Champion Jags bring home more Silverware!!
By Jez Hands
...going undefeated in another Northamptonshire tournament.
After recent friendly wins away at AFC Warden (0-4) and Falcons (0-8), the Jags returned to tournament action in Northampton.
An 11-a-side competition allowed the coaches to bring all the current squad, including very welcome new signings Jack and Joel. As always, Jags numbers also boosted by a big turn-out of supporters on the touchline…
A relatively rare tournament format, there were no knock-out rounds, the set-up being that all teams played one another, with the trophy going to the “league” winners. While perhaps lacking the sometimes harsh random drama of penalty shoot-outs, it was a format that more likely saw the strongest teams succeed over the whole day.
With some very capable and well-known opposition turning out, the Jags set themselves up well in Game 1, with Leo’s last minute winner against a very strong Bugbrooke side - who the Jags had only narrowly overcome in the final of the Parklands tournament last month.
The 2nd match was against another strong Northants team, the Kingsthorpe Jets. Newport fell behind and were then denied a penalty, with the referee unsighted as an opposing defender handled the ball. However, the Jags fought back with energy and determination to secure a well-deserved 1-1 draw thanks to Henry’s equaliser.
Next up were the tournament hosts, Grange Park. The Jags returned to winning ways, with a very confident and assured 0-2 victory.
The unfolding league table pointed to Newport’s next game being a key match, against an in-form side, the ON Chenecks. Although the Jags played some quality football and dominated much of the play, the boys were unable to convert, as the opposition keeper made a number of very fine saves. Surviving a late scare when Chenecks made a rare break-away visit to the Newport’s defensive third, the game closed out 0-0.
At the half way stage, although Newport were well placed, the table remained very tight, as all teams were dropping points in hard fought games.
Moving into Game 5 after lunch, against Welland Valley, it was evident that Newport had already played most of the stronger sides. So, although some slight disappointment at two earlier draws, an 8 point tally from the first 4 games proved to have been a very solid haul indeed. Winning 2-0 against Welland, the Jags’ football was outstanding and, but for another fine goalkeeping display, the score would certainly have been rather higher.
The 6th game was against fellow MK outfit, Tattenhoe Youth. A team that Newport have found to be tricky tournament opposition in the past. This time though, no slip ups - with a goal in the first 2 minutes being the platform for a convincing 3-0 win.
The schedule meant it was then a very long break until Newport’s final game - as other teams among the leading pack were left to battle for points in some very evenly matched games. Consecutive draws in two key matches restricted the points going to Newport's closest rivals, so that, by the time of the last game, the Jags found themselves already in an unassailable position at the top of the table.
An accomplished final performance against Rushden and Higham saw the boys run out 5-0 winners - taking the overall title with a 4 point lead, while also recording the highest number of goals scored and (along with 2nd placed Chenecks) conceding just 1. Making it a full-house for the Jags, Dylan also collected the tournament’s golden boot award.
In addition to those already name checked, well done to all the other boys, Alex, Billy, Charlie, Harry, Luca, Roman, Sam, Seo, Sonny, Theo and Tom. Every one of the boys in the squad played a full part in bringing home yet another piece of silverware, adding to the burgeoning Jags’ trophy cabinet accumulated over recent seasons.
Thanks, as always, to coaches Scott and Kierran - and to Daren, Neil, Jon, Dean, Nik, Graham and Norma for taking turns with the linesman’s flag.
Celebrations at the end of a long day - with great company in and around the Newport compound - and the players, their talent and behaviour on the pitch, always a credit to the Newport club.
#COYG and well done everyone in the Jags family…