Sunday 23rd April 2017
Jack Standen Cup
By Vince Wray
BARNESTORMER! Alex's 93rd minute header gives Sunday XI the cup!
Ex Blues had all the form going into this game having been successful in two finals last year, currently sitting top of Division 2 in the OBDSFL and only having lost one league game in the last two years. Although we are in the division above I always felt this would be an extremely stern test for my team. Our league form has been inconsistent this season to say the least, injuries and suspensions have played their part. Having said all that we felt confident that we could win.
The pitch conditions were tricky to say the least, a bumpy surface didn’t exactly make it easy to play football in a passing manner. It’s fair to say Ex Blues created at least three telling chances in the first half and we only had one shot on target from Wray. Defences seemed to be on top. Skipper Judge was his usual influential self for us, on a day where he was celebrating his 37th birthday. We just weren’t able to get our game going at all in the first period.
Having discussed some ‘home truths’ at half time with the players I was hoping for a better second half. It didn’t happen straight away – man of the match Reece Hamilton brilliantly tipped an effort over the bar and Joe Slater somehow miraculously headed a goal bound shot off the line; however, the game wore on, Ex Blues visibly tired and in the last 25 minutes of the game we started to take control. Perfitt was on for Middleton in central midfield and Barnes and Clark replaced Wray and Ennis-Webb in the attack. Ex Blues had shot their bolt, we were creating openings. The Farnborough defence appeared comfortable and had done its job. Now we had to make them pay for their missed chances from earlier on in the game.
The fourth official held up his board for four added minutes and the game seemed like it was going to go into extra time. Just when we all thought that was the case, the mercurial Alex Barnes pops up with a looping header back over the keeper’s head after a poor punch out from him and it settles into the corner of the net. Unbelievable!!! The players went into a frenzy of celebration. It was a perfect way to take victory - only a couple minutes were left and we comfortably saw out the game. Cue more celebrations. Judge lifted the cup on his birthday and I can tell you we celebrated hard and long, myself included. Make no mistake this was a fully deserved victory, we battled hard to ensure our defences were not breached and had the right players on the pitch at the right time to take advantage. Barnes has a sixth sense for pulling goals out of nowhere and it happened again here. He confided in me he’d never played in a winning final – well he has now.
From a personal viewpoint, this was a perfect end to a challenging season for all sorts of reasons. Team inconsistency and a spell of ill-health from me have all had an effect, but the guts and determination, and bravery showed by my players was beyond belief, I am so proud of these lads. Days like this are what football is all about. I hope it’s a catalyst for further honours next season.
Man of the match: Reece Hamilton