Moorland School from Clitheroe, Lancashire, have beaten the odds yet again to complete a truly remarkable achievement and lift the Investec ISFA U13 Cup for 2017!
Moorland School’s U13 team had bravely battled through six tough encounters to reach the final, staged at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium on Thursday 2nd of March.
The final was contested between Moorland School and the mighty Whitgift School of Croydon. Whitgift had triumphed in this particular competition for the previous 6 years running. However, on the day they were no match for the slick and impressive Moorland boys!
Despite the rich heritage of the Moorland School Football Academy, the Moorland U13s were still seen as underdogs’ going into last week’s final due to Whitgift School having such an illustrious heritage. Whitgift boast a mighty school population of 1,500 boys, whereas Moorland School have a student population of less than 200 students.
The final proved to be a game fitting of the fantastic surroundings of Burton Albion’s home ground. Moorland School were determined to show their intent early on by dazzling Whitgift with a composed and impressive brand of possession-based football.
Indeed, Moorland School were driven forward by their impressive midfield maestro Jay Haddow. The vast majority of the first-half exchanges were dominated by Moorland.
However, it was the second half when Moorland really turned the screw on Whitgift and pressed for a winner. Moorland had the ball in the back of Whitgift’s net on a few occasions, only to be beaten by the referee’s whistle or linesman’s flag. As the game approached extra-time, it was Moorland School who looked increasingly likely to break the deadlock.
Whitgift were stubborn opponents throughout, however as Moorland continued with their slick attacking football, it was evident that eventually the Whitgift rearguard would crack. On the few occasions in which Whitgift penetrated the Moorland defence, they found the Moorland custodian Jack Howard in inspired form between the posts.
With penalties looming large and extra-time coming to a close, it was left for Moorland School’s Jay Haddow to produce a final flourish and composed finish to score a fine last-minute winner for Moorland. It was fitting that Haddow should come up trumps with the winner. The latter sparked wild scenes of joy from Moorland School’s travelling supporters!
The final whistle prompted a pitch invasion and joyous scenes from all connected to Moorland School! It was evident how much hard work and endeavour had gone into such a triumph, and the pride and relief at the end were palpable.
Moorland has long had a reputation for upsetting the odds in national football tournaments. Indeed, Moorland won the ISFA U16 Shield in 2014, along with the Lancashire Cup in the same year. Last season (2015-2016) Moorland reached the final of the ESFA U12 Trophy, held at Reading FC’s Madejski Stadium.
Coach Jackson’s philosophy is centred on quick passing, technical ability and possession-based football, which has been evident throughout Moorland’s remarkable journey to the final and this great triumph.
This latest triumph only adds to the legacy of Coach Jackson and all those who contribute to such achievements for the Moorland Football Academy!
Written by Carl Lightbown