THE FIFTH Redditch United Schools Cup Final was played on Monday at the Valley Stadium and there is a new name on the cup after Ipsley RSA Academy defeated Woodfield Academy, writes Pete Toolan
This annual event is planned by TRUST (The Redditch United Supporters Trust) in liaison with the club and Redditch schools to further the club’s links with the community.
Once again this year eight teams from the Redditch middle schools played in two leagues – before a semi-final stage and ultimately the winners of each playing in the final at the Valley – and this time there were two first-time finalists.
A large, noisy and enthusiastic crowd created a real cup final atmosphere throughout the game as they reacted to the many goalmouth incidents, shots and saves and it was Ipsley who prevailed 4-1.
The early signs looked ominous for Woodfield as Ipsley settled quickly, with Connor Stanley rounding the keeper but shooting into the side-netting and then Ryan Jarvis – who was dominant in midfield – hit the post with a long range shot.
Woodfield keeper and man of the match Ryan Smith made several good saves when a goal looked certain and another attempt was hooked off the line.
However, Woodfield started to come into the game with a couple of attacks but after 15 minutes Ipsley opened the scoring when Reece Homer fired home after a good cross from Kieron Whitehead.
Some desperate defending and excellent goalkeeping kept Ipsley at bay and kept the crowd excited until Stanley – one of several skilful Ipsley players – extended the lead with a run and shot, leaving Ipsley 2-0 up at half time.
It looked as if the contest might be over when Jack Jeffcott made it 3-0 just five minutes into the second half, but Woodfield refused to give up and pulled one back when – to the delight of their supporters – Tyler Chapman latched on to a through ball and made it 3-1.
Ipsley were not to be denied, however, and Stanley added his second and Ipsley’s fourth after a solo run past three defenders.
Although Woodfield nearly scored again, it was Ipsley who finished the game strongly, with two long range shots smashing against the crossbar and Smith making a marvellous save.
Although Woodfield had drawn with Ipsley in the group stages, on this occasion Ipsley played the better football and deserved to win, but Woodfield can be proud of the way they kept plugging away to make it another exciting final.
The medals and cup were presented by Redditch United chairman Chris Swan, who praised the manner in which the game had been played and thanked the spectators for their support.
The man of the match award could easily have gone to Stanley, who was the most skilful player on the pitch, but was deservedly awarded to Smith for an excellent display of goalkeeping to keep his team in the match.
The game was a great advert for school sports and a very worthwhile event – linking Redditch United FC and the community – and next year’s final is eagerly anticipated.
Runners-up Woodfield. (s)
Redditch United chairman Chris Swan presents the cup to Ipsley. (s)
Woodfield keeper Ryan Smith receives his man of the match award from Reds chairman Chris Swan. (s)