Spot-on Max keeps cool as Old Loughts claim Mercian League title in dramatic win
PUBLISHED: 10:41 18 May 2018
Old Loughtonians under-16 boys have been celebrating after clinching the Mercian League title this season.
The Chigwell club hosted the league’s finals day at their Luxborough Lane base and made home advantage count in a fitting end to an incredible season.
Being hosts for the big occasion had given the boys an added incentive from the start of the season to be participating on the day at the very least.
And having done what was necessary to secure a place in the top four competing for the trophy, finals day was approached with an overwhelming determination to win the title.
There was a little trepidation when it became apparent the first game was to be against Surbiton, who had won the National Championships weeks earlier, but having missed the chance of playing them then, the Loughts boys were even more fired up.
A slightly nervy start nearly resulted in an early goal for their rivals, but Loughts got into their stride and began to dominate.
Having kept the scoreline blank in the first half and rattled the confidence of Surbiton, Loughts kept up the pressure in the second half, staying solid in defence and taking every opportunity to attack to claim a 2-0 win.
Facing Fareham in the final, the boys were focused from the start and built a 3-1 lead by the break. But the second half saw a very determined Fareham side try to make a comeback.
Despite their best efforts, and with overwhelming support from the under-18 boys and others on the sidelines, Loughts conceded a breakaway second goal.
And with very little time left and Fareham moving to a full-on attack mode, a short corner was conceded and an equaliser scored.
Loughts looked exhausted as sudden death extra time began, with both sides missing chances to win it in the first period.
But with seconds to spare at the end of the first half, Fareham conceded a penalty flick and there was no hesitation from Max Garner as he stepped up.
After rather a long wait while the umpire dealt with an appeal against the decision, the penalty was set and Garner converted from the spot to clinch a 4-3 win and the title in dramatic style, after their near misses at the National and Indoor finals.
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