Faith­fold’s mi­nor mir­a­cle

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY RICHARD JAYE

JC BGT Third di­vi­sion Faith­fold C up­set JC Barry Gold­stein Tro­phy favourites South­gate Har­men B by win­ning the cup af­ter a nail-bit­ing penalty shooutout at Win­gate & Finch­ley on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Player-man­ager David Gar­son praised the hero­ics of man-of-the­match, goal­keeper Richard Kirby, to bring home the for­mer Mi­nor Cup. Kirby made two top-class saves in the clos­ing stages of nor­mal time to send the tie into ex­tra time. He then saved one of the Har­men penal­ties to give Faith­fold the ad­van­tage.

Gar­son said: “It is a cruel way to win but we were con­fi­dent and, thank­fully luck was on our side. We set­tled first and held our own, but all credit to Har­men who re­ally bat­tled well.”

As­sis­tant-man­ager Jonny Mack said: “Credit has to go to the play­ers who have worked hard all sea­son and they fully de­serve it.”

In a tense first half, it was Faith­fold who dom­i­nated the early stages with wingers Joe Levi and Scott Ack­er­man test­ing Har­men’s full backs, Ash­ley Burns and Marc Co­hen.

Har­men cre­ated a cou­ple of open­ings; Si­mon Gold hit the first wide, then brother, Paul, had a glo­ri­ous chance to give Har­men the lead but clean through, his shot was saved by the out­stand­ing Kirby.

The sec­ond half was a bet­ter spec­ta­cle with chances fall­ing to both teams. Faith­fold’s first real chance came fol­low­ing good work by Ben Si­mons down the left flank. His telling cross was wor­thy of bet­ter re­ward but no-one was at hand to meet it.

The game came to life af­ter 68 min­utes. Levi com­pleted a fab­u­lous solo run by shrug­ging off the at­ten­tions of Mark Drei­fuss to neatly slot home past El­liott Gor­don.

Har­men threw cau­tion to the wind and put Faith­fold un­der im­mense pres­sure. Af­ter a pow­er­ful surge, Si­mon Lun­ness was stopped in his tracks by a per­fectly timed tackle from the in­spi­ra­tional Danny Joseph.

The equaliser ar­rived on 78 min­utes when a mix-up in the Faith­fold defence left Grant Tay­lor free to poke home from close range.

The strike had clearly lifted Har­men, and had it not been for the hero­ics of Kirby, they would have nicked the tie in 90 min­utes.

As is so of­ten the case in Win­gate fi­nals, nei­ther side re­ally cre­ated any chances in the first pe­riod. Play­ers from both teams were struck down with cramp which was slow­ing the game down.

Both sides seemed con­tent to settle for penal­ties and af­ter 120 min­utes, ref­eree Teddy Lit­tner blew the whis­tle and penal­ties awaited.

Hav­ing won their quar­ter-fi­nal and semi-fi­nal on penal­ties, many be­lieved that Har­men would have the up­per hand, but things did not go to plan.

The first four at­tempts were neatly slot­ted home. Then stepped up Har­men’s Grant Tay­lor who missed. Jonny Mack con­verted his to give Faith­fold the ad­van­tage.

The pres­sure was now on Har­men’s Adam Rosen­feld whose weak kick was eas­ily gath­ered by Kirby. Grant Ben­jamin then rose to the oc­ca­sion, smash­ing home the penalty off the un­der­side of the bar to clinch the game.

Fi­nal whis­tle: Grant Ben­jamin leads the Faith­fold cel­e­bra­tions and South­gate’s James Nay­lor ( be­low) goes in hard on Joe Levi

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