Association of Northern Counties Youth Cup Final
The Association of Northern Counties Youth Cup Final saw Durham County FA face neighbours Northumberland FA at Jarrow FC Perth Green to round off what has been a superb unbeaten season for Jim Thompsons County squad.
Over this seasons Association of Northern Counties league due to COVID only 3 County FA’s entered the competition in Cheshire FA, Durham CFA and Northumberland FA. Each team played each other home and away with the top 2 sides at the end of the games making up the final, Durham FA finishing winners of the group and Northumberland FA coming in 2nd place made up for what should be a very entertaining final.
Durham FA first met with Northumberland away from home on February 4th with the game resulting in a 1-1 draw, Jack Maskell finding the net for Durham. Then it was Northumberland’s turn to travel and play away from home, the reverse fixture was played at Nissan Sports Complex with Durham coming away 5-2 winners after a Ryan Wright hattrick and a brace for Sam Peat.
Durham FA came into this game against Northumberland in excellent form having not tasted defeat in the 4 previous games.
Jim Thompson made a few changes to the side that last faced Cheshire FA in the final game of the Northern Counties with George Wilkinson, Joseph Howey and Jack Maskell coming back into the starting eleven.
The game kicked off at 7:15pm and in the 5th minute George Wilkinson played a cross field pass finding Sam Johnson on the edge of the Northumberland box, Sam unleashed a great strike which he could then watch fly into the top left corner beating Lewis Baker in the Northumberland goal. A great start for Durham taking the lead so early on in a big cup final!
Two minutes later and it was an instant response from Northumberland, a ball crossed in from the right-hand side took a strong deflection before being lashed home at the near post to bring the scores level.
Durham responded well after a period of Northumberland opportunities and it was Sam Johnson again causing trouble, he beat a visiting defender and saw his shot crash against the crossbar, a huge chance to give Durham the lead for the second time.
34 minutes gone and Durham created a clever attack down the left hand side, Matthew Ward playing a superb pass in behind for Ryan Wright who had the ball just nicked away from him as he was about to pull the trigger.
36 minutes Chance after chance for Durham a cross played into the box flicked on by Ryan Wright beat the onrushing goalkeeper before finding the path of Sam Johnson who fired wide.
37 minutes and it was Durham on the attack again, Elliott Judson receiving the ball inside the Durham penalty area with his back to goal, Northumberland defender stepped in to steal the ball away from Elliott bringing him down. Referee Chris Joyce pointed to the spot and awarded Durham a penalty.
Ryan Wright stepped up and dispatched the penalty into the left corner to give Durham the lead at half time.
HALF TIME: Durham County FA 2 – 1 Northumberland County FA 3’(Johnson), 38’ (Wright) (PEN)
45’ Referee Chris Joyce gets the game underway for the second half of the Association of Northern Counties Youth Cup Final.
46’ A lively start to the second half with Durham coming out all guns blazing a ball finding Matthew Ward on the left-hand side fired over the bar.
48’ Durham made it 3-1! A clearance from Joseph Howey sailed over the visitors defence and Ryan Wright was on to it in a flash before lobbing the advancing keeper and getting his ninth goal of the campaign.
52’ Durham didn’t let the intensity die down and still bombarded Northumberland with a flurry of attacks, Sam Johnson fouled down the right wing. Harry Petterson taking a quick free kick finding a darting Sam Johnson who looked to play a ball into the box for Jack Maskell who forced it behind for a corner which was easily handled by Lewis Baker in the Northumberland goal.
53’ After coming for a catch play was stopped as Lewis Baker received treatment, his evening came to an early end as he was substituted for Jamie Cotterill.
30 minutes left of this very entertaining final and Jim Thompson makes a double change, Matthew Ward and goal scorer Sam Johnson departing the field for Sam Peat and Liam Dunn.
64’ A deflected shot coming from the edge of the box was pushed onto the bar by Sam Wilson in the Durham goal with Northumberland growing in confidence.
80’ Northumberland find a way back into the game, 3-2.
81’ Brennan Fitzpatrick was replaced by Luke Richards as Durham had just under 10 minutes to stay in front.
85’ A goal kick from Sam Wilson flicked on by Jack Maskell who won absolutely everything in the air found it’s way to Ryan Wright who cut inside and fired agonisingly wide of the post.
88’ Superb Sam Wilson! A failed clearance from Durham dropped at the feet of a Northumberland attacker who had a great chance to level the game but Wilson denied him brilliantly getting down low to his right-hand side.
90’ +3 additional minutes added on.
93rd minute Northumberland with once last chance had a cross blocked by a rigid Durham defence and cleared up the pitch, Chris Joyce blew the whistle and ended the Association of Northern Counties Youth Cup Final and Durham County FA are the winners!
The whole Durham team played their part in an excellent performance.
FULL TIME: Durham County FA 3 – 2 Northumberland County FA 3’(Johnson) 38’(PEN), 48’ (Wright)
For what has been a strange few years for us all and an even stranger few years for the Association of Northern Counties competition it is brilliant to see Counties coming together and playing some outstanding games of football. 3 counties entering the tournament this year and each game of football providing entertainment for all the spectators.
A huge thank you and congratulations goes to all the players but a massive well done goes to Jim Thompson, Ken Riley and Martin Richards who make up the Durham County FA management team for all the hard work over the season a reward they have deserved.
Photo: Durham CFA Management team (Jim Thompson, Martin Richards and Ken Riley) with the Association of Northern Counties Youth Cup
Photo: Durham County FA U18's squad and Winners of the Association of Northern Counties.
Photo: County Squad captain Elliott Judson alongside County Squad manager Jim Thompson.