Dou­ble chance Brown’s boys chase cup after ti­tle tri­umph

Gloucestershire Echo - - FOOTBALL - By JON PALMER

ANDOVERSFO­RD have ap­plied for pro­mo­tion to the Glouces­ter­shire North­ern Se­nior League after win­ning the Chel­tenham League Divi­sion One ti­tle.

Man­ager Matt Brown’s team are ready to make the step up, after miss­ing out 12 months ago as they fin­ished as run­ners-up to Chel­tenham Civil Ser­vice.

“We set a goal at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son to win the league,” sec­re­tary and as­sis­tant man­ager Phil Hendy said.

“After com­ing sec­ond to a very good Civil Ser­vice side, we knew we had a good chance.

“We also re­cruited well with players com­ing in to the re­serves that were able to make the step into the first team when needed.”

Be­fore they sign off from the Chel­tenham League, they are hop­ing to lift the Se­nior Char­ity Cup, with Tewkes­bury Town their op­po­nents in Thurs­day’s fi­nal at the Jonny-rocks Sta­dium.

They were beaten on penal­ties by Minch­in­hamp­ton in the third round of the GFA Ju­nior Cup and lost out 4-2 to Bishop’s Cleeve in the Ju­nior Char­ity Cup fi­nal, but they are now hop­ing to crown a mem­o­rable cam­paign.

“Our main goal was the league and cup runs were a bonus,” Hendy said.

“Now that the league is com­pleted we want to fo­cus on the cup and go for the dou­ble.”

On the pitch, Luke Lon­er­gan is the captain, cen­tre-half and leader. Nick­named ‘Terry’ due to sim­i­lar­i­ties in his style with for­mer Chelsea and Eng­land defender John.

Mid­fielder Ryan Cleal has taken the arm­band dur­ing a pe­riod of ab­sence through in­jury for Lon­er­gan.

“Ryan could eas­ily play a higher level, but he wants to be part of bring­ing our club through,” Hendy said.

Jake Berry has stepped up from the re­serves to be­come a reg­u­lar, part­ner­ing Lon­er­gan at cen­tre-half.

Up front, Ri­ley Wood­man and Ash­ley Cleal have stepped up due to an in­jury to Sam Green and a sus­pen­sion for Son­nie Bur­rows.

“They are in friendly com­pe­ti­tion for top goalscorer but are also very un­selfish with it,” Hendy said.

Mean­while, Tewkes­bury Town have not had an easy pas­sage to the fi­nal.

They knocked Brock­worth Al­bion out in the semi-fi­nals, 4-2 on penal­ties after it fin­ished goal­less after 90 min­utes.

And that was after de­feat­ing Up­ton Town 9-8 on spot kicks in the quar­ter­fi­nals after a 1-1 draw.

They have also dis­posed of FC Lake­side Re­serves (1-0) and Malvern Vale (2-1) en route to the big day.

Man­ager James Lay­ton-hill be­lieves his mid-ta­ble side’s re­fusal to give up will stand them in good stead against the Divi­sion One cham­pi­ons.

“I am un­der no il­lu­sion that we have reached this fi­nal with some close re­sults in­clud­ing two shootouts,” he said.

“I know we will be con­sid­ered un­der­dogs but it is up to my players to em­brace that, es­pe­cially with the feel­ing of see­ing our op­po­nents win the league at our home ground a mat­ter of weeks ago, still not sit­ting com­fort­able in our stom­achs.”

Lay­ton-hill is a for­mer captain of Tewkes­bury who is near­ing the end of his first cam­paign in charge of the first team, hav­ing had his play­ing days cut short by a se­ri­ous an­kle in­jury.

He is hop­ing to cap his maiden sea­son on the touch­line with sil­ver­ware.

“Any­one who says their first sea­son in man­age­ment is easy, I would like to meet them!” he said.

“While this sea­son has been chal­leng­ing at times, I feel we have cer­tainly pro­gressed as a club.

“While our league form has been slightly un­der­whelm­ing at times it is tes­ta­ment to the grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion of my squad that they will be walk­ing out at Chel­tenham Town in a cup fi­nal.”

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