Saunders inspires Chatteris Town to extra-time derby win over Whittlesey United
Cliff Bullen Challenge Cup: Whittlesey United 0 Chatteris Town 2 (AET)
TEENAGER Jack Saunders came off the bench to inspire Chatteris Town to a 2-0 extra-time victory over fierce local rivals Whittlesey United.
The 17 year-old scored the Lilies’ second goal to settle a feisty local derby, which had finished as a 0-0 stalemate after normal time.
Chatteris finally broke the deadlock ten minutes into extra time when Richard Allen nodded home, leaving Saunders to cap off the win with a stunning left-footed strike.
Lilies’ boss Jimmy Unwin said he was delighted with his team, who progress to the next round of the Cliff Bullen Challenge Cup.
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“I’m glad that we stood up to them more than anything,” he said. “We were prepared to get kicked off the park today to be honest because they’re a physical side.
“When you come to places like this you’ve got to keep your head and I thought we did well to stay focused on the game.
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“We did have that bit more quality and we did have better legs - our fitness got us through it.
“We’re a young side and it is a learning curve for a lot of them but I believe these boys can win the league.”
In a game where clear-cut chances were rare, Chatteris missed the best one of the match inside the first minute.
The golden opportunity fell to striker James Harness who failed to connect with a tantalising cross-goal pass.
Both teams struggled to assert themselves in a scrappy first half, with the biggest threat coming from Chatteris full-back Jon Brierley who put in an energetic performance.
And the frustration continued in the second period, with tempers beginning to flare all over the pitch.
Three Whittlesey players were booked as the referee tried to stamp some authority on what was quickly becoming a bad-tempered derby.
And it wasn’t until after the final whistle that Chatteris managed to find some much-needed inspiration.
Substitute Saunders was involved with a flowing move down the right, which was finished by Allen’s powerful header.
A shell-shocked Whittlesey struggled to find any reply and they were killed off five minutes from the end of extra-time.
Saunders capitalised on good work from Brierley to produce the one real moment of quality in the match - cutting inside to smash his left-foot shot into the top corner.
Unwin was full of praise for the teenager’s impact on the game. He said: “He’s a good prospect. We had him on the bench to rest him today because he’s been playing so much football. He’s a hell of a talent.”
Chatteris will now begin preparations for an away trip to Hardwick, in the Kershaw Premier League next Saturday.