Aylesbury Flooring – 3
Birstall Stamford – 1
Whilst the romance of the FA Cup may be diminishing in the professional game the Sunday equivalent is very much alive & kicking to those who play in it as witnessed last weekend at the ABAX Stadium, home of League One side Peterborough United. The aim for Aylesbury Flooring in their final season as a club was to win this national competition, which considering no previous team from the town had ever achieved made it a tall order, but this team made of players from various local clubs from steps four down to seven lifted that cup after a journey that will long live in the memory. Their route to glory saw them have to postpone one round when the pitch they were using at Winslow United was mysteriously vandalised the night before the game, dug up beyond belief with the goals and nets pulled down, a trip to Wolverhampton where they were seemingly heading out at two-nil down to force extra time & going on to win, a quarter-final where they were three-one down but again dug in to cap a remarkable comeback, a semi-final where crowd trouble brought the game to an early end as supporters of their opponents attacked the away end, onto a final where destiny surely had their name etched on that gleaming silverware on the FA podium?
The walk from the dressing room to the pitch
Of course it wouldn’t be that Flooring easy, a goal down with less than quarter of an hour left to play had most of the purple & white clad spectators in the stand wondering if this was the end of the road, but if all those previous gut wrenching, heart stopping, hair raising, spine tingling moments weren’t enough George Tomlin’s men went and did it again, a late equaliser followed by a red card & then a penalty turned the tie on its head, as the Aylesbury hordes dreamt of another late night in the Buckinghamshire Yeoman a late third sealed the game which saw lots of hugging, screaming and plenty of drum banging induced singing. This is one cup campaign that will long live in the memory!
It took until the eighth minute for a chance to materialise when Dan Parsons robbed the Birstall full back Reif Armstrong inside his own half to thread a pass through for Ty Deacon to latch onto & advance into the box, his effort angled across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far upright ahead of Mitchell Collins collecting out on the left to warm the hands of keeper Elliott Shilliam from distance. Ollie Hogg tried to curl around the shot stopper from the eighteen yard line forcing the save, Lynton Goss swung the resulting corner in where at the back post Jordan Jenkins climbed highest to head over the top, landing awkwardly he then went down and after a few moments of treatment was forced off being replaced by Neil Roberts.
After the initial quarter of an hour pressure from the team in red, Stamford began to assert themselves and stemmed the flow of attacks, Ryan Seal explored the right wing before slipping a clever pass inside to Paul Pallett who went for the inside of the back stick from the angle forcing Sam Page to slide in and clear although he was fouled in the process and a cross cum shot from full back Jack Lane almost caught Flooring keeper Liam Smith out, having to back pedal rather quickly the ball landed on top of the net. Dave Brown fired into the waiting gloves of Shilliam from twenty yards, Collins cut in from the flank to drag wide from the penalty arc, at the other end a big chance fell to Seal when a deflection saw him in front of goal but he smashed over the bar.
However just as the half hour mark loomed the front man made amends when a clever pass from Reece Morris slotted between three defenders leading to a low drive across the face from the corner of the six yard box into the far bottom corner. Somewhat stunned by the opener Aylesbury had a couple of chances to level before the break, a free kick from Goss was half cleared out to Deacon who smashed towards the target but a deflection took it out for a corner, a Roberts set piece then saw Deacon cushion down to Ryan Freshwater but off balance he could only pull wide. H/T: 0-1
The side in blue should have doubled their advantage within seconds of the restart as Pallett got down the wing and fizzed across the box but no one was anywhere near forward enough to get the vital touch and it simply drifted away to safety, Lane then dinked a perfectly weighted pass over the Flooring defence into the six-yard area where Adam Parry threw himself at the ball but was just inches short of connecting. As the half wore on it became a battle of midfield with neither side really creating any clear cut chances, but then with a quarter of an hour left it all turned on it’s head as Stamford wasted a chance to kill the game off, and within three minutes the scores were level.
Seal drove at the Aylesbury backline and put a pass through for Pallett to latch onto and as a defender slipped over he faced the whole target but lashed wide, that miss punished as moments later a corner at the opposite end was cleared as far as Collins who fired through a crowded penalty area, a deflection took it onto Shilliams left hand post with the ball rebounding across the goal line where Deacon was first to reach and poke home to spark delirium both on & off the pitch. With the leveller came a huge change in the mood of the game, as so many times in previous rounds Flooring tails were now up and could sense blood!
A delicate chip over the blue backline saw Alex Kedzierski unmarked take a touch to control before a Birstall defender slid in to block, but then the Leicestershire side had another two good opportunities to restore their lead when Pallett powered across the penalty area with three defenders on his tail who eventually stopped his run by clearing for a corner, with four minutes remaining a ball into the box from their right eluded Freshwater leaving the same striker with a one on one with Smith who made himself as big as he could and from point blank got something on the shot to deflect away for another set piece.
Whilst the Flooring supporters stood applauding their keeper the corner swung in saw a goal mouth melee where several blocks and challenges eventually saw the ball cleared long downfield for Parsons to chase after, as he neared the box a challenge from behind brought him down and for Lane it was his second yellow and the end of his cup final. As the decibels increased once more at that end the free kick looped off a defender into Shilliams hands, as he went to clear he kicked out at Lynton Goss who was in his way which the linesman saw, called the referee over and after a quick chat pointed to the penalty spot.
After the protests died down Ryan Freshwater put the spot kick away with sixty seconds remaining, however from the restart it was announced an additional eight minutes were to be played but that was all immaterial just three of those later when Ty Deacon escaped down the right wing and slipped a pass in behind the centre half for Lynton Goss to advance into the area, round the advancing keeper and slot home from a tight angle to complete the turn around. As the celebrations in the stand began there was still time for a Taylor Collins effort to loop up off a defender and land on top of the netting, the final whistle sounding to end not only a memorable cup final but also a memorable cup run. F/T: 3-1
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