Faithfold’s minor miracle
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