The Hampshire Football Association's Faith Cup is something of a rarity in local football, consisting as it does, church-based teams. This final produced an exciting game. MVC play in the Southern Churches League and A, B & C St Peters in the South West Evangelistic Association Football League.
The final was held directly after a Veteran's final, being one of the great advantages of playing games on 3G pitches. Unfortunately for the church teams, they had to endure the same foul weather that the Veterans had just battled through. Their game was similar to the Veterans that as both teams were evenly matched, defences were on top and both goalkeepers were often called into action. What they did not know was that the match would also present them with two major problems.
The first half was fast and furious with MVC's 'keeper, Luke Attrill making two early saves before St Peters' man, Andrew Wade was called into action when he too made a couple difficult saves but ultimately there few other chances.
The breakthrough came right on half time when in a melee in the MVC's goalmouth, the ball spun out of control and over the line. No-one seemed to know who had scored, the St Peter's players did acclaim the goal and MVC's did not protest it. Speaking to the Referee at half-time, he informed me that he had put it down to an own goal but could not be positive - but a goal it was!
The second half started as the first with both teams seeking a goal, but again, chances were few and far between until the 12th minute when a gathering of the crowd, players and officials near the dugouts seemed to indicate some kind of upset which prompted the security guard to march round to see what was up. What had occurred was that because of the torrential rain a drain had over spilled and the water was pouring on the pitch in an ever-increasing lake. Referee Dave Green quite rightly stopped the match and consulted the Hampshire Football Association officials which resulted in the County offering to finish the match on another pitch which the clubs readily agreed. On a grass pitch the match would have been abandoned, the value of a 3G pitch became apparent and in less than a quarter of an hour the players, officials and crowd had left the stadium and the staff and volunteers had readied the adjacent pitch, switched on its lights on and off we went for the last 33 minutes – brilliant.
Again, there was deadlock until the Referee awarded a free kick to St Peter's right on the edge of the penalty box, I had already written 'penalty' on my soggy paper before realising he was right. Up stepped Ashley Booker to equalise, so perhaps he could have awarded a penalty after all!
With time ticking away and the dreaded penalty shoot-out looming, St Peters looked to have won the match deep into injury time when, through a packed penalty area, the ball was slammed at the goal and 'keeper Attrill, flat on the ground, somehow managed to scoop it off the line and clear, a miraculous save which ultimately won him the Player of the Match Award selected by the sponsor, Trophyman’s David Creedon.
Unfortunately, the ball was soon whipped back across his goal and, in a similar dive, he again managed to get his hand to the ball, but this time diverted it over the line. At this point, the floodlights went out with the goal, saving the players from the shoot out and thus ending the match.
The match was sponsored by Trophyman.
The Referee was Dave Green, his Assistants were Jaimie Gardiner and Luke Fletcher. The Fourth Official was Harry Gray.
A B & C F.C.: - Andrew Wade, Luke Savill, Allen Curtis, Andy Elliott, Martyn Wilson, James Whike, Joshua Garner, Alexander Rankin, Ashley Booker, Jack Ramsom, Kam Tinker, Andy Heustace, Christopher Ashford, John Duke and Kieran Thomas.
MVC F.C.: - Luke Attrill, Steve Cogle, Lewis Boyd, Tom Halliday, Mitch Young, Jack Cole, Tom Merriman, Mike Tapley, Andy Cook, James Weeks, Craig Buckman, Freddie Mutenure, Sean Govere, Ryan Cunningham, Ben Jenkins and Matt James