Legends live up to their name to take the League Title!!
Coign Legends 5 - 1 Wheatsheaf
On Saturday, the Legends took to the field in their last game of the season, knowing that only a win against local rivals, Wheatsheaf, would be enough to secure the league’s top spot. To add spice to the event, Wheatsheaf knew that a win against us and then a win in their upcoming last game (against the bottom team, Stonechurch) would mean that they would be champions. In any event, a draw would not be good enough as it would mean that Sunninghill, the leagues new boys, would take the title at their first attempt. It was no surprise therefore that with all to play for, both teams had full squads.
Before the game, we tried to concentrate on our individual and team ability and the fact that at our best, we are a match for anybody, but that we needed to be calm in our approach to the game. A warm afternoon meant that we would need to make full use of the ‘roll on/roll off subs system to give players a breather from time to time.
From the off, the game was little ‘hit and miss’ with both teams seeming to feel the pressure of the occasion, the ball going back and forth with neither team really taking control. However, on 24 minutes, a ball straight down the middle of the pitch seemed to bisect our defence and the Wheatsheaf centre forward ran on to it to slot the ball home to put us 1-0 down. Due to recent performances in the cup competition, the casual onlooker might be forgiven for thinking that the team might now capitulate. NOT THE CASE!! The goal seemed to cause us to find the determination and all round team play that had been a hallmark of our performances earlier in the season. On a wide pitch, we started to get the ball out to the wings to take the fullbacks on and it had to be just a matter of time before we drew level. Sure enough, on 40 minutes, Neil Bantel latched onto a cross and, just as he was about to shoot, was brought down in the penalty area and Andy Carroll stepped up to fire home the resulting spot kick. Just 3 minutes later, a dazzling run and display from Alberto resulted in a pass to Neil, who in turn fed the ball to Ian Crocker on the right wing. Ian sent over a delicious cross for Mark (Keano) Healy who leapt like a salmon to head home a glorious finish.
Taking a 2-1 lead right on half-time was superb and the mood was buoyant during the break. We determined to keep at it and improve on what we’d got, noticing in particular that our opponents were tiring quite quickly. The encouragement was to take individual players on and go past them with the ball as they’d begun to stop chasing back. Sure enough, with just 4 minutes of the second-half gone, a tremendous goal kick from our keeper, Vass (who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!) was instantly controlled by Mark Healy, who turned and with pin point accuracy, sent on a slide rule pass for the goal machine that is Andy Carroll to run on to and score his second and our 3rd, nutmegging the keeper on the way! Sadly, this was to be the last action for Andy, who then came off with an injury. This gave a chance for the ever youthful Mark Jolliffe to make a welcome return to the team following an horrendous achilles injury. Now it has been noticed that, from a distance, Mark bares a passing resemblance to the illusionist, David Blaine. In any event, what happened next was truly magical! Another terrific goal kick from Vass found its way to Mark, who controlled the ball, turned and fired home with his first touches of the game. Welcome back!!
Now we were completely in charge and mounted attack after attack. Even when Wheatsheaf broke forward, our defence held strong and Vass was only called on to pull off one ‘hollywood’ save!
With 15 minutes to go, another terrific pass down our left found the ever running Nnamdi. Keeping the ball under control to allow support to get to him, Nnamdi bamboozled the defender before finding a neat pass to Mark Healy. Mark turned and fired a shot across the goal; which rebounded to a grateful Neil Bantel to finish from close range. The game finished with a 5-1 win for the Legends and with it came the league championship.
It’s been a while since we’ve won this and it’s a deserved outcome. No team has won more games than us, and we’ve lost less than everyone else as well. We’ve scored more and let the fewest in. I for one, can’t wait for next season!!