Fourth Division Champions AFC Golden Eagle got their hands on their second piece of prestigious silverware of the season tonight when they defeated a spirited Cherry Willingham in the first of the League’s Cup Finals at Sincil Bank. A healthy crowd was in attendance at the home of the National League Champions to witness an excellent game of football played in a competitive but fair spirit.
Division 3 side Cherry Willingham got the game under way kicking towards the South Park end of the ground. The early stages of the game were a little bit cagey as both teams felt their way into the game. The two teams had amassed a total of 312 League and Cup goals between them prior to the game with Cherry having scored 4 goals more than their opponents.
The first real chance of the game fell to Eagle’s Kallum O’Mellia but he shot wide from a free kick just outside the box. Harvey Melladay was the next Eagle player who looked likely to open the scoring when he was played through one on one against Cherry goalkeeper Jake Sayer. Sayer stood tall and palmed the effort away with the first of a string of class saves that thwarted the free scoring boys from the Eagle.
Golden Eagle always looked dangerous going forward, none more so that the excellent Jack Higginson who lead their forward line with pace and power. After a series of fine saves by Sawyer it was Higginson who opened the scoring for the fourth division side on 44 minutes when he had the simplest of chances tapping in from a couple of yards out after his initial effort had been blocked on the line. Although the Eagle had the greater number of chances in an exciting first half Cherry had threatened the Eagle goal sufficiently to go into the break confident that their potent strikeforce could turn the game around in their favour after the break.
AFC Golden Eagle got the second half under way attacking the South Park end of the ground and it was only a handful of minutes into the second half of the game when they had the ball in the net for a second time following a close range tap in but the Assistant Referee, Mr Posner, had spotted an offside in the build up and referee Amy Barber disallowed the effort.
There was much to admire about the play of both sides and as often happens in this particular final the overall standard of football was to be greatly admired. On 63 minutes Cherry Willingham’s Brendan Foster-Mathieson tried his luck with a 30 yard rasping drive that was splendidly saved by Chris Bennett at the expense of a corner that was well cleared when it came into the box. A couple of minutes later, and not to be outdone, Eagle’s Higginson tried his luck from fully 30 yards which saw Sawyer produce yet another outstanding save as he palmed the ball wide for a corner kick.
Despite chances at both ends, with Golden Eagle enjoying the greater total, it was the Eagle who scored their second goal of the game on 80 minutes when Kallum O’Mellia hammered a loose ball high into the net from 10 yards.
Eddie Davies then completed the scoring for The Eagle after 88 minutes when he struck a crisp low shot into the net after good work down the right hand side saw a cross find him unmarked at the far post. This proved to be the last action of the game for Davies as he limped off immediately after taking the applause for his goal.
Both sides, and the team of Match Officials, should be congratulated on producing a fine game of football which was thoroughly enjoyable for all in attendance. Sincil Bank, with its pristine pitch, was a fitting venue for a final that was a great credit to all involved.
The next final to be played is on Monday 8th May 2017 when the Kelly Read Cup Final is played at Sincil Bank between cup holders Metheringham from the Premier Division when they take on the newly crowned Division Two champions Bassingham Bugle Horn FC. This game promises to be another intriguing fixture which should be pleasing on the eye. The following evening sees AFC Golden Eagle return for more Cup Final action when they take on another Division 4 side, Birchwood United, in the final of the Fred Quibell Junior Cup.
The curtain will then fall on the season on Wednesday 10th May with the final of the Ron Eagle Challenge Cup with last years two finalists taking on each other again for the right to lift the trophy. Premier Division winners, and the current Ron Eaglen Cup holders Ivy Tavern, will be out to defeat their opponents from Ruston Sports FC but as Sports’ demonstrated by knocking Ivy Tavern out of the County Sunday Cup this season they are more than a match for anyone on their day.
Tonight saw all that was good about local League football and the three remaining finals promise to endorse that fact further.