Howden Clough claim first trophy with penalty shoot-out win over Gomersal
Howden Clough Under-11s B team claimed the club's first trophy in four years with a penalty shoot-out win over local rivals Gomersal.
The victory, against a side two divisions above them in the league rankings, capped a fine season for Allan Moverley’s young charges.
Gomersal made the brighter start, with Oliver Auty and Seb Stuart posing questions of the Clough defensive line.
Season-best performances from both Evan Moverley and Adam Makda helped contain the early pressure.
Clough gradually crafted some attacking outlets courtesy of the ever-industrious trio of Brock Howarth, Alfie Bean and Jake Williams, but it was the runs of captain Naeem Munir and Sam Kitchen that looked the most likely source of a goal as the first period ended 0-0.
The second half saw coach Moverley introduce changes, James Marlow adding much-needed pace at the back alongside the ever-dependable Toby Kelly.
Despite the tactical switch, Gomersal broke the deadlock 13 minutes into the second half courtesy of a close-range header from Dan Fretwell. Clough had failed to deal with a pinpoint corner and paid the price for their indecision.
An equaliser looked a tall order against a well-drilled Gomersal defence until a moment of magic from leading goalscorer Sufyan Daji with 12 minutes remaining. After his corner was cleared, Daji struck a sweet half-volley from outside the area to find the top corner.
Both sides struggled to carve out meaningful opportunities in the remainder of normal time, a trend which continued into extra-time. Charlie Greaves looked increasingly influencial for Gomersal but could not unlock the Clough rearguard.
In the shoot-out, Clough netted their first four spot kicks thanks to Munir, Kitchen, Daji and Williams.
Clough goalkeeper Harry Wainwright restricted Gomersal to three from four and Marlow had a chance to seal the win but couldn’t find the net.
Wainwright then pulled off his second shoot-out save to deny Seb Stuart, sparking celebrations among Clough players and supporters.