Cleethorpes Town FC Owls U16 are the 2023 Lincolnshire FA County U16 Boys’ Cup Champions after an all-Grimsby final at Lincoln United’s Ashby Avenue on Wednesday night.
Simon North’s side secured the title after a 4-1 victory over Healing Hotspurs after going 1-0 down in the early stages of the hard-fought contest.
“It’s not really settled in yet! It was a really hard game against a terrific team in Healing. They definitely edged it in the first half, they played really well. Second half, I thought our boys took control of the game.”
“Two really good sides did Grimsby proud, both reaching the final of the county cup and it’s a fantastic achievement. The players really dug deep tonight.”
It was Cleethorpes who started the game the stronger of the two sides, coming close three times inside the opening minutes as Leo Hallibone’s one-on-one effort against the Healing keeper was saved, before missing the bottom left corner by inches. The Cleethorpes were almost celebrating before seeing it roll past the woodwork.
Just two minutes later, and completely against the run of play, Healing Hotspur opened the scoring as Obi Tomlinson smashes home a close-range effort straight into the roof of the net and ensured Healing had an early lead.
Healing keeper, Joe Coleman, was resilient and held strong onto Hotspurs’ advantage, despite Cleethorpes best attempts including an attempted lob that was cleared by his back line. The 20th minute saw Coleman’s first major test as Harvey Smith was bundled to the ground and referee James Day wasted no time in confidently pointing to the penalty spot.
However, William Jubber’s effort was saved as he attempted to smash his effort down the middle of the goal – only for Joe Coleman to keep it out! Jubber couldn’t connect with the rebound and Healing held onto their one goal advantage.
Cleethorpes eventually found the back of the net and it was Leo Hallibone who smashed home the equaliser on the 6-yard box after a Healing defender lost possession on the sideline before a low driven cross found the feet of Hallibone who had an empty net to score in.
The teams emerged from the changing rooms for the second half knowing the importance of the next 40 minutes and threw everything they had into the game, trying to take control of the game. However, it was Leo Hallibone who’d managed to turn around Cleethorpes’ luck after his hard and low shot went under Joe Coleman and gave Cleethorpes a 2-1 lead.
The game became intense and a real midfield battle, with big challenges being made throughout the second half. A 60th minute penalty shout from Healing Hotspur was waved away with confidence by James Day and left Healing desperately trying to find a leveller.
Leo Hallibone soon ensured there was no way back for Hotspurs as he secured his hat trick in the 73rd minute, followed by Harry North’s tap in from Hallibone’s back heel to the back post that handed Cleethorpes Town the County U16 Boys’ Cup.
Cleethorpes’ Leo Hallibone was awarded the Player of the Match, and the match was officiated by James Day, James Needham, Alistair Hayes, and Gary Caley.
Photo Credit: Ed Mayes Photography