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U13 Jaguars - Match centre

FC Castlethorpe Youth
Newport Pagnell Town FC
Sat 16 Feb 10:00 - League Full time

Jags take the points in a very hard fought contest away at Castlethorpe

…and keep themselves in the title chase

The Jags returned to winning ways, with a battling performance in a fiercely contested game against a strong Castlethorpe team. The home team were undoubtedly on a high after their impressive 6-1 win over league leaders (Gallacticos Titans) last weekend.

Although weather conditions were generally good, the pitch was extremely bumpy and rather narrower than the boys’ home ground at Willen Road. That said, the smaller field allowed the boys to focus more on passing football, with both sides less susceptible to the long ball style of some other teams.

Having a number of very big players, Castlethorpe certainly provided another strong physical challenge for the Newport boys - and it required a great work-rate and huge determination to compete.

In a lively end-to end start, it was Castlethorpe that had the initial advantage, pressing persistently on the Newport goal. Keeper Josh made two excellent early saves - the first, a one-handed stop down to his right - the second, holding up the incoming shot with an outstretched foot, which Roman then cleared.

Riding the early storm, Jags got into their stride and made several chances of their own. Both Harry and Theo were busy down the wings - and the boys were certainly creating plenty of opportunities. Several attempts went close, notably Henry doing well to meet a fast moving cross, but seeing the ball spin just spun over the bar.

Newport also, once again, found themselves facing a very capable keeper. Very quick off his line, he repeatedly reached the ball before Jags’ strikers were able to pick up the through pass. He also made a fine save from a well hit Dylan free-kick.

As well as a very physical style of play, Castlethorpe were constantly quick into the tackle and Jags found they had very little time on the ball

With the game 0-0 at Half Time, the match was finely poised - both teams having had good goal scoring opportunities. At that stage, it was difficult to call the final outcome.

However, the second half began with Newport very much on the front foot - and, before long, the Jags were 0-1 up. A Leo free-kick into the goal area unsettled the home team and Dylan’s imposing presence caused some momentary confusion among the defenders, with the ball dropping just over the line as an own-goal.

A short while later, Leo went close with a right-foot shot, picking up a fine cross from Luca who had beaten several players with an impressive surging run down the left.

Midway through the first half, Dylan was brought down after a similarly powerful run up the left wing. With the foul given, Newport expectantly took up their positions in the box. Seo stepped up and struck the resulting free-kick perfectly, the ball soaring over the defenders and keeper before dipping into the top corner. Two-Nil the Jags.

With the boost of a two goal margin, the boys seemed to up their game even more and dominated the next 10-15 minutes. A fine free-kick from Leo dropped dangerously into the goalmouth, the final touch going just wide from Theo - while a second free-kick from Seo sailed just over the bar.

A 3rd goal looked ever more likely and a great opportunity when Henry slotted the ball through to Theo, who had timed his run towards the box perfectly. To the frustration of players and supporters, the move was halted when the Jags’ player was incorrectly judged to be offside.

The final 10 minutes were more tense, with opportunities being created at both ends. Somewhat battered and bruised towards the end of very hard fought contest, the Jags played out with real determination for their 0-2 victory and, against a difficult Castlethorpe side, overall proved worthy winners.

The 3 points were certainly well earned and, while not enough to move the Jags further up the league table, with games in hand they remain firmly in the title race - and now have the best goal difference of the division’s Top 4.

It was another fine performance from the whole team. Charlie and Luca real quality at the back, both in their tackling and distribution - plus the coaches mentioning Billy as having a particularly good game on the right side of defence. Harry, Henry, Sonny and Roman all taking some tough knocks against bigger opposition, but none of them ever stopped battling. Sam and Seo working really well together, with tireless running as they covered every blade of midfield. Dylan and Theo constantly disrupting the home side’s defence with their running, while Leo sat just behind, ably bridging midfield and attack.

This time, Man of the Match went to keeper Josh, with the coaches highlighting those two vital saves at the beginning of the game, which ensured the Jags did not find themselves having to fight back from an early deficit.

The FA Respect: We Only Do Positive

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