The day has finally come! After months of grueling regular-season competition and a thrilling three-week playoff, Hurst City FC and Bedford United are set to play for the league championship on April 7, 2021.
Hurst City are no strangers to the Final, having won four of the last five titles without ever missing the match. They're in position to repeat as champions this year, facing a team they've beaten twice in 2021.
The Broncos, however, have reason for confidence in spite of their record. Their Round 2 loss to Hurst was much more competitive than the season opener and could have ended a competitive 1-0 if not for a last-minute mistake. Peter Sebastian's boys are the undisputed underdogs coming into the championship game. But they're one disciplined performance away from proving all the doubters wrong.
Here's how the matchup breaks down…
|Hurst City FC||The Edge||Bedford United|
|Strikers||Hurst didn't pack the prolific offense that usually defines them this season, but the Raiders more than made up for a dip in tallies by consistently finding them when needed. Bringing in a Golden Boot contender doesn't hurt.||Bedford has some respectable attacking talent and a real knack for netting last-minute goals. They've won most games by a single timely strike this year, which makes their unit less intimidating but just as exciting as that of their opponent.|
|Midfield||Hurst soccer has a specific style, and that style revolves around dominating the midfield with crisp passing and intense defensive pressure. This year's squad is more reliant on the long ball than usual, but they still know how to place a killer through-ball.||Talent spreads equally through the Bedford roster, and they've got a set of midfielders who know how to boss the ball and make unexpected plays. They'll need to bring their best game to compete with Hurst, but if they do this will be quite a match.|
|Defense||Usually, Hurst plays most of a match in front of the opponent's goal. That leaves their backline untested coming into a big match, and potentially vulnerable to overconfidence.||Bedford has been a tough nut to crack all year, albeit one prone to splitting wide open once exposed. The Broncos thrive on staying in the game by stifling opponents and generally succeed. If they hold for the first 15 minutes, expect a tight match.|
|Goalkeeping||The man between the pipes at Hurst is capable, but inexperienced. Don't expect any howlers here, but keep a wary eye out for one or two defining moments.||Bedford have themselves a three-year veteran who split the Best XI ballot right down the middle this year. Watch for some impressive reflex saves and a booming punt.|
|Intangibles||Coach Adam Bean has been here before, and most of his players have, too. They've got a slight tactical edge, a wealth of talent, and reason to be confident. More importantly, they've been humbled in the last few weeks and won't underestimate their foes.||The good news for the Broncos? They have nothing to lose. The bad news? Lots of pressure on this Golden Generation to make the most of their first ever appearance in a Champions Cup Match.|
But in the end, these are just words on a screen. The only way to know who deserves the Champions Cup for sure is to play two 30-minute halves in front of a cheering crowd at Pennington Field.
See you there, starting at 5:30 pm.