A magnificent effort in the County Cup final

Our Year 10 team reached their third county cup final in four years beating Priory School, Uckfield, Claremont, Durrington and Bedes en route to the final. Having won the trophy in Year 7 and losing out on penalties in Year 9, Parker were determined to taste success this time round as they faced a strong Ardingly team.

Parker got off to a dreadful start conceding two early goals, seemingly unable to cope with the pace and skill of their talented striker. This left Parker with a mountain to climb. The boys didn’t lose faith and clawed themselves back into the game, sticking to their passing game with a high energy defensive press which forced Ardingly to often lose possession.

Ward delivered a free kick into a dangerous area causing hesitation in the Ardingly defence, which Mapstone capitalised on pouncing on the loose ball to get Parker back into the match. In Parker’s pursuit of an equaliser, Corke had a goal disallowed for offside and Mapstone hit the post with a header, this time from a Peacock free kick. The equaliser wasn’t short in coming though and it was the goal of the match, Ward dribbling past three players before unleashing a thunderbolt from 25 yards. Parker were dominating possession and territory and went into the half time break 3-2 ahead thanks to another Ward goal, this time a free kick from close to the corner flag.

The second half started as the first finished, Avery forcing an Ardingly defender into losing possession then calmly slotting the ball through the keepers’ legs. With the score now 4-2 the trophy seemed destined to return to Hastings. Unfortunately, Ardingly had other ideas. Parker were still well in control of possession when Ardingly broke away to score their third goal, a shot from outside the box. It wasn’t long after before they scored their fourth. This time from a very difficult angle, exposing tiring legs in the Parker team. In truth, the effort to overturn an early two goal deficit may well have been too big a challenge for Parker to then be able to manage the game and maintain their lead. Parker did have several opportunities with the score at 4-4 but shots from Peacock, Palmer, Warren, Ward and Corke were either straight at the goalkeeper or narrowly off target. Ardingly rode their luck and managed a winner of their own. With three minutes to go the Ardingly striker raced through the Parker defence to score past Craddock.

Coach Jimmy Elford said, “Wow, what a game, in a week where we’ve seen some great comebacks (Liverpool and Tottenham both overcoming big deficits in Champions League semi-finals), unfortunately we’ve been on the receiving end, having staged our own earlier in the match! The boys were magnificent and gave all they could; we will be back again next year where we hope to win!”