An action-packed afternoon saw Santos U12s share a 12-goal thriller with Denton Youth Blacks U12s in Division 7. With both teams locked on 15 points, this was a crucial game in the battle to finish in the league's top four and Santos were down to the bare bones with no substitutes to call on and two players feeling under the weather.
Joe Bamford was deployed up front as a target man and he linked up well with the midfield four as the game settled down. Finn Whatmough got an early sight of goal but Lucas Ward was the first to hit the target when he arrowed a low shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Hayden Wood was unlucky not to extend the lead when he broke from his own half and cracked a shot against the post, and Denton capitalised on that good fortune to equalise by nodding in from a corner.
Ward was again in the right place at the right time to follow up Whatmough's saved effort and put Santos 2-1 ahead. Whatmough missed a great chance to add another at the far post and Denton once again took advantage of their luck as keeper Sebastian Toms failed to hold a spinning shot which gifted them an open goal to make it 2-2.
But Santos immediately got their noses ahead again, with Adam Shallcross playing the ball through to Whatmough and he made no mistake from the centre of the penalty box. So 3-2 up at half time.
Oak Champarath was impressive in centre midfield and he scored the goal of the game to put Santos 4-2 in front with a long-range effort that flew into the top corner. Full-backs Jayden Mackie and Connah Brown had their work cut out trying to handle the wide players and they turned the game in Denton's favour. Toms made a couple of good saves in one-on-one situations but he had to pick the ball out of the net on three other occasions.
Denton, 5-4 up and with the luxury of fresh legs to bring on, now looked likely to win but stubborn Santos summoned the energy to keep mounting attacks of their own. Ward got in down the left and fired a bullet of a shot through the keeper's arms from a narrow angle, completing his hat-trick in emphatic fashion. And then Wood combined with Bamford and Champarath to burst through and confidently slot Santos into an amazing 6-5 lead.
But Denton weren't quite finished and they had the last word with goal number 12 of the game to ensure they took a share of the spoils. However, this was still a positive result for Santos that keeps them in the driving seat for a fourth place finish.
Author: Richard Toms