After a pulsating 90 minutes, a last gasp equaliser took the game to penalties and that meant there was an opportunity for someone to be the hero, which became true of the Codsall Legion Sundats goalkeeper.
Team Line Ups
Codsall Legion Sundats: 1 Pain, 2 C Franco, 3 Uppal, 4 Northwood, 5 Harvey ©, 6 Lloyd, 7 Wedderburn, 8 A Franco, 9 Carval, 10 Holdcroft, 11 Birch. Subs: Cunningham, Haughton, Lewis, Hyde, Cookson
Power FC: 1 James, 2 J Mcintosh, 3 Harris, 4 Taylor, 5 Coe, 6 Davis, 7 Whittingham, 8 Healy, 9 Taylor Boyce, 10 C Mcintosh, 11 Panton. Subs: Davidson, Prince, Wilson, Reid, Cleary
Both teams took to the pitch at 11am, with Sundats in their all-blue kit and Power in their pink shirts and white shorts & socks combination. The opening stages of the game were extremely quiet with most of the play being in the centre of the pitch as both sides tried to get some momentum to drive forward. It took until the 11th minute for the first chance of the game to come and it fell to Carval who tried his luck from the right corner of the box, but his shot went inches over the crossbar. A short three minutes later, Harvey flung himself in the air to attempt an audacious overhead kick, but his connection saw the ball go well over and into the protective netting at Ray Hall Lane. Sundats then had their third chance of an exciting few minutes as Carval latched onto a forward ball before laying it off to Holdcroft who had a go, but the shot went wide of the post.
Another ten minutes of quiet in the first half followed, before Harvey went into the referees book on 25’ after a foul in the centre of the pitch and the resulting free kick created Power’s first chance of the game. Carlos Mcintosh found himself in space on the edge of the box and unleashed a great strike to the left of Pain in goal who parried the effort into the path of Panton who somehow blazed over from 3 yards out. After this, the game threatened to get lively with some challenges being deemed questionable by both dugouts, but there were no chances to talk about.
The final five minutes of the first half suddenly leapt into life with Taylor Boyce finding space in the Sundats box but his shot flashed across the face of goal with no other pink shirt to be seen. Straight down the other end, Wedderburn is inches away from getting on the end of a long ball forward but James dashes out of his goal to collect the ball. On his way back to the halfway line, Wedderburn finds himself one on one with a bouncing ball over his shoulder and after a quick glance to see James miles off his line, tried his luck from 40 yards out but the ball goes well wide, just avoiding a throw in. There was still time for a few more efforts on goal with Whittingham curling a stunning effort just wide of the far post before Carval drove forward and unleashed a shot inside the box that James was equal to. On the stroke of half time, Lloyd found himself with a free header in the six-yard box but his effort went well wide and queued the whistle for half time.
The teams re-emerged for the second half and Sundats made the first change of the game with Cunningham on to replace Carval. Sundats began the second half with some meaningful presence as Harvey took just two minutes for the first effort of the half which resulted in a fantastic save by James who leapt and clawed the ball out of the top corner and for a corner. The follow up effort by Lloyd from the corner was headed just over and it was time for the two sides to have a breather again. Two stoppages in play meant the next 10 minutes were stop start, before Birch got in on the action for Sundats as he saw his shot fly comfortably over the bar.
The next 2 minutes saw some unbelievable action by Power’s goalkeeper Remi James as somehow he falls to his left and plucks the ball off the goal line and out for a corner after a flurry of chances fell to Sundats in the box. Power survived that scare and it was them with the next chance of the game as Panton found himself some space on the edge of the box but his shot flashed wide of the far post. That would be Panton’s last action of the game as he was replaced by Wilson in the 68th minute, with the score still 0-0.
Holdcroft created the next opportunity as good work by him saw a lay off to Birch whose effort was blocked and the rebound from Cunningham was comfortable for James to collect. However, it was Power who got the breakthrough as Harris had a go from range and his driven strike found the bottom corner and bounced in off the post, resulting in eruption from the Power fans over on the development side of the pitch. With just 15 minutes remaining, Billy Williams [Manager, Sundats] made an attacking change as Haughton replaced Holdcroft, with the opposition opting for a defensive change with Reid coming on for Harris in the back line.
The 5 minutes that followed were very edgy as Power were doing all they could to slow the game down and see the remaining time out and Taylor Boyce found himself on the receiving end of a yellow card in the 85th minute. Birch had a go from the resulting free kick on the edge of the box but much to his dismay, it hit the wall and was cleared from danger. That would be Birch’s final action as Lewis came on to replace him for the final few minutes as the fourth official held up the board to show five additional minutes would be played. A controversial challenge sparked a 22-man scuffle in the Power half, before Davis and Carlo Franco were both booked for their participation.
In the 91st minute, it looked as though Sundats chances were over as the ball came into the box where their two central defenders launched themselves at the ball, evading Lloyd but hitting Harvey who despairingly saw the ball go up and over the crossbar for a goal kick. You could feel the energy snapping from the Sundats dugout and around the ground as spectators began to realise maybe it just wasn’t their day. But… Power fell foul of letting their lead slip in the final minute as Haughton capitalised on an error and slotted the ball under James before being mauled by his teammates for taking the game to penalties.
The first 2022 County Cup Final to be played at this stage saw the spectators descend on the office end of the building, hoping to shout their team to victory. Up first were Sundats who scored each penalty comfortably, with some fancy spot kicks on view considering the pressure on each player stepping up. Power also scored a few great penalties, with one just narrowly squeezing in past Pain who got his hand to it, before it went to sudden death. Sundats calmly scored their 6th penalty of the shootout, which meant Power had to score to continue the battle, however, up stepped Craig Pain as the unsung hero of the day as he jumped to his right and got both hands to the next strike and then found himself at the bottom of a huge pile up from all players and coaching staff as he had secured the victory for his side.
After his team had lifted the trophy, we caught up with the manager of Sundats, Billy Williams who only had praise for Pain commending his performance and pointing out that "he's a quiet lad, but he said to me at full time that this was his time to shine, and fair play to the lad, he's come up with a great save there at the end."
The two clubs had nominated their individual worthy of the Club Volunteer award which saw Matthew Inniss and Ken Cotterill pick up the awards for Power and Codsall Legion Sundats respectively.
The man of the match aware was handed to Sundats number 11, Remi Birch.
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: