Ross Under 17 footballers have had an encouraging half season in the Tudors Building Supplies 18/19 League.
Coaches Mark and Tony Fletcher have been working with many of the lads in this team for nearly a decade, bringing the group from U8s through U15s, to two seasons of U17 football. The strategy is to use 2018/19 to learn and grow, playing against some teams where the majority of the opposition could be a year older, a year stronger and a year more “street wise”. This will hopefully reap reward in the 19/20 season.
Ross started the season well in September, putting in a strong performance on the sloping pitch at Ledbury, leading twice before running out of steam to go down 3-2.
Captain Joe Thomas started the campaign well, scoring in that opening local derby and, as usual, is easily Ross’ top scorer so far.
Three home games followed which gave Ross much optimism for the new league; recording wins against Bartestree’s more experienced team, and then completing a 5-4 victory in the cup against Shobden, in a game where both sets of defence initially stayed at home conceding five goals in the first twenty minutes. Ross’ resistance was tested by the League favorites for most of the following game; Westfields coming from behind to win 2-1. Centre halves Tom Hassan and Jonno Wright helped defend the onslaught well, unfortunately in vain.
In November, Ross were the wrong side, and then the right side, of two 4-1 away wins, going down to the perennially strong Ludlow, before putting in a convincing performance against Bartestree’s Colts. Even keeper Ethan Lerego - only beaten by a late penalty - was impressed.
Max Jennings and Fin Fletcher have been making more of an impact in the middle third of the pitch, alongside the industry of Adam Davies and the physicality of newcomer Alfie Robinson.
In December, various postponements meant consecutive league games against old rivals Lads Club. By this time, Finn Mudie-Jones from last season’s U17 team had signed up, adding his strength and quality to the mid-field. Seb Lawson had also returned to partner Thomas up front, making an immediate impact by terrorizing the Lads Club defence and converting two goals in a first half where Ross played their finest football yet, deservedly finishing 3-1 winners. Lads Club plotted their revenge, however, under leaden skies before the Christmas break. Lawson opened the scoring again, but despite determined Ross performances from wide men Olly Lloyd and Ben Fletcher, Lads club equalised. As the rain came down, a late Lads Club free kick was floated in, missing everyone to go passed the unfortunate Lerego to give Lads Club a 2-1 victory.
On Sunday 6th January, Ross welcomed back Ledbury to see how much they had improved since September. After going one-nil down early on - from the visitors first visit to Ross territory - Seb Lawson found the net five times with assists from Davies & Thomas, before Jeremy Dijkens’ cross was helped into the goal by the hapless keeper. Fin Mudie-Jones’ long distance effort was always going into the top corner, and Jennings struck to make eight goals for Ross. Notable performances also came from TJ Swallow returning to Ross from playing in Hereford, and from Alex Bailey on the left wing.
Mark Fletcher was delighted to see his team up to sixth in the table of ten, having games in hand over all the others. With a semi final place in the HFA Cup to come, there are many reasons to be enthusiastic about the next four months of football.
Many thanks go to Tracey Lloyd who sponsors the team's kit through Total Living Care.