PORTLAND United Youth Sports Under-15s surpassed all expectations with a magnificent victory in the Pitchero Aces Nationals at Nottingham.

After negotiating eight games, the islanders defeated Leeds 3-0 in the final to earn the crown of English champions.

For the competition, recognised as the premier grass roots football championship in England, only teams who have won their respective age group, league, county or league cup are invited.

The format of the competition saw 38 teams split into groups for the first phase with two from each group progressing to the knockout stages. Games were 11-a-side, 10 minutes per half.

First up were a team from West London who were very strong, skilful and passed quickly. After going a goal down, Portland found their feet and composure to see themselves home with a 2-1 win.

A wobble in game two saw a decent Derby side defeat Portland 1-0 against the run of play before a battling 1-0 win against Waterlooville and a 1-1 draw with Aylesbury.

Although a draw from the last game against Sunderland might have been sufficient to qualify, Portland won the game 2-0 to win the group and reach the last 16.

Sheffield were the opponents in the last 16 game, a big physical side, but not big enough to intimidate Sports. After an attritional battle where scoring opportunities were at a premium, it ended in a 0-0 draw.

At 3-3 in the shoot-out, the Sports keeper got down to beat away the fourth Sheffield spot-kick, followed by the conversion of Portland’s next penalty and the team were through to the

last eight.

Reading were next, another free flowing side who moved the ball around exceptionally well. After nicking a goal to go 1-0 up, Portland demonstrated game management skills beyond their years to get over the line and advanced to the semi-final.

A physical Milton Keynes side were the islanders’ opponents in the last four, which saw MK have and allegedly resorted to tactics that relied on bullying and intimidation rather than footballing ability. After allegedly attempting to kick, shove, punch and foul their way to the final which included having a player sent off in the final seconds of the game.

The 10 men were undone as Sports kept their composure for a 3-0 victory.

After eight games, Leeds were their final opponents.

Following the rigours of a brutal semi-final the standard of football took centre stage.

Both teams played the game brilliantly, with flair, commitment and ability showing through in spades from both sides. By now though, the superior fitness of the Sports players was telling as they outlasted their opponents in a high quality affair that resulted in a 3-0 victory plus the coveted trophy for Portland.

n Sports would like to thank the following sponsors: Real World Services, Dorset Embroidery and Portland Skips for their continued support. Also, Max Gilmartin from 3d Health & Fitness Wey Valley for the weekly 'Strength & Conditioning' session support. In addition, thanks to the coaches for their time and effort, players and families for their commitment and support and the teams supporters in the local community, without this community effort none of this would have been possible.


t: 01305 830990

e: neil.walton


twitter: @EchoSportNeil