London Old Boys’ Senior Cup Final. 18.04.06
Harry Abrahams Stadium.
Wingate & Finchley F.C.
Southgate County Old Boys 2 Old Meadonians 3
Old Meadonians brought home their second trophy of the season with a cliff hanging win over Southgate County Old Boys on Tuesday evening, but not before having their pride severely dented by a feisty, cannily skilful and well focussed County side from the division below. In boxing parlance, although Meads were ahead on points for much of the game and may not have had their nose actually bloodied, it was certainly red with embarrassment as County took advantage of a couple of the five occasions when Meads’ guard was lowered to take the lead twice. This was a stodgy and slightly robotic performance from the A.F.C. champions as they displayed little of the flare shown by County’s pacy and influential striker Peter Eguae whose penetrating runs had Meads’ defence creaking ominously and experienced sweeper Dan Salanson in constant demand. Meads’ attacking formation of three up front suffered from too many cooks as out and out strikers Colin Hawkins, Ed Glover and Albert Adomah vied for a break in limited space and, for the most part, were crowded out by a packed defence. After the opening skirmishes it was Meads’ keeper Lee Coneybear who was called upon to tip over a twenty yard drive on ten minutes, as County put in a mini blitz, winning three corners in quick succession. Then Meads’ trio of strikers all had shots well saved by Rowan Early in the County net but on the half hour County took a surprise lead. Eguae’s speed enabled him to chase down a lost cause on the right and, as he closed in along the goal line, his shot come cross wrong footed Coneybear and threaded through a bewildering maze of legs into the far corner of the net. Meads retaliated with sustained pressure but were still unable to get telling shots away. They were justly rewarded five minutes from half time when Glover’s drive from fifteen yards was parried by Early and Hawkins pounced for a timely equaliser.
With the slight slope in the second half Meads besieged County more intensely, with the latter relying more and more on Eguae’s probing sallies which were increasingly lonely affairs, well policed by Meads’ rearguard. County’s main source of danger had always been from set pieces and appropriately this method upset the form book once more for them to retake the lead when Eguae’s near post run lost his marker for him to back head a forty yard free kick from close in. This was an immediate call for County to harness the crest of a wave as they quickly got Meads on the ropes. In the space of as many minutes they spurned two golden chances to put the match beyond recall. They were to rue these lapses as, with less than half an hour to go, Meads threw on pace on both flanks in the form of Dwayne Rhone and Ryan Russell. Russell in particular was soon causing chaos on the right, running his tiring marker at every opportunity and putting in some good crosses. For the next ten minutes Meads were guilty of over-eagerness in their efforts to reclaim the lead but gradually found their composure to make it more a question of when they would equalise. The break through came for Meads when Hawkins cut in from the left and delivered a perfect cross behind the defence for Russell, coming in at the far post to head in from ten yards. County were cruelly robbed of extra time with just three minutes on the clock as Meads’ skipper Jack Costello, in his first start since Christmas, blasted in a loose ball from fifteen yards.
This match was an excellent example for A.F.A. football, keenly but fairly contested by two sides both of which adhered to the A.F.A. and A.F.C. code of conduct. Both the teams have daunting run-ins in the league if they are to top their divisions and, on this showing at least, County would not weaken the A.F.C. premiership if they were promoted. Play was excellently managed by referee Ian Andrews, assistants Howard Cartz and Bob Tredgett and fourth official Russell Howe who worked well as team. The only moment of angst came when Meads were making their late push. The flying Hawkins was heavily body checked and flattened. As Hawkins naturally reacted angrily the referee’s prompt action defused the situation clinically, by quickly isolating himself and Hawkins from verbal interference, consulting his adjacent assistant and having a few calm words with Hawkins. That there was no residue of resentment following this incident was tribute to its handling by the ref. The Cup Committee are to be commended for their impeccable arrangements and as usual Wingate and Finchley were equally welcoming, engendering a good atmosphere of inter-team camaraderie with the hospitality in the bar afterwards.
Teams: Southgate: Rowan Earley, Cliff Lovett, (Ben Stones), John Hoare, John Morris, Ian Edwards, Ken Middleton (Capt.), Dave Sargeant, John Rylatt, Kieran Lowe, (Mike Bannerman), Peter Eguae, Steve Fahey, (Simon Hicks). Subs not used: Scott Halloren, Dillan Muthaiah.
Mascot: Bailey Lovett
Meads: Lee Coneybear, Brian Hanley, (Dave Butler), Dan Salanson, Alastair McCombe, Pete Lovell, (Dwayne Rhone), Jack Costello (Capt.), Alex Hugh Jones, Kevin Quinn, Albert Adomah, Ed Glover, (Ryan Russell), Colin Hawkins. Sub not used: Danny Bond.