For the purist and the neutral, this game had it all….open flowing football, chances galore and an injury time winner that broke the hearts of the brave Lions.
ln our 1st ever 1/4 final against the WMCFL most successful team, Dudley Lions proved more than a match at times for their illustrious opponents, and with cooler decision making and better finishing, might have even pulled off what some would think of a bit of a shock.
From the first whistle, the Lions were up for this and showed it with some enterprising football and keen tackling all over the park. Anyone watching a WMCFL match for the 1st time would have found it hard to believe that there was a 2 divisional gap between the teams, such was the confidence and determination of the home team not to be overawed by their 1st division opposition and it was a slightly edged 1st half in our favour that saw us come in at half time 0-0 .
The 2nd half saw us start a little bit slower and show a little bit too much respect to Clarendon allowing them plenty of time and possession and this resulted in them almost taking them lead after a bit of a mix up between the back 4 and the keeper, which allowed Clarendons forward to collect the ball, burst past the keeper, but somehow smash the ball over the bar instead of rolling it into an empty net….shades or Ronnie Rosenthal ala Aston Villa vs Liverpool!
This was the wake up call we needed, and for a while the game was pretty even which resulted in a substitution by Clarendon and it was he who scored the opening goal with his first touch with a lovely curling shot past Steve Cartwright….1-0 Clarendon. It would have been expected for heads to drop and dive in, but to their credit, the lads never gave in and continued to chase every ball down and create some half decent chances, but the efforts of a pulsating game were starting to show on a couple of the boys, so substitutions of our own followed.
lt was one of these subs, The Ginger Viking Jay Willis, who finished off a lovely move for our equaliser with a cracking right foot finish in off the post to make it 1-1, which had us all in dreamland, and with the seconds ticking away, we wasted a 4 vs 3 counter attack that could have seen us take a 2-1 lead….only for the ball to bobble horribly just as the killer pass was about to be made to Steve Devonport who would have been clean through on goal.
Then came the heart breaking injury time moment which turned out to be the last kick of the match….we were that close to forcing injury time and who knows what!! With the ball only being half cleared, the whole of the back 4, who to a man were excellent, could only watch as the Clarendon forward beat the offside trap to score in what we all obviously thought was an extremely close call, but that’s football for you…it can go your way one minute then hit you hard the next…..its why we ALL love the game!!!
Big thank you to all 3 officials who allowed the game to flow freely and we all wish Clarendon all the best for the rest of the season