York Mitchell Sports League - Under-13s
Another evening match due to a fixtures backlog, with only a draw required to secure the league title, with two games still to play.
Pocklington began with a slightly reshuffled line up with Matthew McGurk on the left wing, Dan Litherland and Will Frasier moved to centre midfield and Josh Craven at right back. Connor Marshall played up front with Elliot Russsell on the right wing, Richard McKay at left back, and James Snowball and George Booth both in the centre defence positions, in front of Jack Potter in goal with Joe Cahill as sweeper.
A customary quick goal from Marshall within two minutes masked a strangely lethargic first-half performance, in which Aviva were allowed too much freedom by an unusually hesitant Pocklington, allowing Aviva to mount a number of dangerous attacks.
The second goal came after a near miss by Will Frasier, as Dan Litherland pounced on a loose ball and rifled home his shot. Aviva got back into the game with a goal following a defensive error. This did seem to elicit a response and some nice passing between Litherland, Russell and Marshall led to a close effort from Marshall. Both Russell and Frasier had good efforts just wide.
A reshuffle, with McGurk being replaced by Pearson and Litherland switching to his customary left wing position, did lead to a more cohesive period of play from Pocklington, with a powerful shot, and goal three soon followed from a corner, where intense pressure led to panic in the goalmouth, and George Booth finally scored. A surging run from Litherland, followed by a pass to the unmarked Russell, was ruled offside. Richard McKay was replaced by Matthew Reaney due to an injury approaching half time.
The half-time team talk had a massive effect on the second half performance and was later described by Dan Litherland as the best he had heard as Dave Pearson and Jay McGurk berated and inspired their team to good effect.
The second half was a totally one-sided affair as a reinvigorated Pocklington totally outplayed the visitors. Dan Litherland whipped in a cross to Marshall which brought out the best in the Aviva keeper. A repeat performance saw Marshall lash the ball just wide. Some neat passing between Litherland and Marshall led to a goal from Matthew Pearson, which should do wonders for his confidence in front of goal.
The onslaught continued with a solo effort from Litherland, followed by a Marshall goal latching on to a through ball from Litherland. Alex Smith split the defence with an intelligent pass to Litherland whose shot was well saved. Marshall had a spate of chances and was, by his standards, a little profligate.
A Marshall free kick following a foul on Litherland was well-struck and went just over. Marshall soon got into the groove again and goal number seven came from a pass from Litherland, soon followed by another Marshall goal.
It was now to be Litherland’s turn to be frustrated as he shot wide, then had an effort saved, then hit the side netting after a lovely pass from George Booth.
Perseverance was rewarded as Litherland made it 9-1. James Snowball broke out of defence and beat several defenders only to see his shot saved. Goal number 10 came from Marshall latching on to another cross from Litherland.
Russell provided a neat pass for Litherland who shot just wide, but the same combination led to goal number 12 as Litherland scored. Litherland added another just before the whistle sounded to offer respite to Aviva after a second-half demolition job.
Played 16 won 16, goal difference +121, promotion and league title secured. Man of the match went to the hard-working, improving Matthew Reaney, who stuck to his game plan.