The first of the four Divisional Cup Finals was played this evening between 3A Champions Gardeners Arms FC and fellow Division 3A side AFC Dunes.
In Round 1 the Gardeners beat 3B’s Phoenix Old Town Hall FC 6-1. This was followed up in Round 2 by a resounding 14-0 win over bottom club TSC FC also of 3B. In the Quarter Finals it was the turn of a Division 3 team in the shape of Pump & Truncheon Celtic FC to get beaten, a 3-1 victory was the result. The semi final at Commonedge saw the Gardeners go through to their first ever Alliance Cup final after a convincing 5-1 victory over the Royal Oxford FC.
AFC Dunes started with a tough fixture against Blackpool Rangers and went through 1-0 with an injury time winner at Blackpool Road, St Annes. Another difficult game followed in Round 2 as they had to overcome 3A side Mere Park FC 4-1. It didn’t get any easier in the last eight when they were pulled out against eventual runners up Foulds Metals FC. A trip to Broadwaters saw them come away with a famous 2-1 victory. On to the semi finals at Commonedge where it took extra time to see off the talented Mythop Leisure of Division 3B with a final scoreline of 3-1.Back in August the Gardeners won the first league match between the pair 4-0. Earlier this month the Gardeners did the double over the Dunes with a 2-0 win.
So, on recent form and based on the league matches between the two the Gardeners were strong pre-match favourites. However, AFC Dunes have had the more difficult journey to the final and some may say that the fighting spirit shown in those bouts of extra time might have meant that their name was on the Cup.
Tonight’s officials. Ricky parr (Left), John Hornsby (Ref) and Kelvin Dyson.
Gardeners Arms FC
If the Dunes were worrying about not being able to score against the Dardeners in the two league meetings it wasn’t for too long as they went ahead in only the second minute. A well weighted pass broke the Gardeners’ offside trap. Steven Hugo took the ball on into the box and unselfishly squared it for Matt Hindle to bury it at the far post. 0-1.
Six minutes later and the scores were level. A long kick by keper Morrell was headed on by Smithurst for Jack Sharples to run on to. He rounded the keeper, kept his cool and slotted it home. 1-1.
For the remainder of the first half the teams were evenly matched mainly cancelling each other out in midfield. Defences were on top. Just before the break we had the first moment of real controversy. After the ball went out for an injury the Dunes were expecting the ball to be played back to them but a communication breakdown resulted in the Gardeners keeing it. With the Dunes defence unsettled a cross into the box was met by a Gardeners player who’s shot had to be well saved by Morrell. The rebound was fired back in but hit a post and the ball was eventually cleared away to safety.
Half time score : Gardeners Arms FC 1 – 1 AFC Dunes
The Gardeners had the first real chance of the second half when a header just flew over the bar. On 58 minutes and slightly against the run of play the Dunes went ahead for the second time in the match. The ball fell for Matt Hindle at the far post and he hit a stunning left foot shot that fizzed across Morrell into the far corner. Class finish – best goal of the game.
Hindle celebrates his second of the night.
The Gardeners Arms bench 2-1 down.
After going ahead the Dunes played their best football of the game having good spells of possession in the opposition half. A lob over the advancing Morell just bounced wide.
On seventy minutes after a good passing move the Gardeners equalised. A close range shot was well parried by the Dunes keeper bu danger man Pickering was lurking to tap it home from six yards out.
AFC Dunes Supremo Danny Hugo throws the ball back in.
After the equaliser the Gardeners were back on top. From a corner a shot came in which was brilliantly tipped over by the Dunes keeper in the picture below.
On 83 minutes the Gardeners went deservedly ahead. Another route one effort via Morrell was allowed to bounce. Pickering got on the end of it and cleverly played in Lee Tobin who dinked it over the head of the advancing keeper into the top corner. Cool finish and Gardeners in the lead for the first time. 3-2
Cramp sets in.
I thought that would have been it but the Dunes proved me wrong as they went in search of an equaliser. They were rewarded on 87 minutes when Andy Emery pounced on a loose ball in the box and played it over Morrell into the far corner. Good spirit from the Dunes.
With the crowd sensing the final whistle and settling back for extra time the Gardeners broke forward. The outstanding Dunes centre half Raybould missed his only tackle of the game as the quick footed Sharples flicked it past him. Sharples cross found Riding who’s first time effirt was cruelly deflected off a defender into the bottom corner. The keeper had no chance. Wild scenes as the Gardeners celebrated. 4-3.
Five shots of the winning goal as it happened.
Get in there !
Seconds later and the whistle went. It was all over.
Final score : Gardeners Arms FC 4 – 3 AFC Dunes
After a quiet first half the game came alive in the second period with five more goals. Underdogs the Dunes did themselves proud tonight going ahead in the game twice as well as bravely coming back from the dead at 3-2 down. Notable performances from Raybould, Hindle and Hugo S. The keeper also made some good blocks especially the one he tipped over the bar. It takes two sides to make a good final and AFC Dunes certainly played their part.
It’s a league and Cup double for the Gardeners Arms FC. They were certainly made to work hard for their victory tonight but to give them credit they carried on playing their football and showed good spirit themselves to come back from behind on two occassions. Smithurst’s aerial ability was a key factor in the win as he won a lot of ball for Pickering and Tobin to feed off. Congratulations to the Gardeners who overall deserved to win but the last minute OG was tough on AFC Dunes and they at least deserved a period of extra time.
If the other finals are all as good as this we have a lot to look forward to.
AFC Dunes captain Matt Raybould collects his medal from t’ committee.
As does manager Danny Hugo.
Will Riding lifts the Cup for the jubilant Gardeners Arms FC
Division 3 Cup winners 2005/06 – Gardeners Arms FC