CELEBRATIONS were in full swing for Studley United last Thursday evening following their 4-2 victory over Badsey Rangers Reserves in the Stratford Football Alliance Hospital Cup final.
United had gone into the final at Stratford Town FC in good heart following a 4-1 win against the same opposition in a recent Aquaid Division One clash, but they did not have things all their own way in the final initially, as manager Chris Dipple explained.
“We had a strange pre-season with several players picking up knocks, so for the final we changed formation to 4-5-1 with our little Suarez – Dominic McElroy – up front on his own.
“This wasn’t working as we were 1-0 down after ten minutes. We pushed captain Dave Phelan up alongside Dom and that allowed us to press them higher up the pitch.”
Midway through the first half Studley drew level when a free kick sweetly delivered by the left foot of Andy Langman found Mitchell Sutor inside the Badsey box and he headed home past the sprawling keeper.
Soon afterwards a ball over the top from Kieran Madden found the energetic McElroy one-on-one with the keeper and it looked a certain penalty as he was brought down by the keeper, but nothing was given.
The game then turned in Badsey’s favour as a free kick was delivered inside the area and Danny Romero was just beaten to the ball in the jump by the Badsey striker who nodded his side into a 2-1 lead.
Studley never gave up and just before half time were awarded a penalty. Joe Frampton crossed the ball for McElroy to head back across to Romero, who saw his header pushed out by the keeper but, as Sutor was about to connect, he felt the boot of a Badsey defender in his face and the spot kick was awarded.
Dave Phelan stepped up and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner to haul United level again.
Fresh legs were introduced by Dipple at half time as Dylan Nolan replaced the injured George Adams and Callum Amos came on for Adam Reeves, who was also injured.
Studley were the dominant side in the second half and with 15 minutes remaining they took the lead as another sweet left-footed delivery from Langman found Phelan ten yards from goal and his bullet header nestled into the bottom corner.
With five minutes to go the outcome was put beyond doubt when the returning Dan Gaffney slotted the ball past the Rangers keeper after seeing his initial shot parried.
United keeper Oli Major-Mackay said: “This is my first ever cup final win. The boss has told us what we need to do to improve and we’re taking it on board and things are getting better.”
Captain Phelan added: “We are still a young team. We have several injuries at the moment so players such as Callum Amos and Dylan Nolan are having to play in unfamiliar roles at times but the team motto is ‘Keep the Faith’ and the boys are starting to gel and become a great team.”
Manager Dipple would like to thank Stride Supplies for sponsoring the kit, the Shakespeare Inn in Studley for its hospitality, Johnsons Coahes for the transport and Stratford Town FC for hosting the final.