AFC Binley Forced To Bow To Christ the King…
AFC Binley 2-3 Christ the King Reserves
(Bedworth Senior Cup Final 2018 @ The Bedworth Oval)
Christ the King… Well I knew of them because of Sean Kavanagh, now of Racing Club Warwick but there is always the thought in my mind of one particular day whilst working at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the two classes I was due to teach were coming from St John the Baptist and Christ the King schools, unbelievably. I had to work in the office in those days until a security guy rang from the schools entrance to inform me my class had arrived and so, when the call came it went like this: “Hello Pete, I’ve got Christ the King at the entrance here…” I nearly choked. And I was dressed as an ancient Egyptian scribe, too… Then, after lunch, the same droll guy rang again: “I’ve got St John the Baptist at the entrance Pete…” “Gods,” I thought, after creasing with laughter, “…it doesn’t get much better than that in one day…” I felt blessed, as Thoth-Hotep met Christ…
Anyway, the gods frowned on this cup final at the Bedworth Oval and lashed the artificial surface with windy rain but credit to the two teams, they tried to pass the ball and a glut of goal chances were created; some scored from and a number squandered. Both ‘keepers made fine saves and the crossbar saved Christ the King twice, although twice, defender Daniel Corr (was he being watched by the rest of his musical family?) made last-ditch saving tackles to prevent the Division 3 team from scoring. The Division 1 CtheK outfit had grooved into a 0-2 lead, despite Binley’s promising start, before a penalty reduced the arrears and AFC’s Fabian Spence somehow failed to score in a bizarre incident, whereby Corr threw himself about like a goalie to block goalbound shots. A third goal for CtheK, the result of a second error by the Binley custodian Ryan Oldham, who otherwise did a fine job, left AFC a couple of goals adrift at the break.
|1-0 TO CHRIST THE KING...|
Yes, they pulled a goal back after the interval but their finishing was again lacking and CtheK goalkeeper Aaron Barrell made crucial saves at the right times to keep his team ahead in what was a very watchable encounter. Christ the King, driven on by the astute Liam Duffy in midfield and the elusive James Searle alongside him, also made a few chances but the latter stages were dominated on offense by the underdogs and the favourites simply had to dig in and survive, which they did.
|WHAT WAS BEING PLAYED FOR...|
CtheK must have worried early on, for Binley’s Spence showed clever dribbling skills from the left-flank but pulled a low shot from 15 yards past the left upright. Barrell flapped at a left-wing cross too but AFC were unable to capitalise but before CtheK (sorry, gonna have to nickname them the Disciples for this report…) scored their opener, it was clear that Duffy was being allowed too much space in deep midfield and he was able to pick calm passes, being the fulcrum in the middle third. Matty Kelly shoved a pass behind his skipper, right-back Sean Taggart, but he collected the ball and delivered a deep cross towards the far stick with the elements behind it and it soared into the far corner of the net, although Oldham would surely be disappointed about the concession.
|SEAN TAGGART: GOALSCORER & SKIPPER...|
Following a caution for Binley’s left-back Dan Vincent, the resulting free-kick caused AFC a problem, for Mike Wallace and Kelly provided right-flanker Mark Owen with a sharp chance from an angle near the right byeline but Oldham did well to parry the effort away for a corner at his near post. In an even contest, a decent right-boot centre from the left by the aforementioned Owen towards the far upright led to goal two.
Two Disciples jumped with one Binley defender and it was the second of those, Callum McGinley whose header beat Oldham’s athletic (Oldham Athletic, get it..?) dive.
|MARK OWEN: SOON INJURED...|
A 27 yard drive by the dangerous McGinley flew too high, then the awkward Spence took possession again at the opposite end and just as he wriggled into the 18 yard box, his foot collided with one of Taggart’s and although the incident looked tame, the referee signalled for a penalty, which Paul Govier Jun. fired smartly into the bottom right corner of the net and Binley had a lifeline.
On the break, a fine pass by Disciple Searle sent Kelly racing through the middle but Oldham advanced to make a crucial save, before the injured Owen couldn’t continue and Craig Hatton replaced the wide man. A run to and along the left byeline by Spence offered a slim chance to Blake Kassar for AFC but under pressure, his effort flew wide. Oldham was quickly out of his 6 yard box to deny Hatton and then following a messed up fly-kick by Barrell and a deft flick by Govier, Binley right-winger Travis Smallwood fired a 19 drive against the Disciples’ crossbeam. A low Duffy shot was off target, a Wallace lob was too and then Binley missed out on two glorious chances to regain parity.
First, a fine Smallwood pass behind Disciples’ left-back Mark Fazakarley set up Blake Kassar but as Barrell rolled out to meet him, the striker’s shot was weak, yet still rolled left to Govier and it took a block by Taggart to save the situation and Govier’s lunge merely gave away a free-kick anyway. Then a remarkable incident unfolded, for another fine run by Spence into the left side of the penalty-area took him past Barrell but perhaps Spence was too relaxed, for Barrell rolled again and got a touch on the ball as the forward was about to convert the chance. Faltering, Spence saw his shot blocked by the fearless Corr and the ball ricocheted off Spence’s foot against the crossbar and Corr threw himself in front of Blake Kassar to prevent what should have been a certain equaliser. “Cor…” I thought… As you do.
