Kings Langley School have been crowned English Schools Association 5-a-side champions of the Eastern region – handing them a spot at the National Finals in Derby.
The Year 7 boys did their school proud at the University of East Anglia in the Eastern regional finals and will be hoping to continue their fine form at the nationals at the start of March.
The team started the regional finals brightly with a comfortable 4-0 victory against Pakefield High School from Suffolk. The goals were spread around the team and the boys played confidently.
Two more easy wins followed, against Dr Challoner’s from Amersham and Horringer Court from Suffolk – the team were yet to concede a goal in three matches and the boys knew they were in with a chance of winning.
They then beat Robert Bloomfield from Bedford 4-2, with Matheos Maneli scoring two late goals to secure the win.
KLS qualified for the semi-final as group winners and were drawn against St Joan of Arc Catholic School, where a change of kit and a convincing display saw them through to the final against Margaret Beaufort School.
The final started poorly and the KLS boys looked a little nervous. A goal settled the nerves but was quickly followed up by an equaliser, and then another goal for Margaret Beaufort.
A George Langston volley equalised the match with less than four minutes to play, but disaster struck again when KLS conceded a sloppy goal from a free-kick.
The KLS boys were 3-2 down with less than a minute to play and it seemed they were about to throw all their hard work away, but Maneli struck to level the scores,
Extra-time beckoned and, after a quick team-talk, the boys refocused and were ready for a last push.
A few strong tackles and some excellent blocks prevented clear chances for Margaret Beaufort, and allowed KLS to score the winner with just one minute left as Max Lacey was in the right space at the right time to poke the ball home.
The full KLS squad was: Leo Smith, Kian O’Reilly, George Langston, Matheos Maneli, Max Lacey, Ollie Duce, Alfie Williams and Alfie Sturman.