College ends season with Greater Manchester Cup win
Hopwood Hall College’s football academy capped off a superb season with a cup final win against Aquinas College.
After the Middleton based college had already claimed the league cup, they set their eyes on the final silverware of the season; the Greater Manchester U-18s County Cup.
After knocking out other football academies such as FC United on the way to the final, the Hopwood boys were feeling confident in their chances to take home the cup against the Stockport College.
Stockport County's Edgely Park Stadium hosted the final, with plenty of chances being created by both sides. Despite this, it took until 44th minute before either side scored, with Hopwood Hall’s Reece Axon slotting home after a perfectly timed run behind the defence.
Then, just two minutes after the second half began, skipper Ben Matthews made it 2-0 with a familiar far-post header.
Hopwood Hall’s dominance would prove to be their undoing, as they became too comfortable Aquinas smelt a potential come back.
Pictured: Hopwood Hall College winning team photo.
12 minutes from time and Aquinas punished Hopwood’s sloppy play with a goal from outside the area.
The turning point proved to be the 85th minute. After Aquinas’ number nine struck what looked like a certain goal, Hopwood’s Jordan Rigg produced what his manager described as a ‘Gordon Banks’ save, getting down low and pushing the chance round the post.
Rigg’s magic proved to be the spark the team needed to get a grip back on play, pushing Aquinas back until the 92nd to earn a tight 2-1 win; earning the title of the top college team in Greater Manchester.
Pictured: Hopwood Hall College celebrate win.
Hopwood Hall College’s Football Academy Manager, Rob Johnson, summed up his emotions following a season of success:
“All staff and students are really proud of a fantastic season winning back to back titles.
“Winning is great, but winning playing attractive football is even better. Also, winning 16 league games in a row is a massive achievement and it shows how special these boys have been.
“I've been lucky to work with a terrific bunch of lads who've bought in to the idea of keep the ball when we have it, win it back quickly when we don't. We've also worked on a rotational policy (if you're not in the squad this week, you are the week after) so every one of the players has been instrumental in winning the league.
“Adding the County Cup is the cherry on the cake to this season. I am immensely proud of all the boys and I want to wish the best of luck to those who have completed their education with us and will be moving on in September.”