A left-side corner by the Disciples slipped through Oldham’s gloves, Searle drove too high but then a couple of crosses from the right by Kelly brought the decisive third goal for the Division 1 team. The second delivery went low to Oldham but he was unable to hold onto the centre and the lurking Wallace gromitted the ball into an empty net for a predatory goal. 1-3 and near to the break too…
|RYAN OLDHAM: ELEMENTS IN HIS FACE...|
Kelly made a strong run but drove wide, Travis Smallwood hit a low shot for Barrell to collect easily, before Duffy, I think, drove well wide from 35 yards, using the elements to attempt to catch out the goalie no doubt, then Oldham made a good blocking save at his near post from McGinley’s angled effort, following a fine and incisive run by the Disciples’ forward at inside-right. Oldham dropped the subsequent flag-kick but recovered to grab the loose ball this time. The break arrived and in truth the match had been a pleasure to watch and standing with me by then were GNP Sports’ manager Sham Alam and Coventry United’s secretary Graham Wood. We watched the game with some interest…
The Disciples started the second period strongly and immediately a low drive by Searle caused Oldham some consternation but he saved well enough. (Apologies to Searle, on the video clip I thought it was Duffy’s shot…) Govier, struggling a little with pain, was replaced by Justin Lang for AFC and Govier’s little flicks would be missed, although maybe a couple of times his inventiveness had led to losses of possession. Good spot-kick though. Ant Poole replaced Taggart for the Disciples and Searle curled a saveable effort at Oldham before, at the other end, a low Smallwood effort was deflected to Barrell. Smallwood looked lively on the ball at times, although his team wasn’t finding the second period easy but soon, a second lifeline came their way.
|TAGGART IN SOME PAIN...|
The ball found its way from the right flank to Vincent, 20 yards out and he could afford to control it first, before firing a low shot which Barrell managed to get his left hand to but he was unable to prevent the ball from rolling into the net from just inside the right upright.
A low centre by the upright and tricky Poole was missed by Wallace and when Searle challenged for the ball, Oldham jumped but although his punch didn’t travel more than a few metres, his defence recovered. Blake Kassar then found himself with an opening on the right but his delivery rose over Barrell (over the barrel?) and drifted to safety, Kassar again was denied as he raced through after a low pass from a colleague, the busy but hurt Kyle Metcalfe was replaced by Binley’s Tyler Morgan, before a long shot by the substitute was pushed wide of his right stick by the heroic Barrell. Barrell then raced out to deny Kassar again but as the ball became loose, it took another monumental challenge near the right byeline by Corr to prevent the striker from converting.
Not too much offense was being seen from the stolid Disciples, who were keeping their faith and praying for the final whistle but Oldham was forced to dive left and beat away an angled drive by the nuisance substitute Poole, who harboured smart feet (Poole Harbour?) Barrell would twice collapse to the ground like a burst brown paper bag as time ran out, winning free-kicks both times, a weak and low shot by Morgan was easily saved by the ‘keeper but Barrell would have the last laugh for he made a crucial save in the final seconds to deny Lang. Andy Godfrey’s kick forward was challenged for by Spence and Lang latched onto the loose ball to fire a hard shot which Barrell dived right for, to tip it away to safety and virtually win the cup for his crew.
The end arrived in driving wind and rain, the players received their medals, which all of them deserved and the Disciples had believed and had thus achieved. Binley really ought to have troubled the scoreboard more but the contest itself had been absorbing and enjoyable. Thanks must go to both sets of players…
|CAN'T WAIT FOR THE CUP...|
|CAN'T WAIT TO GO HOME...|
Thanks must also go to Lloyd Wright of Christ the King who kindly sent me his team list for the evening which was somehow unavailable on the night. I received it this morning…
|BINLEY: CLOSE, BUT NOT CLOSE EOUGH TO THE CUP...|
|THE PLEASANT EDWIN GREAVES, SOAKED...|
Certainly the contest had been keen and in truth neither team deserved to be beaten, when one considers their efforts on the night. Cory, Duffy, Searle, Kelly and those flashes of offense by McGinley were all features for the Disciples, with left-back Mark Fazakarley always a willing support on his flank. Vincent did the same for Binley, Steven Young skippered his team calmly, Aaron Laming defended with some polish and Curtis Smallwood made sure there were two Smallwoods as well as two Kassars (Blake and Seb) on the pitch for Binley at the end. The AFC forwards could have won the game for their team but despite several threats, they came up short on the night…
|AARON BARRELL: VOTED BEST PLAYER...|
And a final word about the Birmingham school Christ the King. When the secretary rang to book a visit about ancient Egypt for the next year, her Irish voice said:
“Hello. It’s Christ the King here.”
“I didn’t know he had an Irish accent…”
And then we booked the visit to be confirmed by the teacher, also Irish who rang after school:
“Hello, this is Christ the King…”
I said I wouldn’t repeat the earlier comment I’d made to the school’s secretary. She asked what I had said and when I told her, she broke up laughing…
You can’t always get it right…
I try though…
|SMILES DESPITE THE RAIN...|
RYAN OLDHAM, ANDY GODFREY, DAN VINCENT, STEVEN YOUNG (CAPT), AARON LAMING, SEB KASSAR, TRAVIS SMALLWOOD, KYLE METCALFE, BLAKE KASSAR, FABIAN SPENCE, PAUL GOVIER JUN.
CURTIS SMALLWOOD, WILL WADDELL, TYLER MORGAN, JUSTIN LANG, TATENDA BAKO.
CHRIST THE KING RESERVES:
AARON BARRELL, SEAN TAGGART (CAPT), MARK FAZAKARLEY, DANIEL CORR, THOMAS LOWE, LIAM DUFFY, MARK OWEN, JAMES SEARLE, MIKE WALLACE, CALLUM McGINLEY, MATTY KELLY.
ANT POOLE, CRAIG HATTON, CAM INNES.