Pro-Direct South and West Counties Under 16's Championship
Berkshire and Buckinghamshire 1 - 0 Devon
Played at Bracknell Town FC, Bracknell, Berkshire. 20th October 2019
Devon, having made the long journey up to Bracknell, just fell short in this entertaining end to end game on the 3G surface at Bracknell Town FC , a solitary scrappy goal prodded home in the 37th minute by Ethan Symonds (Finchampstead) being the difference between the two sides.
Berks and Bucks kicked of this 80 minute encounter and put themselves under immediate pressure, Devon forcing two corners within the first three minutes, both of which were well dealt with by the Berks and Bucks defenders. Having survived this early pressure Berks and Bucks soon went on the offensive, Symonds latching on to a through ball but being foiled by Devon’s goalkeeper, Zack Linley – Moss (Bovey Tracey) bravely diving at the strikers feet to take the ball before Symonds could get his shot away.
There then came a 10 minute spell where either team could have taken the lead, Berks and Bucks, Josh Smith (Ascot Utd) fired just wide from 20 yards out. That was followed by the same player finding space to hit a 25 yard drive that was well dealt with by Linley-Moss. In the 9th minute Symonds managed to pull his left foot shot wide of the near post when well placed in the Devon penalty area. In the 10th minute Devon put together and excellent passing move down the left, Tom Burt (Ipplepen Athletic) threading his pass on to Charlie Holbrook (Lakeside Athletic), culminating in a cross to John Agpoon (Buckland Athletic) whose shot from just inside the box was blocked for yet another Devon corner.
Berks and Bucks then started to mount more pressure with their pacy front three finding gaps in the Devon defence. In the 14th minute Symonds saw his shot from 15 yards well saved by Linley-Moss. A minute later it was Symonds again, this time getting on the end of a cross from Freddie Watson (Oxford City) and attempting a chip from close in that Linley – Moss managed to push over the crossbar.
Devon weathered the storm and in the 21st minute were unlucky not to go ahead, Burt’s shot from 10 yards being deflected over the bar, the resulting corner falling again to Burt who couldn’t keep his shot down. In the 35th minute, in an effort to break the deadlock, both team managers, Neil Saunders for Devon and Aaron Steadman for Berks and Bucks, started to make use of the repeat substitutions.
Berks and Bucks then went ahead in the 37th minute. In the 36th minute Linley – Moss dealt well with a powerful left foot shot to maintain the stalemate but was unable, a minute later, to prevent Symons giving his side the lead. The Devon defenders, all of whom had performed well up to now, were caught at sixes and sevens by a low cross into the box and, whilst they were deciding who should clear, Symons stole in and prodded the ball into the empty net.
Half time came with the score with Berks and Bucks holding on to their one nil lead.
Devon made two more changes at half time but is was Berks and Bucks who showed first, Linley – Moss saving well from Symonds in the 42nd minute. In the 44th minute Symonds turned provider, laying the ball of for Sam Evans (Berks County) who fired wide with the goal at his mercy. The game was becoming more open as substitutes settled in and in the 50th minute Devon almost drew level, Burt getting on the end of a free kick from the left, his deft back heel flying just past the post.
Back came Berks and Bucks, Watson heading a corner just wide. In the 57th minute a bad mistake in the Devon defence gifted Watson another opportunity which he lifted over the bar. The Berks and Bucks team were starting to take control in the midfield as the Devon team started to tire but Devon’s defence, thanks largely to the efforts of Linley – Moss, managed to keep the score down to one.
As the game drew to a close Devon began to pile men forward in search of the equaliser and their pressure gave rise to a number of free kicks, one of which almost gave them the reward their efforts deserved, Cameron Norman (Elburton Villa) curling his shot to the far post and bring a brilliant save out of the Berks and Bucks custodian, Timmy Mungall (Bucks BTC), whose handling had been almost faultless throughout.
In the last minute of normal time came Devon’s last chance. A poor clearance out of defence fell to James De Selincourt (Ipplepen Athletic) whose shot from the edge of the box just cleared the bar, leaving Berks and Bucks the winners courtesy of that solitary goal from Symonds.
Star Man: Zack Linley–Moss (Devon)