Gloucester City Development Squad v Binfield – Chairman’s Cup Final, report courtesy of Warren Evans.\r\n\r\n\r\nGloucester City Development Squad finished off their second campaign together with a Cup Final success on penalties, City having won Division 2 West played Eastern Division champions Binfield at Carterton Towns excellent ground.\r\n\r\nCity were at full strength for the first time in a number of weeks and decided to give Paul Fayhe his first start in over two months on the left flank to give balance to the side with Brett James on the right. Alex Goode was passed fit too, this all set City up to take on a well organised and strong Binfield side whose league form was very similar to that of themselves.The game was played on an excellent surface and the heavy rainy conditions only added to the fervent excitable feel of the contest throughout the night.\r\n\r\nBinfield started the game much the stronger and their physical advantage over the City side was evident, they forced City into a 20 minute opening spell of almost non stop defending and consequent giving away of possession due to hurried clearances under intense pressure,through this period though Goode in goal was not called upon to make any save of note,and slowly City weathered the Binfield storm, that said Binfield took a deserved lead after 30 minutes when a fine cross from the right was headed home at the back post giving neither Tom Kaye nor Goode a chance of defending it.\r\nCity continued to battle their way into the game without showing any of the skill or guile that has been their hallmark all season, in fact it was a long punt upfield that found striker Andy Varnam in the Binfield penalty area that led to the equaliser, with plenty still to do Varnam skilfully steered the ball back across the goalkeeper to slide into the corner of the net with great panache.\r\nThe whole City side rejoiced with the scorer and it was a well deserved goal for the striker who has carried the physical burden all season for the young City side well. Binfield rallied and again continued to look the more threatening side up to the half time whistle.\r\n\r\nhalf time :  City 1 – 1 Binfield\r\n\r\nWith the half time team talks completed and a fresh 45 minute to play City began the second half much brighter and visibly attempted to keep the ball and play their football from the back through to the midfield, this balanced the game out and a real contest was beginning to take shape, this edge was blunted on the hour mark when Varnam was dismissed for a second yellow card , leaving City to play with ten men.\r\nNot happy to sacrifice attack, the City management decided to play 3-4-2, this helped to retain possession and not to sink deep into their own half, Joe Parker who had been quiet began to take the game to Binfield and was enjoying the added responsibility of leading the line. This said the whole City side rose to the new challenge of playing a man down, Binfield made great efforts to break down the staunch defence and City broke on numerous counter attacks and the Binfield keeper was the busier of the two goalies in the second half. City had blown up a storm in a frenetic 45 minutes and gone toe to toe with the opposition, sadly when the referee blew for the end of 90 minutes another storm blew , the thunder and lightening which accompanied torrential rain was sufficient for the referee to delay extra time for 20 minutes, much to the chagrin of both teams.\r\n\r\nfull time : City 1 – 1 Binfield\r\n\r\nExtra time proved to be even more enthralling than the original ninety, a clearly tiring City side that now had Brett James up front with Parker and Price and Kavanagh on for the exhausted Fayhe and Tracey were not content with merely hanging on , they went full steam ahead to win this game, both James and Parker saw great saves from fizzing shots deny them, Binfield of course had the upper hand and heroic performances from all the City players continued to deny them.The second period of extra time saw for the first time City sit deeper in their own half as tiredness began to wilt them, Beaton who had refused to leave the field for treatment after a bruising challenge just before the end of the first period toiled on manfully, his experience rubbed off on his younger fellow defenders with Tom Kaye and Kieran Mace showing great maturity and bravery to withold further attacks, City though were led magnificently by their skipper Matt Liddiard who continued to drive forward and track back with a power that brought a shiver to the spine, he was an inspiration throughout the entire final,with penalties looming Binfield threw everything at City and in the dying minutes only a last gasp header from Tom Kaye and right at the very death a lunging block from Kavanagh who threw himself at the ball saved the day. \r\nThe referee blew the final whistle and two exhausted sides set themselves up for the penalties roulette wheel to decide an eventual winner of a fantastic Cup Final.\r\n\r\nWith the rain teeming down and lightening flashing in the distance five brave men from each side stepped up to the hangmans noose….. Kavanagh and Kaye scored the first two penalties and were matched by Binfield too,James slotted home the third and when Binfield were off target City then had the edge, Parker neatly made it four out of four for City leaving Binfield needing to score to keep the final alive, Alex Goode then entered the party with a superb full stretch save to his right to win the shoot out and the Trophy for City  .\r\n\r\nThe expected mass pile up ensued and City players rejoiced in their victory, the rain continued to beat down on them but they were oblivious to the elements, the scenes of joy were only temporarily put on hold to applaud wonderful opponents and Runners Up and to then finally watch Skipper Liddiard triumphantly raise the Torphy above his head, this Cup Final was a real spectacle and both clubs have plenty to be proud of from their teams, as for City they have now won a double and will look forward to next seasons challenges, if this young team can stay together and grow as a group they may enjoy more days as these . Exciting times indeed.\r\n\r\nGloucester City :  Goode, Kaye, Prictor, Mace, Beaton, Tracey ( Price ), James, Liddiard (c), Varnam, Parker, Fayhe ( Kavanagh ) s.n.u Minnett, Turl\r\n

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