A Sunday morning filled with action at Harrod Sport Arena. Fakenham Town dominated the first half snatching the only goals of the occasion. While North Walsham battled to the end, it wasn’t enough to stop Fakenham lifting the John Savage Cup.
Fakenham looked in fine shape as the game kicked off this morning pushing for a goal early on. The first chance of the game fell to Alfie Calaz whose shot from the left warranted a solid catch from Ben Andrews in the North Walsham goal. This became a common theme of the game as the left-hand side of the pitch experienced much of the joy from Fakenham’s attacking efforts in the first half.
Playing with two attacking wingbacks began to prove deadly for Fakenham with Tjay Kerr and Ben Terry taunting the North Walsham defenders with their quick feet and pin-point crossing.
During a domination of possession from Fakenham in the first 5 minutes of the game, North Walsham chased and pressed relentlessly through their midfield hoping for a loose ball. Eventually, their first chance came with a tackle winning possession and the ball falling to Jesse Fenn at the edge of the box. His strike was hit with power but narrowly missed the goal wide of the post.
Moments later, Bradley Dagniho applied pressure at the edge of the box to win the ball. He skillfully feinted and moved the ball inside and produced a promising strike only for it to be blocked by a flying Fakenham leg.
It would be Fakenham Town who would break the deadlock with only ten minutes played. A beautiful play beginning in the middle of the park saw Finley Whiteley switch the ball out wide to Calaz. His low cross was accurate in finding a darting run from Terry in the middle who tapped in the goal past an outstretched keeper.
Proving to be the playmaker of the game, Whiteley continued his control of the game through unlocking opportunities with his incredible switches of play and troubling passes. Moments after the first goal, Whiteley pickpocketed a North Walsham defender before unleashing a devastating strike that worried the keeper only to swerve off target.
North Walsham seemed to lack motivation following conceding a goal; however, life was injected back into their play following shouts for handball after a Jaiden Vadhir strike. The claims were waived away by today’s match official, James Ludlam.
Defensively, North Walsham were largely reactive in their play. This proved effective to deny Terry’s second of the game when his long-distance strike was denied by a lunging block from Jak Reynolds.
However, it wasn’t enough to deny Fakenham’s second goal. Whiteley delicately lobbed a through ball to Terry who carved open the North Walsham back line to pick out Josh Blower who finished his chance to double the score line.
Half Time - North Walsham FC U16’s 0 – 2 Fakenham Town FC U 16’s
Coming out of the blocks for the second half, North Walsham began to trouble the Fakenham back line. Both Captain Finlay Page and Jayden Wright saw more pressure in their half than they enjoyed in the first half. The pair of centre backs denied a start of a comeback with two brilliant blocks at the edge of the box.
The early opportunities for North Walsham unsettled the Fakenham squad with their passes becoming picked off by the opposing midfield.
Fakenham eventually regained their cool with an onslaught of attacking play ten minutes into the second half. A freekick was won 25 yards out with Whiteley stepping up to deliver from the right. A drifting cross saw the ball roll across the goal mouth begging for a someone to take the chance.
Moment later, Terry pressed the North Walsham defence to win the ball and link up with his other wing back, Kerr, to create an opportunity. Kerr’s shot warranted a fantastic block save from Andrews in goal. Another opportunity came begging seconds later as Zak Jones’ half-volley was rejected by a diving save to Andrews’ right.
In retaliation to this onslaught of chance, North Walsham reacted with a flurry of attacking opportunities. Jack Greenwood looked deadly as he pushed forward and ricocheted a low shot that was touched on to the post by George Riches earning his team a corner. Jak Reynolds met the corner with a diving header that forced a flying save from Riches once again protecting his team’s two goal lead.
The end-to-end action saw tensions heighten as both teams offered crunching tackles against their opponents. However, it would see Wright enter the book for a rash tackle near the centre circle.
Fakenham regain composure following this, creating opportunities in the next ten minutes with Page launching the ball forwards to Owusu Adu who’s chance was thwarted by Jack Cobbold. Fakenham continued looking for a third goal to seal the game with Jones cutting the back line open to play Whiteley one on one with the keeper. His cheeky lob was quickly blocked by the North Walsham goalkeeper.
The last clear moment of hope for North Walsham to inspire a comeback saw Terry slide through and thwart a last-gasp counter attack to protect the clean sheet.
Full Time - North Walsham FC U16’s 0 – 2 Fakenham Town FC U 16’s
North Walsham FC U16’s:Ben Andrews, Callum Bales, Oscar Warburton, Thomas Needham, Jaiden Vadhir, Zak Cork ©, Bradley Dagniho, Charlie Harris, Oliver Mitchell, Jak Reynolds, Jesse Fenn.
Subs: Jack Cobbold, Jack Greenwood, Henry Stoker, Lewis King, Quinn Fenn.
Fakenham Town FC U 16’s: George Riches, Finlay Page ©, Sam Gorbould, Jayden Wright, Jude Frostick, Josh Blower, Finley Whiteley, Alfie Calaz, Ben Terry, Tjay Kerr, Jake Poore.
Subs: George Eggett, Josh Gauntlett, Zak Jones, Joe Harris, Daniel Owusu Adu.
Referee: James Ludlam.
Assistants: Kye McCourt-Hall & Alex Melton.
Fourth Official: John Fogarty.
Player of the Match: Finley Whiteley
Photography: Cyan Fullbrook, @cyan_rose