Beacon Cat & Fiddle were crowned 2021/22 Sunday Amateur Cup champions following some late drama at the BCFA Excellence Arena.
The weather played its part in creating the ideal Cup Final setting with bright sunshine and a slight chill in the air, paired with a beautiful playing surface at Ray Hall Lane to get everyone geared up to get their hands on some silverware.
Team Line Ups
Beacon Cat & Fiddle: 1 Sinclair, 2 Allen, 3 Richardson, 7 Devlin, 8 J.Doherty, 9 Keay, 10 Brooks, 11 Chhoker, 14 Nash, 15 P.Doherty, 17 Crook. Subs: 1 D.Doherty, 3 Day, 5 Ward, 12 Preston, 13 Smith
Down Syndrome Awareness: 1 Maher, 2 Walker, 3 Weston, 4 Radford, 21 Harder Bailey, 6 Mohammed, 7 Spicer, 8 Houlihan, 9 Garmson, 10 Martin, 11 Lawrence. Subs: 12 Wemm, 13 Stevens, 14 James, 15 Lewis, 16 Brown
The early exchanges were scrappy with neither team able to take control of the Cup tie and no rhythm maintained. The first chance fell to Harry Crook of Beacon Cat & Fiddle who struck his free kick just wide of the near post 7 minutes in.
Down Syndrome Awareness then had their first couple of chances in the game with Kie Houlihan attempting to beat Luke Sinclair from distance, before Adam Garmson saw his free kick fly just inches above the crossbar.
There was a shout for a penalty for Beacon Cat & Fiddle in the 37th minute and after a slight bit of confusion, a goal kick was given after the ball was adjudged to have ran out of play.
Another chance for both sides before the break with Beacon Cat & Fiddle’s Crook’s corner met by Connor Allen’s header flying wide of the back post, just after Aaron Weston had made a break down the left for Down Syndrome Awareness and unleashed a shot from the edge of the box which was collected by Sinclair.
The second half kicked off and within 4 minutes, we had the best chance of the game so far with an effort from Houlihan bouncing back off the bar after he connected with a Down Syndrome Awareness corner.
However, the best chances of the game came just after the 50th minute mark when Beacon Cat & Fiddle somehow couldn’t find the breakthrough. Another Crook corner caused mayhem in the Down Syndrome Awareness box with a headed effort by Josh Nash cleared off the line, before a Brayden Keay shot is blocked by a defender, followed up by an Allen strike which is kept out brilliantly by Niall Maher in goal and this move finished with another headed effort by Nash which hits Craig Radford to go out for another corner.
The resulting corner, again taken by Crook, was met again by the head of Nash whose effort crashed off the bar and bounced in front of Maher who clawed the ball away from danger.
Brayden Keay, the captain of Beacon Cat & Fiddle had to be substituted with 30 minutes remaining after picking up a knock to his back which sparked a few further substitutions for both sides. Ryan Day came on to replace Keay, meanwhile Down Syndrome Awareness pair Andre James and Jordan Stevens replaced Wayne Spicer and Daniel Lawrence respectively.
Either side of the substitutions saw both sides have a chance with Crook beating his man in the penalty area but was unable to get his shot past a phenomenal save by Maher. For Down Syndrome Awareness, Garmson had found space in the box, before beating his man and striking the ball well wide.
Ajohntae Smith came on to replace Rueben Chhoker in the 67th minute and shortly after had a great chance to give Beacon Cat & Fiddle the lead but his effort, after good work by Sean Devlin down the right, went flying over the crossbar.
Neither side looked set to score in the 90 minutes of normal time, which was baffling to many of the spectators and dugouts alike with 59 goals scored between the two teams on their respective routes to the final.
There was nothing to shout about in the last 10 minutes, until the 89th minute where a Desen Martin shot was collected by Sinclair in the Beacon Cat & Fiddle goal who then released the ball up field sharpish. Sinclair’s punt was headed on by Allen and picked up by Crook on the left who turned two defenders inside out before striking on goal, and yet again seeing his effort saved by Maher. The parry wasn’t enough though and a dummy by Smith with Devlin running in from deep saw his neat effort nestle in the bottom right corner.
It wasn’t over there, with the Referee Alex Richards signalling 6 minutes of added time. Down Syndrome Awareness kept pushing for a late late equaliser but even with a 95th minute corner, they just couldn’t find the goal they needed to take the tie to penalties.
Beacon Cat & Fiddle pick up the Sunday Amateur Cup for the first time in their history with a 1-0 victory over Down Syndrome Awareness.
After the game, Chris Sinclair, manager of Beacon Cat & Fiddle was ecstatic with the victory but paid respect to the opponents saying, “it was a tough game, very tough… their goalie played very well, he was man of the match.”
“I thought we should have had a couple of penalties, but they didn’t go our way” Sinclair went on to say about the cluster of chances his side had in the 50th minute with a couple of handball shouts.
Referring to the possibility of penalties, Sinclair couldn’t believe there was only one goal in the game: “I mean with both teams scoring 59 goals between the two of us, and a last-minute goal, you couldn’t write it. I thought it was going to pens and was ready to make two substitutions for players to take penalties.”
Sinclair also had huge praise for his defensive set up expressing that he thought his back four were tremendous throughout the game.
The two clubs had nominated their individual worthy of the Club Volunteer award and John Farmer and Sally Hill picked these up for Beacon Cat & Fiddle and Down Syndrome Awareness respectively.
The man of the match award was handed to Niall Maher after a superb afternoon in between the sticks for Down Syndrome Awareness.
You can view the official photographs taken by Focus Dunn Sports Photography by clicking here.
Extended highlights of the Cup Final can be watched below: