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In what was a repeat of last year's final, the key difference this year was NLS's cutting edge up front as the boys cruised to a 4-0 victory over a game Higham Lane.

In 2017 and as Y10, NLS faced a physically powerful and skilful Higham Lane in a pulsating match over at Bedworth FC. With a dramatic last minute winner, NLS came out then as County Champions. This time round, the scoreline was far more emphatic with NLS winning 4-0 and spending much of the 2nd half controlling the game - having been 3-0 up by half-time.

The opening exchanges saw Higham Lane making more of the attacking play. The NLS boys have, though, played as a unit for many years now - with the core of the team having been primary school team-mates - so confidence oozed through the team as they soaked up the pressure and played something of a counter-attacking game.

About 10 minutes in, it was Jason who gave us the lead.

Recovering from injury that kept him out of last week's District Final, Jason's pace and strength was impressive as he stole down the left, cut in front of the right back, skipped past another to line up a shot from the edge of the box before being unceremoniously dumped to the ground under the heavy challenge of a desperate defender.

Dusting himself down, he unleashed an incisive penalty to the bottom left.

1-0 NLS!

Higham Lane continued to dominate possession with some nice interplay between the midfield and the big lad up top but the key difference was their failure to create clear-cut chances and to breach the dogged defence of Sam, Kelsey, Wazza and the increasingly imperious, colossus figure of Suni at centre-back.

Another counter produced an exquisite goal for North Leam...

With lovely passing in the midfield from the skilful, quick feet of Blu and the likes of George - as well as the combative and incisive Wilshire-eque Charlie - the ball ultimately found last week's Hat-trick Hero, Giroud (a.k.a Elliott). A beautifully whipped in ball from the right was met superbly by Jack B who, with the deftest but also surest of touches, hit it on the half-volley to lift it round the advancing 'keeper!

2-0 NLS!

Having had something of a quite game due to defensive superiority, Captain Jamie kept the boys grounded with his usual wise words booming from the box - "Keep your heads in this, lads", "It's still 0-0"... It wasn't. It was 2-0 NLS. But you know what he meant...

They proved wise words indeed as the determined Higham Lane continued to press forward ever more now that the scoreline and the clock was against them. Still, though, the opposition were limited to more hopeful efforts on goal despite some lovely passing about the team.

Before half-time, though, the game was put beyong any real, reasonable doubt.

No-one could argue Charlie is a greedy player: his industry and commitment to the crunchy challenge being evidence of this but so too the delightful touch to Jason as he'd threaded his way in to a clear shooting position on the edge of the box. Perhaps not expecting the ball, it initially eluded Jason but - with his undoubted striker's instinct and finishing skills - he delicately dinked the ball over the 'keeper from a tight angle leaving the remaining defender on the goal-line only able to help the ball in to the net.

Half-time: 3-0 NLS!

They say it's a "game of two halves" but this was perhaps a match of one half if truth be told and if this reporter is to be believed.

That's not to say that there wasn't commitment and skill to be seen: more so that the already confident NLS outfit were in the ascendancy and were able to dictate for much of the second half - thanks in part to Mr Wood who offered what he described as words that were "more tactical than I normally offer"! But who can argue with his managerial trophy haul - a modest man who leads terrific teams...

Higham Lane came out early from the Break and showed their team spirit and want to overturn the scoreline with a team huddle and passionate shouts. WIthout ever being complacent, the lads from North Leam took it all in their stride and continued to soak up any threat, negating once more the movements forward.

There were moments when desperation to get back in to the match led to mild unpleasantness - Charlie having to stand his ground against some sharp challenges and the perhaps unnecessarily aggressive protestations of his midfield counterpart - but the game continued to be largely played in a good, competitive spirit with skill and teamwork the hallmark of what was on show.

This was no more evident than when George sealed the win...

With some neat interplay in the centre of the park and a surge towards the Higham Lane end, George took control. As he battled his way in to the box he looked to have overplayed it - missing the opportunity to shoot from 12 yards, he instead rounded the shot stopper in the sticks before slotting it in from a near-impossible angle.

Cue rapture.

4-0 NLS!

Meanwhile, Ollie and Bradley had come on to shore things up at the back (Bradley) and to offer a height advantage going forwards as well as some beautifully incisive through balls (Ollie). The latter offered Jason a glorious opportunity for an excellent hat-trick but the ball just thwarted him and the threat of recurring injury meant this was his last real chance to keep the match ball. 

Captain Jamie showed very safe hands with those last remaining efforts on his goal and even safer hands when he gripped the well-deserved trophy at the end of 90 (well, 80) minutes.

Well done lads!














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