Cheltenham Saracens welcomed their Town counterparts ‘Russell Milton’s, Cheltenham Town academy to Petersfield Park for this prestigious friendly.
With Saracens 0-3 defeat still fresh in their minds from their
weekends loss to Monmouth Town U19s, Saracens had a hard training session during the week prior to this game, and this certainly paid off. With key performances from his players coming out of this game, Manager Darren Tunncliff & his fellow coaches, Sean Bryan and John Sayce can be very happy indeed with the shape taking place to their team.
As expected Cheltenham Town started the game quicker and with a mixture of u16s & u18s players, for the first quarter of the hour, had the lion’s share of possession.
Saracens defence of Ash Hill, Louis Sone, & Capt Scott Gourley, along with Keeper, James Andrews were excellent during this period for which Cheltenham Coe probed but could not find a way through the Saracens defensive line. As the first half wore on, inspired by their excellent forwards, Kurtis Burrows and Josh Dunn, Saracens became more and more confident and took the game back to their opponents often superbly turning defending into quick counter attack phases of play.
Saracens midfielder Jake Ballinger switched to central midfield instead of his usual left wing was dominant and stood up strengths wise to his opponents. Ballinger & fellow colleague Jack Isher often found themselves marking an extra Town player but organised themselves superbly to often pressurised the Town players.
Town thought they had opened the scoring after 25mins when a curling left wing shot was heading into the top corner but Saracens keeper, Andrews superbly tipped the ball round the post for a corner. From this corner, a combination of Town headers, was looking for a finish, but not for the first time the magnificent Gourley was at hand to clear the danger.
Saracens Sam Gorry’s continuous tireless running down the right hand side sent a delightful cross for new signing Josh Dunn to send a powerful header just over the Towns crossbar. With Town playing the ball out from their defence, Saracens maintained a high positional pressure on this defence and gained possession through winning lots of ball through this strategy.
New signing Gorry was excellent in his attacking and defensive duties often doubling up with right back, ‘Hartpury student’ Ash Hill. Burrows so nearly gave Saracens a dream end to the first half, his superb jinking run saw him cut inside the Town defence and slam a shot which the impressive town keeper turned round the post for a corner.
Saracens needed much repairs to their tiring squad and changes saw ‘Hartpury Student’ Brad Bernard replace the excellent hard working Josh Dunn, whilst young, 15year old Charlie Mahon, replaced Jack Isher who is still finding his fitness after missing much of last season through injury. Mahon showed great maturity and with Town replacements being made Mahon’s vision and positional sense was faultless.
Again high pressure from Saracens enabled them to pressurise Towns defence, New signing replacement 17year old, Jack Kelly ‘last seasons u18s top scorer in the Bristol Combination league’ thought he had put Saracens ahead with a superb finish but for to be disallowed for offside.
Town was probing Saracens defence looking for a weakness but came up across the formidable defenders, Hill, Sone and Gourley. A superb Mahon-Burrows one two pass combination resulted in Burrows skipping through but saw his strong powerful shot tipped over the bar by the Town keeper. Saracens scored their second goal but again a decision by the linesman disallowed the Saracens headed goal.
As the game came to the final quarter, both sides went hammer and tong looking for the winner but both sides just could not find that elusive winner. Saracens went off the pitch with much applause ringing in the ears from the well supported crowd.