scoring on the stroke of half time when he cut in from the left wing and drove a low shot into the bottom corner at the near post.
Oriel went on the capitalise on the confidence that the half time lead had given them, when James Laws added his, and Oriel’s second 10 minutes into the second half, latching on to a loose ball in the box and firing in a bouncing effort. Soon after, the moment, and goal of the game was scored by Oriel captain Liam Manby, who after picking up the ball on the halfway line, drove forward, and on the run, unleashed a dipping 25-yard drive into the roof of the net giving The Weald’s goalkeeper no chance.
The fourth goal followed after great play by Luke Staight to secure the ball then feed it wide to Georgie Barrowcliff, who crossed first time for Tommy Childs to finish smartly at the far post. The scoring was completed, when minutes from the end of the game The Weald scored an unfortunate own goal following a corner, and while the Oriel forwards took the plaudits for the goals, recognition must be given to the solid defensive base provided by the ever-impressive Oriel goalkeeper Ajae Patel, and back four marshalled by Man of the Match Tommy Seale.
This season’s Sussex Schools FA County Cup competitions begin when school’s return after the half term break, with Oriel’s U14’s keen to defend their title, beginning with a second round tie at home against the winners of Buckswood School and Dorothy Stringer School (B); they will also defend their North Sussex District League title, and will compete in the English Schools’ FA U14 PlayStation Schools’ Cup for the first time.