Collingwood football seal league title
A HARD FOUGHT 1-0 victory over an impressive John Snow A saw Collingwood A clinch the men’s football Premiership title in the final match of the season.
Mike Smith’s coolly-taken penalty ten minutes into the second half was enough to put the game beyond John Snow and hand the championship to Collingwood.
Reigning champions John Snow had come into the match three points behind Collingwood and were looking to win by two goals or more to achieve the three points and superior goal difference needed to retain the title.
They began the match brightly and exerted a lot of early pressure on a nervous Collingwood side, with Keith Miu’s looping throw-ins causing particular problems.
Collingwood defended well at several crucial points, keeping their opponents at bay, but found it almost impossible to make any headway up front. John Snow looked the more settled of the teams, showing greater composure on the ball especially when attacking, but failed to convert their forward forays into genuine tests for Collingwood goalkeeper Andy O’Neill.
As the half wore on both teams went close to breaking the deadlock. Collingwood’s Phil Critchley headed against the bar just after the half hour mark, and then moments later a glancing header fell to John Snow’s Joe Greenham unmarked in the area, who slipped as he volleyed his shot over the bar.
Collingwood went close again just before half time when George Cockbill tried to flick the ball in at the near post from a corner, but a scrambled clearance from the John Snow back line kept the match goalless at half-time.
With only 45 minutes left to hold on, Collingwood seemed to relax a bit at the start of the second half, and began playing the ball along the ground more in a bid to break down the John Snow defence.
This style of play almost paid off within seven minutes of the restart as Critchley’s excellent through ball put Smith in on goal, but his shot was well blocked.
Collingwood were suddenly able to get forward and run at the John Snow defence, and it was another excellent through ball that led to the turning point of the match.
On 55 minutes, Tom Hoskins went to ground as he tried to head past the onrushing goalkeeper Peter Brundy and the referee adjudged he had been fouled, awarding a penalty with little hesitation. Smith stepped up and fired the ball past Brundy to give Collingwood a crucial 1-0 lead.
John Snow now needed to score three in thirty five minutes to prevent Collingwood from being crowned champions, but buoyed by the goal it was Collingwood who looked the most likely scorers as they maintained their positive passing play, pushing forward in search of a second.
Nevertheless, after recovering from the initial blow John Snow rallied and managed to create some of the best chances of the match.
They fought back into the game and came close to an equaliser through Chris Hall whose shot skimmed off the outside of the post. The last fifteen minutes saw good chances for Nick Rhodes, who headed narrowly over, and Javier Garay, who couldn’t get his shot away in time after he was picked out inside the area.
Collingwood had a few half chances to wrap up the win but were content to maintain possession and seal the championship.
A clearly delighted O’Neill, speaking after the match, was quick to praise John Snow as well as highlighting the team effort from the whole Collingwood A squad. “John Snow did make it hard for us in fairness”, he said. “We were still nervous until we got the goal, and then that gave our lads a lot of confidence. It’s been a team effort all year; we’ve had about sixteen different players play for us this year and all our lads have fought really hard, whoever’s been involved.”