SportsReach Champions Cup & League Cup final round up
Last Tuesday and Thursday we had our League Cup and Champions Cup finals. Great Ecc, having won the Champions Cup and League cup in the last two years were looking to make it three in a row with victory against Lancaster, whilst they were looking to avenge their defeat last year to Great Ecc in the Champions Cup final. Meanwhile, there was a repeat of the first round tie of Wray facing Accrington.
Eccy complete triple triumph
Great Ecc 4 – 1 Lancaster
Sharples 30, 50, Clark 39, Moat 60 // Luczynski 84
Richard Sutton shared the pre-match word and began by giving thanks to both teams’ attitudes on the run up to the final. Richard then challenged us all to look beyond the pitch, to get to know Jesus and ask Him in to our lives “…the world is full of sin, evil and without hope. But Jesus died for us and ultimately gave us a choice. We can choose to turn to Christ, invite Him in to our lives or we can choose not to. We can choose Heaven or we can face Hell”. Despite the discussion around the Brazilian, it was definitely not Kaka.
The game kicked off and both teams were clearly eager to stamp their authority on the game. Both teams battled hard to get a foot hold with Lancaster looking to play the ball through to Michael White and Great Ecc looking to push the ball down the channels. Great Ecc soon found their feet and were getting more and more joy down the right channel as balls were fed for Right winger Jonny Leech to latch onto. A lovely flighted ball was met by Captain Simon Greenhalgh, whose header went back across the goal only for no one to attack it at the back post. The next real chance fell to Jack Sharples who thought he had given Great Ecc the lead after a great through ball from Dennis Pulford, saw Jack race clear and cooly slot the ball past the keeper, only to be ruled offside. That was a real let off for Lancaster, but Great Ecc were relentless in their pursuit of an opening goal, and in the 31st min they got their just reward. Another lovely flighted free kick from right back Adam Moat was met by an unmarked Simon Greenhalgh at the back post, who headed it back across goal for an easy tap in for Jack Sharples! On 40mins, Great Ecc doubled their lead with undoubtedly the goal of the night. A deft flick from Jack Sharples released Ben Clark down the left channel. He surged through and before Lancaster player manager Dan Sudell could get across from centre back, Clacky unleashed a rocket of a shot from the edge of the area that flew into the top left hand corner, leaving the sprawling keeper no chance!
Making some changes at the back, Lancaster put an extra man into midfield to try and get a foothold in the game. Gt. Ecc kept up the pressure and the high tempo and it wasn’t long in to the second half when Gt. Ecc got their third. A near post delivery from a corner from Adam Moat, saw Jack Sharples lunge at the near post to flick the ball home inside the front post. 10 Minutes later it was 4-0 with a well taken free kick – 35 yards out, Adam Moat hit the ball into the top corner, just out of the Lancaster keepers reach. Leading from the back, the Lancaster defence tried to rally the players. Again, the battle took place in the midfield with both teams trying to break through. Gt. Ecc continued to try to push it down the wings but the Lancaster back three played the ball well and won some great, strong, tackles. Lancaster meanwhile tried to push forward when possible, eager to get some form of consolation. After 10 minutes of pressure, the breakthrough came. A ball in to the box found the head of Adam ‘Smithy’ Luczynski on the 85th minute to make it 1-4. With that the final goal, the game was played through in the same fashion until the final whistle.
Man of the match: Si Greenhalgh
Hardworking Accrington stun Wray in final
Accrington 3 – 2 Wray
Addison 16, Schofield 18, 40// Fawcett 36, Whitaker 53
To start there was a challenge from minister David Earnshaw about how ‘once you cross the line you can never go back’ regarding the decision about accepting Jesus as our saviour in this life, the players were also keen on making sure that once the whistle went in this game they had no regrets about the decisions they made on the pitch and the commitment they showed in the 90 minutes.
Saint John’s started the game confidently with Schofield and Riley causing numerous problems down the wings in the early exchanges. Wray were clearly a good footballing team spear-headed by manager Mark Ellershaw in the centre of midfield and the powerful Jake Fawcett, who has previously appeared for Saint John’s back in 2015 in the All Day Tournament, up front. Richardson and Reynolds were winning the early exchanges in midfield which meant Rob Addison was free to concentrate on attacking the back line of Wray, alongside Pountain, and their dominance was to pay off as early as the fifteenth minute. Rob Addison received the ball from a Schofield pass in the area, turned the centre back brilliantly before slotting the ball into the bottom corner. The relief was palpable and with Saint John’s now enjoying a confident spell of possession the crowd did not have to wait long for another goal and what a goal! Jake Schofield received the ball out on the right wing, took on three defenders before curling the ball into the top corner from outside the area! 2-0! Saint Johns FC continued to attack knowing the next goal could be crucial. However after all this positive attacking play, Fawcett who was a threat all night, did manage to reduce the deficit with a great run and finish to the bottom corner on 30 minutes. 2-1! Saint John’s though, being encouraged by the faithful fans, continued to press the Wray backline and found a way through once again when Pountain wriggled free down the left and put a hopeful ball into the box which Schofield managed to get to and shot powerfully at goal only for a deflection off a Wray defender which made it impossible for Wray keeper Hutchinson to get to and made the score 3-1! Schofield’s ninth goal in seven appearances this season.
At half-time Saint John’s knew that Wray FC would come at them in the second half. Rob Addison was also struggling to breath after he was battling through the first half with a chest infection. Not wanting to make any changes too early Pountain stuck loyally with the same eleven. From the outset Wray came out with the intention of attacking Saint Johns to try and get an early goal to drag themselves back into the game. Ellershaw would have been pleased with the early pressure in the second half. On 55 minutes Di Francesco replaced Addison whose performance was nothing short of incredible especially in light of his ill health. Wray scored a second on 60 minutes when the impressive George Whitaker got the ball down the left wing and fired a cross come shot into the top corner. 3-2! With Saint Johns FC now facing a barrage of attacks from Wray they suffered two further blows when Pountain and Baron, both 35 years old and both suffering from cramp, had to be replaced. Pountain rather than bolster the defence with a defensive substitution brought both strikers Mensah and Shaw onto the pitch to try and hold up the play in Wray’s half. Whilst Wray, now playing some good, attacking football, kept pushing the defensive line-up of Haworth, Lawson, Schofield who was now winning everything in the air and on the ground at centre-back, and Mulhall these lads were repelling everything that Wray were throwing at them. Reynolds and Richardson were now camped in the defensive third and battling brilliantly. Time after time the team put their bodies on the line and defended with everything they had. For all Wray’s possession though they were not allowed many shots on target. Ellershaw did see a long range effort hit the bar on 80 minutes. The atmosphere within the ground was electric. Shaw and Mensah both held the ball up well and won the headers when needed. It was a brilliant effort by the whole squad and when the final whistle blew the team were delighted to be able to hold aloft the SportsReach Champions Cup.
Man of the match: Liam Reynolds