A STING IN CUP FINAL TALE; St Andrew's Edge Battling G Hudson to N Win the Academy Challen Nge Trophy

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Byline: PHIL READE

ST ANDREW'S . 2 HUDSON......... 1 ST ANDREW'S STINGERS' under-9s team battled their way through the rain and back from the brink of defeat to claim the Alice Petricca Academy Challenge Cup with a narrow 2-1 triumph over Hudson Adlam.

Captain Alex Moffitt, whose key strike 10 minutes from time sent the Stingers' supporters into raptures, held the cup aloft, grinning from ear to ear, as the battling boys of Hudson Adlam were consoled on the pitch behind.

Hudson had proved formidable opposition, taking the game to St Andrew's right until the final seconds of the contest - played at St Gregory's RC School in Lydiate - when Aaron Spence's dipping effort rebounded off the crossbar.

They had netted 23 times in their previous three encounters, en route to this fixture and eight minutes into the final they broke the deadlock against a St Andrew's defence that had been breached just twice in this year's competition.

Hudson's Jack Metcalf proved a handful throughout the opening exchanges in Saturday morning's entertaining final. He led the line, bustling into defenders and hounding them with his pace.

And so there was little surprise that it was Metcalf who converted from close range, after St Andrew's defence failed to clear the threat from a corner, to put Hudson ahead.

Liam Radcliffe spearheaded Hudson's attempts to double their advantage; he was everywhere and at the heart of each move.

One minute he was picking himself out of the mud following another plucky challenge, the next galloping forward through the centre of the pitch and smashing a shot towards the Stingers' goal.

St Andrew's, it must be said, had not been outplayed.

ofMmt Fred Ralph demonstrated flashes f quality down the right channel, Moffitt made his presence felt in the middle and aside from a single blip, he defence was organised and irm.

h fi i th co in th f Fifteen minutes into the final hey equalised from a well-worked orner. Sean Fallon delivered an nch-perfect cross into the heart of he penalty area where Matthew honh TThomas rose to nod past Howlett.

wmal th or mlh Throughout the second-half there was little to separate the sides; in the middle, possession exchanged lmost frantically as the ferocity of he challenges intensified - no space r time was allowed on the ball. If anything, Hudson appeared to be creating more chances and drew several heroic saves from opposition keeper Ethan Heron.

One notable stop occurred when Metcalf was played in on goal, Heron made two valiant blocks before smothering the ball at the feet of the attacker. …