United rounded off their excellent Merit League campaign in style, with a convincing win against bottom side Bristol Rovers.Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us:
Having already won the league, we made the decision on the second year scholars, leaving an opportunity for a number of triallists to play in an under-18’s competitive fixture. Out of the starting XI, seven were triallists.
Despite this, the side played well and dominated possession against a Rovers side that came looking for a draw. However, it was the visitors who took the lead, going 1-0 up after 20 minutes. Heads didn’t drop though, and straight from kick-off we played the ball wide to George Jeacock. Good work from Shandon Baptiste set up a triallist who slotted home for an instant equaliser.
Five minutes later Jeacock received the ball from Canice Carroll and his cross was met by the same triallist, who scored his second to make the half-time score 2-1. At the break we told the lads to be a bit cuter in possession and not to force things but relax.
The half-time team talk had an immediate impact! We were still walking back to the bench at the start of the half when within 45 seconds of the restart Baptiste’s cross was met by another triallist, who volleyed home.
Baptiste himself scored the fourth goal; he got to the edge of the box, faked a shot and then slotted the ball past the Bristol keeper. The fifth goal saw the triallist who scored the first two complete his hat-trick when he beat the goalie with a drilled shot.
I was pleased for the triallists, who showed that they could compete in an under-18 environment.
Starters for the U’s included Manny Agboola, Canice Carroll, Shandon Baptiste and George Jeacock, while Jordan Graham, Dejon Williams and Graham Bryan all came on as substitutes.