A fortunate coin toss in the PE Department office of Wellingborough School meant King’s Ely had to make the two-and-a-half hour journey to Radley to play the semi-final of the LB Cup on Tuesday afternoon. Both sides had won their quarterfinal matches by the same 3-1 margin; Ely, however, were unbeaten in seven and came highly fancied.
As always, AJK and his team prepared the Bigside surface to perfection and the stage was set for a thrilling match. The opening exchanges were a cagey affair, as both teams tried to probe and find weaknesses in each other’s formations and tactics. However, it was Ely who started to dominate the first half and took the lead with a high press and a quick counter-attack that gave their striker a one on one opportunity with George Greville-Williams in goal. He calmly slotted home: 1-0 to the visitors. King’s Ely added another shortly afterwards from a superbly taken free kick and went into half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Ely continued to pass the ball around nicely with precision and skill, but Radley came out in the second half with much more energy and endeavour than before, perhaps a result of some Fergie-style hairdryer treatment at half-time from LPN and CASJ!
Then came the game’s defining moment, which completely shifted the momentum back in Radley’s favour. After a good attack down the wing from Henry Anderson, the ball was loose in the box in a dangerous position and a Radley player managed to get a shot away. In desperation, an Ely defender handled the ball near the goalmouth and Radley were awarded a penalty. Tom Eden stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner under some pressure (see clip 1).
With 10 minutes remaining and the Radley Red Army growing in numbers on the side-line the semi-final had suddenly come alive. The support certainly drove the team on to find an equaliser and it duly came in the form of a Tom Carter header from a corner kick. Out of nowhere, the game was suddenly tied with three minutes remaining and extra-time seemed the likely outcome. However, if there was going to be a winning goal, it was only going to come from one side. Ely were shell-shocked by the equaliser and Radley were in the ascendancy.
In one of the most dramatic endings to a cup tie in living memory, Benedict Weldon hit a speculative shot from distance on the volley and the ball found the back of the net: a wonder strike which sent the assembled Red Army, spectating Dons and parents wild. In the space of ten minutes, Radley had scored three goals and completed one of the great comebacks in recent history and the perfect way to march into the Final as defending Champions. The Final will be against either Oundle or Oakham who play tomorrow and a date and venue will be confirmed next week.
Master ic Football