Whitefriars 3 Greenfriars 1 (Following a penalty shootout)
Warwickshire may be famous for William Shakespeare but the drama enacted at Etone on Saturday was “such stuff as dreams are made of,” and would have given the old Bard of Avon a run for his money in the dramatic stakes.
From the opening curtain to the final call, this game had everything; drama, excitement and a genuine cliffhanger ending.
With all square after 10 games the Whitefriars and the Greenfriars knew that the fate of the 100 year old trophy would be settled, either in the 80 minutes of play or through penalties.
With the sun blazing down it was agreed that the game would be played in four quarters.
The match started briskly with both teams looking for an early advantage. Both keepers were busy with James Pennington in the White’s goal denying the Green’s leading goal scorer Aamir Lockhat-Clegg an early chance, whilst the Green’s Matt Pearce was tested by Conner Jones.
The first quarter ended all square, but in the second quarter the intensity increased. The Whites really dominated the play sending wave after wave of attacks against the Greens goal. Harry Whitelegg narrowly missed an opportunity to score but the Green’s defensive line remained resolute, with young Ross Stretton making a fine contribution. When all the signs were pointing towards a White goal a shock plot twist allowed the Greens to grab the lead. A surging run from Ewan Moorcroft, Sam Cooper and Owen Denny led to a penalty corner. Lockhat-Clegg’s shot was stifled by the energetic Jamie Whittle and the loose ball was picked up by Liam Spiller who slammed the ball home from close range to give the Greens the lead.
The Whites soon rallied and pushed on with the attacking trio of Logan Veasey, Alex Harcourt and Charlie Baker forcing a series of penalty corners. Their hopes were raised when Steve Shipman found the net with a close in drive, only to be dashed as the goal was disallowed for a foot. Minutes later Shipman found the net again, but agonisingly, this too was disallowed, the shot being judged to have been taken after the whistle had blown.
The Whites came out for the 3rd quarter feeling a little aggrieved but determined to get back into the game. Again both sides attacked strongly, with Lockhat-Clegg looking dangerous despite the sterling efforts of Jamie Whittle to man mark him. With the pressure building the Whites won a penalty corner. A well worked switch from Conner Jones gave Usman Yasin the opportunity to slam the ball over the line for the equaliser.
Despite the intense heat and some tired legs, the final quarter proved to be as dramatic as the first 3. Both teams were fully committed and there were some agonisingly close moments with defenders and attackers from both sides putting their bodies on the line. But with 80 minutes played and all square, penalty shuffles were destined to be the decider.
The Whites took the first penalty with Veteran Paul Sidwell finding the net to make it 1 nil
A nail biting series of penalties followed with the Greens looking to level terms and the Whites to extended their lead. Greens’ strikers Ross Stretton, Ewan Moorcroft, Liam Spiller, Aamir Lockhat-Clegg and Lee Summers all came close with Summers forcing a penalty flick only to be denied by the athletic James Pennington. The Whites’ strikers; Usman Yasin, Alex Harcourt, Warwick Byrne and Joe Kendal also came close, but it was Conner Jones who finally sealed victory for the Whites with the coolest of strikes to beat keeper Matt Pearce.
Speaking after the game, Captains Kevin Chester and Pat Veasey praised their teams for the amazing commitment, sportsmanship and fair-play shown over the 11 games. As Pat Veasey remarked, “we may have played as two teams today, but we are ONE club and this competition has made our club stronger.” The Captains also had a special word of thanks to all of the parents, both players and spectators who have supported this competition.
The teams will meet again on Friday 28th June at Ambleside for the official presentation of the 100 year old trophy.