Buntingford Cougars Under7s were a real credit to their club on Saturday as they played out two fantastic fun games against Stevenage based Austen Arrowheads. It was Cougars Royals who played first and Tom Curtis’ side came from behind twice at The Bury with goals from Alfie Vottariello and a double strike from Jonny Rofe to end up with with honours even. Buntingford’s Under7s Stripes then played with Tyler Jordan (pictured) playing in goal and went one up courtesy of a great strike into the roof of the net from Henry Turner who went onto score a total of four goals in a seven goal thriller and a match that was a great advert for grassroots youth football. The man of the match accolades went to Jonny Rofe and Alfie Votariello.
In the Under9’s section Cougars Blues thanked Fred Arnold for opening the scoring with a penalty and then enjoyed a Joseph McKinley Header from a Billy Pullen corner for two great goals in a fantastic all-round team performance at home to Shefford Saints. Cougars Under9’s Whites then enjoyed an even encounter with Shefford following storming performances from Harriet Ware, Paddy Mitchell and goalkeeper Oscar Kennedy.
For Cougars Under10’s Sunday saw a lively start against Stevenage Boro Juniors. George Brownless stepped in for Tom Betley in goal with Jack Hedge, Jammiu Ajasa and Rocco Douglas keeping Buntingford’s defence solid and Will Greathead, Thomas Norris and Ben Perryman covering the rest of the pitch. Just before half time Brownless made a terrific save and Norris saw a shot just go wide. The first half ended goal-less and the second half opened with a couple of strikes by Perryman and Douglas that were saved by the Boro guardian. Eventually Perryman outwitted the visitors stopper and scored. Soon after Dexter Cumberland came on and scored Cougars second goal of the match in what was a satisfying game for Guv’nor Danny Miles. Man of the match went to Ben Perryman for a great display. Cougars Under10’s Whites Manager Richard Bentley saw his side earn a good draw in an entertaining contest. Man of the match Ethan Vater played well and topped off his performance with a fantastic goal from an overhead kick.
Cougars Under11 Stripes put in the performance of the day as Ian Jenkins side travelled to Bishops Stortford and enjoyed a long overdue win in an exciting contest. Freddy Lee (pictured) scored his first Cougars goal to compliment an own goal and strikes from Ciaran Jenkins and Shane Coyne. In the same age group Dean Howard’s Whites came back from Bassingbourn pointless after playing another great game but feeling harshly dealt with after a tight offside decision denied Evan Howard his first Cougars goal in his four year football career. With the goal ruled out Cougars were beaten by three goals to two with Tom Carter and Casey Heenan on the scoresheet and Josh Aneylour man of the match. Darryl Dean’s Cougars Under11’s Blues fancied their chances at home to Sawbridgeworth but were beaten by a single goal in a physical encounter at London Road in which Joe Sharpe went away as man of the match.
Buntingford’s Under14’ put in their best display of the season but narrowly lost two-nil away at Bedwell Irons with Jacob Dear producing some outstanding saves and Man of the match going to Alistair Tait.
Cougars Under15’s continued their fine form in the Mid Herts Premier Division as they traveled to Knebworth for their first fixture in a month and with a full squad although a few were nursing some illness. The home side dominated possession in the early stages on a bumpy pitch and it took Buntingford a while to get going. Although Knebworth were dominating possession Buntingford’s defensive shape kept the game scoreless. Midway through the first half Cougars started to get a grip on the game and Liam Smith, Matt Share and Archie Rhodes all got shots off although with not enough power to really trouble the home keeper. With the pitch making it tricky to play the passing football that Chris Adams’ side is known for they had to adjust their style and that enabled Owen Groves and Rhodes to start pegging back the Knebworth defensive line. With half time rapidly approaching the visitors scored the only goal of the match when a corner was swung into the near post by Liam Smith where Min Lankester and Rhodes rose highest and it was the latter who claimed the goal. Two minutes later the game saw the move of the match when Rhodes won the ball and fed Josh Bradfield, who’s return ball beautifully split the centre halves and put Rhodes in on goal clean through and as he was about to pull the trigger the referee blew for half time. The second half was even without any side really threatening the goal and Knebworth’s long balls were being comfortably mopped up by James Parkins and when he was called to play a role Cougars keeper Jay Caine was a safe pair of hands. In the final minutes Knebworth predictably threw everything at Chris Adam’s side but with the likes of Matt Inman putting in some strong tackles Cougars enjoyed the spoils at the final whistle. After the game Cougars Under15’s Manager told BBC’s Gary Lineker “We punch above our weight in this league because we are prepared to work, fight, and strive to improve and when you do that results like today are possible. Special mentions to Min Lankester and James Parkins who both as centre halves were solid, reliable and provided a clean sheet that won us the game. That said I was delighted with all fifteen of the boys for their effort and commitment today.”
Elsewhere for Cougars the Under12’s won by the odd goal in five at Stortford whereas the Under13’s Blues in division one shared the spoils in an eight goal thriller and the Under13’s Whites easily beat Stevenage Boro six goals to one. In the under16’s section Cougars Blues lost out in the top of the division one clash away at Hitchin by four goals to two whilst the Under 16’s Whites played what was described by boss Peter Briffett as one of their best performances of the season as they earned a one all draw with Stotfold at The Bury.