By Sam Carman
Tension was in the air even before kick-off as Garry F.C. and F.C. Bag of Cans met properly for the first time after they finished a respected 1st and 2nd in the UH Campus football league. Having lost 5-1 due to the fact that they only had 7 players in the previous fixture, F.C. Bag of Cans were definitely prepared to take revenge on their title rivals.
Kick-off for the final of the UH campus football was set for 4 pm on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 on the “Next-Gen” pitches. With both teams arriving early before kick-off eager to get started, the mood was unquestionably set to be a match to remember. The captains of the two teams described this as being a potentially tough game due to the quality their opponents, but both still seemed quietly confident that their teams would come out on top and lift the trophy at the end of the match.
Difficult conditions for players on both sides from the wind made it tricky for the weight of pass to be judged. The first 10 minutes of the first half were certainly action-packed with challenges flying in from all angles. The first meaningful play came from Cans, who had a penalty shout turned down and rightly so by the Referee, James Cantwell. More chances followed for the Cans strikers but they could not break the deadlock with Tom King having the best opportunity, letting him drag his shot wide. Against the run of play, Garry then immediately went up the other end and scored directly from a long goal-kick, with the ball landing perfectly for their striker who surpassed the Bag of Cans goalkeeper with an excellently placed chip all of 25 yards out. Some would describe this as a “route one” goal, but they all count.
The pressure was then on Bag of Cans to ensure that they did not stray further behind, but their defensive style of play did not last long as a great long attempt at a pass from their playmaker Brad eventually to led to a goal-line clearance from a Garry defender. A flurry of chances then came for Cans once again, with their midfield-maestro, Matt, having an opportunity from a free-kick which sadly hit the wall. A mixture of intricate short passes and long throws were proving to be a problem for Garry defensively, but their defense had been solid up until this point. A deserved equaliser came for F.C. Bag of Cans after some good build-up play, and a ball is played through which hits Garry’s keeper first and deflects in straight off the F.C. Bag of Cans striker; a lucky goal, and he was certainly in the right position at the right time. However, almost immediately after this, Garry soon scored right on the stroke of half-time from their skipper, Rob, which resulted in a header being flicked in by their striker. 2-1 to Garry as the half-time whistle blows one which could have gone either way.
The second half continued as the first had ended, with Cans having the best play with their early chances, all the while Garry always loomed as a threat on the counter-attack. A solid defensive unit from Garry prevented any clear opportunities for the F.C. Bag of Cans attacking players in the first 10 minutes, but a mistake from a Garry defender resulted in lots chances for Cans players which would have brought them on terms for the second time in the match. Garry’s keeper almost put through his own net after he fumbled across to prevent a score, but nevertheless managed to recover just in time as he grabbed the ball on the line.
The last 10 minutes of the match was when it truly came to life. While Cans were pushing players forward to keep their dreams of lifting the trophy alive, Garry finally gave a meaningful counter-attack which resulted in the winger, Liam Winton, being completely wiped out in desperation by Cans player, Hasan, on the edge of the area. The subsequent free-kick was cleared just about in a goal-line scramble, with Cans defending desperately to keep the tie alive. With the advantage of having an extra man, Garry attempted to push forward, but this saw them concede an equaliser up the other end when the 10 men of Cans countered their attack.
With spirits evidently high among Bag of Cans players, they did the impossible and scored the winner straight after. A long ball over the top found Cans striker, Brad, who volleyed it in from close range, and making it 3-2; leading to scenes of jubilation from all his team as they celebrated being in front for the first time. One last throw of the dice from Garry resulted in nothing as they looked more shocked than anything that they had let the 10 men of Cans turn the match around.
A great game for anyone watching, as it truly could have gone either way. F.C Bag of Cans achieved the payback they wanted from the previous fixture in an epic encounter between two teams who both played to an extremely high standard, with the final a great advert for the UH Campus football league.
Captain of the victors, F.C. Bag of Cans’ Jonathan Moore, commented after: “First half we weren’t up for it as much. But, it was an unbelievable match and it was definitely in the spirit of F.C. Bag of Cans to come through with a win like that.”
A game which was fiercely contested from the first whistle to last, one which could have gone either way, and a great showcase event end to the season on a high.