Burnham Junior Lynx Blue vs Crookham Rovers Warriors
By Ivan Harper
Burnham Junior Lynx Blue Win EBFA League Cup Final
East Berkshire Football Alliance – League Cup Final
3rd May 2019
Burnham Junior Youth 4 v 0 Crookham Rovers Warriors
And so, to the final game in this Lynx Blues team’s long history, and what a finale it was! Against a very confident Crookham team, and on a fast, damp 3G surface, this was going to be a severe test for Burnham.
The opening salvos showed why the Blues have the reputation they have. Their football was sharp and slick, the fast surface lending itself to the way Burnham play best. The dialogue between the players was good, everybody was supporting each other, and it seemed as if this final would be a stroll in the park. But without goals, and with the obvious determination of a strong, well organized opposition, this stroll could easily turn into a struggle. It very nearly did.
Crookham gradually forced their way back into the game with some penetrating football. Crossfield passes and running into the channels were starting to cause problems for the Blues defenders. The midfield was now owned by Crookham, as their physicality and off the ball running became effective. A ball through the middle allowed Lee to home in on the Crookham goal, but with only the keeper to beat, a last ditch tackle took the ball away and the chance was gone. At the other end, a Crookham forward collected the ball with acres of space in front of him. His powerful run into the penalty area and blistering shot was brilliantly saved by Michael E, and the tackle made by Jack D to prevent the rebound being converted was a sight to behold. 2 wonderful pieces of defending. This passage of play showed just how determined the Blues were to win this game, and this spirit was evident throughout the team.
Numerous free kicks were being awarded to Crookham. The delivery of these kicks was good and they could have gone ahead had their heading had been more accurate. But Burnham were riding the storm, and were starting to re-assert their authority on the game. The attacking prowess of Donald on the left was fast becoming an issue to the Crookham players, and with Luke and Danny just about holding onto the midfield, and Matt and Michael C chasing everything down, the game was evenly poised.
With the game meandering towards half time, Sean and David were added to the fray. This had an immediate positive effect. The time on the ball for the Crookham midfield quartet was now rushed, and the Blues were now getting a grip on the game. The basis of this hold on the game was the strength and
vision of the Blues back four. The 3-Jays, Joe, Jack L and Jack D, together with Donald, were not allowing any chances to come Crookham’s way. Good interceptions and timely tackles prevented any clear chances for the opposition. With a minute to go before half time, the ball was pin-balling around the Burnham penalty area. Eventually the ball was cleared to Luke in the inside right position. His lay back to Jack L, and his subsequent superb pass down the right channel fell into the path of the onrushing Sam. His fine first time shot gave the keeper no chance, and Burnham went in at half time one up.
The second half began with the Blues confident and positive. Crookham appeared to have lost some discipline, and were conceding free kicks aplenty. Luke stepped up to take such a kick on the right, 20 yards from the Crookham penalty area. It was aimed at the far post where Jack L ghosted in like Suarez to head the ball in off the far post. This was just the start to the restart that Burnham wanted, the start that would surely kill off any hopes for Crookham – maybe. The frenzied cheering from the Crookham supporters never wavered, and it encouraged their players to stay focused and believe they could get back into the game. But there was a controlled solidity about the Blues. Even though the Crookham players had plenty of possession, they could not create chances of note. So when a long clearance from the assured Michael E was mis-controlled by the center half, Sam was again on hand to finish well and give an unassailable lead to his team. This was no more than Burnham deserved, and now was the time for game management and concentration, to focus on keeping a clean sheet. Ollie and Liam were brought on in the middle of the park and had an immediate effect. They combined well on the right to feed the ball out to Donald, on another of his probing runs, and causing the Crookham full back to mis-hit the ball out of defence. The result was a looping ball which fell to Lee on the edge of the area, and his flicked header found Sam in space, so having all the time in the world to shoot hard and low into the far corner, so completing his hat-trick.
