Cougars Under 8’s Whites travelled to Pendleton Sports Centre to face Stotfold Juniors Reds on Saturday and delivered a gold medal performance against previously unbeaten opposition. From the kick off it was clear that this would be the Whites toughest test of the season so far and they certainly rose to the challenge, with OPTA rating their performance No.1 for tackles won and yards covered – keeping chances for the impressive Stotfold side to a minimum. Finlay Tanner was the first Cougars player to catch the eye with early saves to keep his side in a game which quickly became a memorable outfield contest between two hard working teams.

Player of the match Ronnie Hennessy was imperious with his tackling all over the park and using his pace to great effect turning defence to attack. Noah Benton, growing in confidence week after week, typified the team’s determined attitude, riding numerous tackles before slotting home from close range. Tash McNamara and Alfie Perryman worked tirelessly to stop the Reds getting a foothold in the game and Johnny Nicholas, taking over between the sticks, showed bravery and courage rushing off the line to deny his opponents when they did break through.

In the second half McNamara kept up the good work in goal, pushing a fierce shot round her right hand post. Jack Nicholas showed the same determination as his team mates, closing the opposition down, pressing high and tackling effectively, while still finding time for the occasional drag back and turn. Eventually he took one for the team, intercepting a dangerous move by Reds… With his face! After a quick recovery he came back on to take his turn in goal. True Grit.

Meanwhile Perryman added to the Cougars account with a goal that came as result of strong tackles and quick passing putting him clean through. Then Tanner scored for Cougars to calm the nerves of the travelling fans. The J2O moment came courtesy of a slow motion dribble out of defence by Johnny Nicholas, weaving this way and that as he swerved past numerous challenges to bring the ball clear. Older fans were reminded of a similar run by Ricki Villa in the famous ’81 Cup Final!!

Coach Rod Tanner had this to say to Talk Sport’s Ian Abrahams: “That was a real battle against strong opposition in which everyone played their part.  Player of the game goes to Ronnie for his relentless tackling and forward runs.  Another great team performance, well done everyone.”

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