Following a season of uncertainty where for long periods it didn’t seem as if we would get to play much/ football at all, it was to, great relief that in early April teams from the Shoestrings-Chargrill – Chippenham Sunday League were given the green light to return to action.
Unable to complete the league fixtures, The Committee set about completing both the Knockout Cup & WG Parr Trophy competitions which they did last weekend, with AFC Melksham and Lavis FC tasting success in the respective competitions.
The Committee also introduced a third competition, the Gooding Accounts – sponsored Subsidiary Cup which reached its climax on Sunday morning as Andy Anderson’s First Division underdogs Beeches FC and red hot favourites, top flight FC Pilot who with Graham Griffiths in charge met at New Road, Bromham to bring the curtain down on the 55th season of the Sunday league.
Talk ahead of the game was how many Pilot would win by, rather than who would win and after the top flight hot shots had taken a 2-0 interval lead, it was starting to look as if Beeches would be in for a second half mauling. However that wasn’t the case as the underdogs turned the game on its head as they took a 3-2 lead before Pilot levelled things up to take the game to extra time where 4 goals in what was a pulsating contest saw Pilot lift the Subsidiary Cup courtesy of a 7-3 extra time success.
Pilot started the game well and only a great tackle from Beeches Ollie Howe denied Stuart Barber an early opener. Pilot were defiantly in the ascendancy and it was no surprise when they broke the deadlock on 12 minutes, the ball falling kindly to Rhys Talmash who thumped the ball home from 16 yards out for 1-0.
Beeches were not overawed and had chances of their own with Steve Ball being denied an equaliser by keeper Dave Butler. Ball went close for a second time as did Jono Hogarth. Those missed chance were to prove costly as Pilot upped their game and only another excellent block by Howe prevented Talmash from adding his second, and he was unable to turn home the follow up which was brilliantly kept out by keeper Ben Cooper.
Pilot who were wasteful in front of goal finally doubled their advantage when Tom Blackman was on hand to turn the ball home and make it 2-0 following an error by keeper Cooper. Talmash was causing the Beeches defence no end of problems as was Gary Higdon, but luckily for Beeches both were having an off day compared to their usual high standards and instead of going in at the break 4 or 5 up they only led 2-0.
With their backs to the wall and with nothing to lose, Beeches came out a different side in the second half, which was just 2 minutes old when they were awarded a penalty, up stepped Steve Ball and despite keeper Dave Butler getting his finger tips to the ball he was beaten by the power and the underdogs were back in the contest.
Three minutes later parity was restored, Steve Ball pouncing on an error before driving the equaliser beyond a despairing Butler and turn the game on its head.
The action switched quickly to the other end, and Tom Blackman flashed a shot inches wide of the mark, but Luke Turvey thought he had regained the lead for Pilot, only for keeper Cooper to somehow to kept the ball out, despite many people thinking it had actually cross the white wash.
Worse was to come for Pilot, who from being in total control at the break found themselves 3-2 down as under pressure from Tom Davis, the unfortunate Ethan Cox lopped a header over a helpless Dave Butler and this was after both Jono Hogarth and Steve Ball went close to putting Andy Anderson’s team in front.
Now with the lead, Beeches had to concentrate of keeping it, but on 67 minute a rash challenge in defence saw Rhys Talmash upended and after winning the spot Talmash calmly tucked the ball beyond Copper to level things up at 3-apiece.
Both side saw chances come and go in the final 10 minutes as they searched for a winner, Pilot’s Gary Higdon was twice denied by keeper Cooper and James Sandiford blasted over from close range, while Mikki Harrison recovered well to deny Jono Hogarth what would have been a late winner for the Beeches.
Having got themselves back in the final, Beeches tired badly in extra time with Pilot showing their greater quality, especially Rhys Talmash who after Higdon had headed over a great chance for the favourites showed his strike partner how it was done, Talmash got his team back in front with a clinical close range finish. Pilot extended their lead when the unfortunate Ollie Howe scored a bizarre own-goal and if the game wasn’t over at 5-3 it was when Rhys Talmash finished well to claim his fourth of the morning to make it 6-3.
Beeches were unable to stage a second half fight back as they had done in normal time and with almost the last kick of the game, Rhys Talmash fired home his fifth and Pilot’s seventh of what was an incredible Cup final that the favourites won 7-3, but onlyt after being given an almighty scare by their Division one opponents.
Under Covid19 rules the winning players picked up their individual awards and Pilot captain Ian Dowell was on hand to lift the cup. The player of the match gong went to Rhys Talmash.
As of last weekend’s two cup finals, both teams played the game in another excellent sporting manner, which was well officiated by Dominic Mortimer and his team of Alistair Brewer, Hayden Hubbard and Neil Hawker who all had an excellent game.