Now 4 goals to the good, Burnham were in the driving seat. Sam and Liam had to retire injured, Liam with a broken wrist, and Jack D also limped off. Jack L moved to central defence alongside the impressive Joe, with Gabriel filling in at right back. These changes had no effect on the well oiled and well drilled pattern of the Blue’s game. 6 minutes injury time was added, but this was just more time for the Burnham players to enjoy themselves. They could have added to their total when Lee used his power and strength to get past a defender, creating a one-on-one with the keeper. But he was unable to control his shot, shooting wide.
To a man, the Burnham players had played this game superbly well. The overall control, organization and discipline were top notch, and they never really looked in danger of defeat.
The final whistle went, and Burnham Junior Youth, nee Lynx Blues, had won the Cup and completed the double. What a way to finish the season and an era! Hearty congratulations should go to all the players on ending on such a high note and giving us all so much enjoyment and so many good memories. Thanks and applause to you all!
Scorers: Sam (3), Jack L
This report will be the final one for this season, and for this Burnham Junior Lynx Blues team.
Since 2007 when the team was formed, I have written 200+ match reports, and if anybody would like a copy of any one of them, please ask.
The journey we have completed over the last 12 years has been full of ups and downs (many more ups than downs) and there are many stories to tell. We have come up against some quality teams, notably Langley Hornets, Bucks CC and Flackwell Heath Minors to name but a few, and met some interesting characters along the way. We’ve had several fierce encounters with our sister team, Burnham Junior Lynx Whites, which have caused ‘interesting debates’ among the parents.
We have seen dedication and loyalty from several members of the club, notably Ivan, who has instigated and progressed a bunch of 6 to 7 year-old lads into an adult team which has been feared, respected and admired over the years for their style of play and for being fair and honest in its approach to the game.
We have seen long service from players, not just from Lynx Blues but also from Lynx Whites, who have stayed loyal to the club since the Lynx’s formation. Donald Holliday, Danny Di Cioccio (who both switched from Whites to Blues), Rhys Harper, and especially Joe Palmer (with close on 340 appearances for Lynx Blues) should all take a bow.
We have played in several cup finals, losing out on only two occasions (once to Lynx Whites). We have been League Champions (but maybe not as often as we would like). We have taken part in numerous tournaments, invariably reaching the latter stages of, or winning, most of them. We were particularly unlucky to be removed from the prestigious Berks & Bucks County Cup competition at the semi-final stage in 2017 when a mouth-watering final against Bucks CC was beckoning. This will go down as the most disappointing moment for me personally.
But there have been joyous times. The tours to Camber Sands, Brixham, Selsey, Clacton (x2) and Barcelona all generated special, memorable moments. Winning the second Clacton tournament, beating a highly rated team from Hednesford in the final, was particularly pleasing. Just as important as winning that particular competition was also being awarded the tournament’s Sportsman’s Trophy which recognized the manner in which Lynx Blues play the game, and the respect shown by them to opposition players and officials. It’s not often tournament winners also receive this accolade.
But this success, off the pitch as well as on, can only be generated by the enthusiasm of the players who go out and perform every week to a standard of which they, and their parents, should be proud. It is only because of the players learning from each game and taking on board the advice and instructions given by managers and coaches that Lynx Blues have been able to compete successfully at the highest level for 13 years. I remember Ivan saying back then that he wanted any player who represented Lynx Blues to play the game a certain way and meet and become friends socially, not only with other Lynx Blues players, but also with players representing other clubs. This would help them with their social standing later-on in life. I think, without a doubt, he has achieved this goal.
It must not be forgotten that all this was only possible because of the help and support given by Burnham Junior Football Club, and all who are involved with it. They (BJFC) have given, and hopefully will continue to give, boys and girls a positive platform and a way forward for their football careers. A big thank you to them.
I wish all the players success and enjoyment in their future football careers, whichever path they choose to take. Please keep us informed regarding how you progress.
Finally, it only remains for me to say it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be involved, and to meet and become friends with so many parents of Lynx Blues (and even some opposition team’s) players over the years. I’m sure the friendships formed will last many more years to come, and I look forward to remembering and reminiscing with you all in the future - maybe over a beer or two!
Good luck and best wishes to you all.
This is your Burnham Junior Lynx Blues reporter - signing off.