Buntingford Cougars Under16’s Blues were up for the cup on Sunday in the league cup semi final at The Bury as they sent Letchworth packing with a one-nil victory. Manager Sean Curran after the match told the BBC’s Robbie Savage “I am very proud of all of the boy’s performances today, they were simply brilliant. They trusted themselves and their teammates, they had 100% belief and a can do attitude and that’s what got them into the final. I feel very proud and honoured to manage this side.”
Also at The Bury Cougars Under7’s Stripes and Royals entertained the crowds on a bright but cold morning as they hosted Stevenage Boro Juniors. Cougars dominated their match with Luke Ross having a good early effort on goal going close but it was Jamie Coote who notched the first goal before Ross finally got the goal he deserved. Soon after Coote made it three with a long range effort before Ross got in on the double act with his second too. In the second half Coote scored a third from a mis-kick before Ollie Curran went close with a great free kick effort from outside the penalty area that the Boro keeper did well to save. Luke Ross then got another for his hat-trick before watching team mate Jamie Coote scoring his fourth. Man of the match for the Royals was Luke Ross and for the Stripes was Ronan Maguire (pictured with Manager Tom Curtis). After the match Cougars Manager Tom Curtis told BT Sports “I was really proud of the players today – they all played really well”.
Buntingford Cougars Under8’s are playing well at the moment and continued to progress on Saturday at The Bury. Local but friendly rivals Hormead Hares were the hosts and both teams had a great morning of football. Man of match for Cougars in the first game was Blue Salmon and in the second match Alfie Bester took the honours. Buntingford’s Under8’s Manager Wesley Cook said after the match “We always enjoy playing Hormead – they are a great bunch of parents and kids and we always have a close match.”
Cougars Under9’s Blues conceded early at home to Bedwell Rangers but the team came back well and enjoyed seeing goals from the prolific Finlay Walker and Joseph McKinley. Cougars Under9’s Whites also come from behind thanks to a fantastic finish from Ben Hume who chipped the goal-keeper. Buntingford’s Under9’s are having a great season with the Blues being unbeaten in fifteen games and the Whites being undefeated now in the last three games.
Cougars Under 10’s Blues ran out against Morden Magpies in wintry weather at The Bury but still played some great attacking football. With the team now passing the ball around they are finding space, putting together some good moves and enjoying the benefits of great off the ball movement all over the pitch. The first 10 minutes was very even when Cougars conceded an own goal from a corner. In the second half Cougars were in control and were threatening yet continuously but could not convert the chances with the visitors keeper making a couple of good saves from both short and long range options from Cougars. Buntingford dominated possession towards the end of the second half and had several shots on goal with Dexter Cumberland and Stan Gurney going close but just couldn’t get the ball over the line. After the game on the spot reporter Josh Maley said “Although The some of the players were left frustrated at the final whistle, the spectators were left feeling that if the team keep playing at this standard their time will come and the side will have a good run of games and hopefully end the season on a high note.”
Cougars Under10’s Whites had a great Mother’s day turn out on Sunday but a cold chill as well and the distraction made for a scrappy start against Morden. Both teams defensive players were on top with Jack Hedge and Sam Miles strong in defence for Cougars stopping the attacks before the away team got close to goal. The first real chance of the match fell to Cougars following a good pass by Thomas Norris that put Jamiu Ajassa through but he could not capitalise. A few moments later Cougars won a corner which was taken by Ajassa that went straight in deflected off a Morden player to put Cougars one up. After the goal it was one way traffic with shots raining down on the Magpies goal. Chances fell to Norris, Ben Perryman, Dexter Cumberland, Jake Craddock and Noah Gibson but the Magpies keeper was having a great game and held on until half time. After the break the large home crowd saw Magpies got a goal back which worried Whites manager Richard Bentley but his direction encouraged a good move with Gibson making a great run and a great pass to Ben Perrymen who rifled home for the Cougars second goal. Tom Betley in goal had not been too troubled for most of the match but had to make a defining clearance to an on rushing attacker as the initiative shifted to Magpies. The hosts midfield though became more engaged in supporting the defence and with some determined battling by Ajassa and Hedge Cougars kept the visitors at bay. On the break some fantastic first time shots from Jake Craddock nearly earned Cougars another goal but it was not to be. A succession of corners for Magpies passed without really troubling the goal but it did mean a few nervous minutes before the whistle went for the end of the game and Cougars players and their Mums could celebrate the win. The post match interviews were conducted in good spirits by both management and players and a well deserved man of the match was awarded by Manager Richard Bentley to Jake Craddock for his great shots on goal from all angles.
In the Under11’s section it was only Ian Jenkins Stripes called into action and they put on a season defining performance. Their opponents, St Neots traveled down the A1 leading the table and feeling confident after a convincing victory in the reverse fixture a few weeks ago as the Saints won eleven – one. However Cougars have progressed over the last few weeks and after their first victory last week felt that they could get something from todays match. It seemed like every player had a belief in themselves and with the likes of George Hegarty, Josh Lucas and Ciaran Jenkins in good form Buntingford were equal opponents to the visitors. Tom Ryman was lively as was Yann Boulter. After a goalless first half the Saints scored after a good move before Cougars Stripes top scorer Boulter deservedly equalized. After the game Cougars Under11’s Age Group Manager Richard Daly said “Our Under11s Stripes were a new team at the start of the season and have taken some time to find their feet but today I think this was the performance of the season, every player gave everything and done so well.”
Cougars Under14’s have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence but still went down to Sawbridgeworth at home on Sunday despite Nate Ridgewell converting a late penalty. Lewis Horan was awarded man of the match.
Buntingford’s Under15’s travelled to Welwyn Pegasus in a crucial second v third clash, with both sides having an identical league record. Cougars lost the home fixture three – two earlier in the season and it was the hosts who started brightly having the upper hand in the opening fifteen minutes. Cougars were conceding possession and giving away careless fouls in dangerous areas but the organisation and aerial abilities of Matt Adams and James Parkins kept the home side at bay who were restricted to distance shots that Jay Caine tipped away comfortably. As the first half progressed Archie Rhodes and Josh Bradfield started to create and then on twenty minutes the breakthrough came as Luke Garratt won a duel in the centre of the park split the back four with a super pass and Rhodes ran through to slot home. Five minutes later Groves beat his man on the right and played the ball into the box to Rhodes who turned and set up Garratt who crashed home from 12yards to give Cougars a two nil half time lead. The second half was played at a frenetic pace. Buntingford did well to keep their shape and discipline but eventually Pegasus pulled a goal back with twenty minutes to go. Both sides had chances to score again but the final whistle blew for a two one away victory for Cougars. Buntingford’s Gaffer told TalkSport radio after the match “Today was an excellent match, both sides played it in a fantastically competitive spirit. We combined some brilliant football along with some dogged determination and desire and the boys reward was three well deserved points. Special mention today to our guardian Jay Caine, assured throughout, some good saves and one out of the top drawer to seal the win.”
No reports for Buntingford Cougars Under7’s Blues & Whites, Under 12’s, Under13’s Blues.