After playing 10 games in the Europa Cup Group A Division and finishing top with 25pts one further game stood between the boys and the Trophy they fully deserved. Our final opponents, and last years winners were Altrincham Lions who we had played twice in the Group games, drawing 2-2 and losing 2-1. The setting was perfect, Trafford FC had done a fabulous job and although the pitch was smaller than we are used to the boys were eager and determined to win what their performances over the season warranted. After being paraded before a large crowd by walking out behind the officials from the dressing room the boys were ready for action.
We told the boys that Altrincham would come out quickly and we would need to start brightly and win our individual battles all over the pitch. From the first whistle we were absolutely brilliant !! The first 15-20mins was as good as we have played all season, the three boys at the back, Daniel, Thomas M and Thomas Dy, were in total control of anything launched long by the Lions, Nathan, Ryan and Thomas H, completely dominated midfield, winning tackles, passing with confidencxe and composure and supporting both defence and attack were needed, and Flynn was a constant threat with his movement and wonderful touch. Altrincham just couldnt live with us. We could have scored in the first minute when after a lovely move Nathan's effort was cleared off the line ! We did take the lead on 5mins when from a beautifully delivered dead ball by Thomas H, Ryan attacked the ball and met hit with a bullet header that gave their keeper no chance. Our boys now had one hand on the Cup and they were not in the mood to let go. We had a couple of chances before we increased our lead inside 10mins when again a wonderful cross from Thomas H caused chaos in their box and our ace goal poacher Flynn was on hand to score a tap in. At 2-0 up and with our defensive record it was going to be a tall order for Altrincham to wrestle the Cup out of our boys grasp. We continued to dominate and at times their frustrations became apparent, however, our boys attitude and concentration was excellent and the referee did a wonderful job to keep on top of any unsaviour challenges. Flynn, Nathan, Thomas H all had opportunities to increase our lead but some excellent goalkeeping meant we finished the half 2-0 up.
We told the boys that they had been brilliant but Lions are a good side and we are only halfway to reaching our goal. The three boys at the back were told that they held the key in the second half and to stay strong, positive and focussed. We made a couple of changes and encouraged all the boys to continue with the high press and work as a team to close down spaces.
As expected Lions came out fighting and changed their system, they needed a goal, so had gone a little gung-ho with only one at the back. This played into our hands when we showed enough composure and made good decisions from wide areas. Thomas Da who replaced Flynn up front worked his socks off and had a couple of chances which could easily have extended our lead. Max who had come on for Nathan had a couple of shots from distance which just went wide and an effort that was well saved by their keeper from a well worked free kick. Altrincham had a spell after 40mins were they had strikes from distance that hit the crossbar twice, sometimes you need a bit of luck and it was for us this day. In open play they didnt cause us too many problems with the defence staying strong and the midfield three screening them superbly. Their main attackuing threat came from long throws and corners which we dealt with fantastically through Thomas Dy, Thomas M and Daniel. Try as they might the Lions couldnt get that elusive goal which would have given us a nervy last 10mins and in fact we should have put the cherry on the icing on top of the cake when after a fabulous move Ryan released our captain Thomas H in the inside right channel with only the keeper to beat and it would have been fitting for the skipper to finish the job, unfortunately it wasnt to be as he smashed it over the bar and we had to settle for a wonderful 2-0 victory !!!! The jubilation on the boys faces at the end of the game was wonderful to see. The Lions were magnanamous in defeat and all the boys shook hands and congratulated each other as they were all winners to get to the final...
As a Management Team we have been so proud of the boys throughout the season and their performance and victory in the Final was justification of what had gone before.
All the boys played superbly, winning their individual battles all over the park then as a team playing with spirit, desire, togetherness, composure and quality.
For his outstanding performance and domination of central midfield plus scoring the opening goal Lions Management Team awarded Ryan the Man of the Match.
All that was left now was for the captain Thomas H to lead his team up to receive the Cup and individual momentos as CHAMPIONS OF SOUTH MANCHESTER !!!!!!