Fantastic achievement for Reserves as they win Mead Plant & Grab 1A title but heartbreak for first team as Great Shelford beat them to Kershaw Premier title
Linton Granta Football Club have experienced the highs and lows of football this season, with recent weeks delivering both title ecstasy and title woe.
The Reserves team have secured promotion to the Kershaw Senior B, after pulling off a final game victory in the Mead Plant & Grab 1A to finish out of reach of their nearest opponents.
Manager Dan Penfold said it was ‘a fantastic achievement’ earned through ‘commitment and an amazing work-rate’.
But the first team will have to line-up on Saturday in the first of their two final fixtures in the Kershaw Premier knowing they cannot catch league champions Great Shelford, despite spending most of the season at the league’s summit.
Shelford went on a 10-match winning streak at the end of the season to take advantage of a Linton wobble in form and take control of the league – the unbeaten run ensuring they did not give Linton a chance to recover.
They will host Hemingfords United on Saturday (3pm) in their penultimate match with second place the best they can now finish.
They currently lie third but will overtake Cambridge University Press if they can take three points from the six on offer.
The disappointment is a far cry from the joy among the Reserves, with the first team suffering the fate the Reserves inflicted on their divisional rivals’ Bassingbourn, who have three matches left but are 10 points adrift in second.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for the team,” Penfold said. “We were really inconsistent last season but we built on that with about seven or eight new players and the squad has come together.
“The commitment and work rate has been amazing this season, and our defence has been fantastic, despite playing a lot of the season without a goalkeeper.”
He explained an injury to Dave Vant last year had left Penfold with no choice but to select outfield players in goal for several months until the arrival of Tim Jefferies. But, having only conceded 27 goals all season, Penfold said he could not ‘be prouder’.
“Our goal difference is excellent, worthy of league champions,” he said. “And everyone has chipped in with goals, with the defenders scoring at one end while also keeping the ball out at the other end.
“We have scored more than 100 goals this season (101) – with a lot of help from top scorer James Haylock (33) – and that’s been the biggest difference between last season’s third and this season’s title. I also think we were the fittest side too, which helped.
“The performances just got better and better and the boys showed so much character.”
The Reserves played their final two fixtures against the only two sides to have inflicted defeat on them this season, Bassingbourn (2nd) and Hardwick (4th), but were able to prevent league double losses.
They beat Bassingbourn 2-1 away before a 7-2 rout at home to Hardwick.
“It definitely adds to it, to claim the title by beating the only two sides to have beaten us this season,” he said.
“We think we really earned our place in the Kershaw Senior B.”