LAMBTON Street YC Under-18s are celebrating a season to remember – after being crowned Durham County Youth League champions in dramatic fashion and reaching two cup finals.
The Sunderland side managed 22 wins and three draws in their 28 league matches to take the title of the league once known as the Hetton Youth League by two points from Seaham Red Star and Whickham.
Lambton Street produced an incredible run to land the championship, too.
When Red Star finished their campaign, Lambton had seven games still to play and were 17 points adrift.
Yet the young Wearsiders came up trumps in a hectic run-in, winning six of the seven games, drawing the other, and shrugging off the disappointment of a thrilling Durham County Youth Cup final in the middle of their busy programme.
The run-in kicked off with a 6-1 defeat of Willington, with Connor Lowes firing a hat-trick, before Sam Robinson’s double, plus efforts from Corey Steel and Callum Challinor, saw off Wallsend 4-1.
An outstanding team performance, inspured by Anthony Chapman’s clinical hat-trick, steered Lambton Street home 8-0 against Redheugh to move within three wins of the title.
Lambton, though, endured a crushing blow with their 3-2 county cup final loss to Prudhoe, who bagged an 87th-minute winner.
The Wearsiders, though, regrouped after the disappointment and came through a nerve-jangling trip to Darlington, who led 1-0 and rallied to 3-3 before being outgunned 5-3 as Adam Frame (2), Robinson, Steel and Challinor struck, while Shay Adamson brilliantly saved a penalty at 3-3.
Lambton edged within three points of the title by winning 4-1 at Newcastle Benfield, with Jonathan Phoenix (2), Lowes and Frame netting, then a hard-fought 1-1 draw at New Hartley, courtesy of Steel’s goal, ensured that a last-day victory would clinch the championship.
Lambton Street had the perfect start away to Prudhoe, with Frame on target in the first minute, and they eased home 5-2, as Phoenix (2), Robinson and Charlie Lynn struck, to seal the club’s second title in three seasons.
Chris Lindstedt’s lads suffered an end-of-season blow with a 2-0 defeat to old adversaries New Hartley in the John Maley League Cup final, perhaps a game too far.
Lambton Street have also enjoyed representative success, with 10 players on Durham County duty this season, with Jimmy Appleby skippering the county to another Northern Counties Championship triumph, sealed by a 2-0 victory over Cumberland with goals from Chapman and Lowes.
Boss Lindstedt said: “Despite the cup final defeats, it has been a fantastic season and the squad has performed excellently to win a very tough league.
“I have been extremely proud of each and every one of the players and their achievements as they have been a great set of lads to work with and I am sure that they will all go on to have successful careers in senior football.”
“I inherited a lot of these players from Neil Johnson at Redby FC and would like to thank him for all the work he put in over the years with a number of these lads as he ensured that Lambton Street received a set of lads with a winning mentality and this has helped us to make this season’s success possible but the main credit lies with the players who have worked so hard and who have been a credit to themselves and the football club.”