LB Cup Final Highlights
It was 7:00 pm on Monday, March 14th. The two teams made their ways out onto the pitch at the ASM Stadium in Thame for the LB Cup Final. The 50 or so travelling fans were in good song as the players left the tunnel. Radley were dressed in their traditional red and Haberdashers in dark blue. The referee called the captains in and the toss was done. Radley would have the kick-off and would be facing into the wind.
Haberdashers started well, winning two early corners and applying pressure; however, the Radley defence dealt with it well, including some great defensive headers from James Sloan. Soon after, Radley caught Haberdashers quickly on the break: a well-weighted ball from Jack Elvin down the line was latched onto by Charlie Le Grice, who whipped in a ball to the unmarked Alex Bruce in the box, who buried it into the bottom corner after six minutes to open the scoring. This increased his goal-scoring tally to 14 in 12 matches.
Minutes after, Bruce jumped on a miscommunication from a defensive free kick. He beat his man up the line before pushing his shot agonisingly wide of the far post. Radley produced chance after chance in the early stages of the match, due to the constant harrying of the defenders by Elvin, Bruce and Le Grice, who never allowed them to settle on the ball.
Radley looked in control throughout the first half, mostly due to the calm heads of their two centre midfielders. Tom Oliver and Tom Eden, who pulled the strings in the centre of midfield and found pockets of space. This allowed others to make runs around them and caused further problems for the defence. Another chance came moments later after a long throw from the right side was not dealt with and it fell to Charlie Williams whose powerful shot required a great save from the opposition keeper.
Radley throughout the first half looked defensively sound and relatively untested. This was due to a strong back four performance, with Max Davis playing a key role at Right Back. Haberdashers didn’t really test the Radley goal in the first half and the keeper, Toby Orders, capably dealt with any dangerous moments. HT 1-0 Radley.
Haberdashers started the second half brightly, but the early pressure was soaked up well. The second half was a relatively quiet affair with half-chances falling to both sides, but neither being able to convert. In the early stages of the half, the brightest chance for the opposition was from an attacking free kick, which was collected well by Orders. However, a late free-kick just outside of the box proved to be costly for Radley, after the free-kick ricocheted off the wall and beat the wrong-footed keeper. Ed Agnew deserves a special mention in the second half for his skilful defence against a very difficult winger, whom he kept quiet for most of the game. The full ninety couldn’t separate the two teams and this meant that the game was to go into extra time.
During the first half of extra time, the Radley box was peppered with crosses from a Haberdashers team that had suddenly found their confidence. Haberdashers really grew into the game and with seconds left in the first half won a penalty, which was coolly slotted by their number 7.
The Second half of added time showed Radley really pushing on for an equaliser and the Haberdashers defence doing everything they could to stop a Radley goal. However, an equaliser did come after a lovely corner from Charlie Le Grice, was met by the opposition keeper whose weak punch fell to Tom Binks. His shot hit the bar, but the rebound was gratefully tucked home by the captain Tom Oliver to make it 2-2. The game opened up as both teams pushed for the decisive goal. In the end, no one could find it and a penalty shoot-out was required.
Haberdashers went first and scored into the bottom left. Le Grice bravely stepped up first for Radley and rifled his shot into the top right. Elvin stepped up next for Radley after the Haberdashers player scored, and he made it 2-2 with a perfectly-executed driven shot into the bottom left. The next penalty from the Haberdashers men was stopped by a wonderful save from Orders low down to his left. Bruce eagerly smashed home his penalty to make it 3-2. Next Williams and his opposite man both scored, as did the next Haberdashers penalty-taker. This brought the final match-winning penalty onto the shoulders of Centre Back James Sloan. Sloan stepped up and fooled the keeper into an incorrect dive giving Radley the 5-4 victory, which was met with raucous celebrations from the fans and players alike.
A great team performance from the boys and a well-deserved victory. A special mention should be added to the great fans from Radley who travelled for the match in two coaches and sung throughout the game, keeping the boys in high spirits.
Report by Harry Varney, B Social 6.2