Jones is spot on to settle thriller
Last season’s cup finals may have been delayed due to Covid-19, but in the first of three this month, the Beacon Sunday League’s Clinton Cup was certainly worth waiting for.
Finalists FC Premier 2014 and Sedgley Rangers served up a real treat in The Sports Shop Kingswinford-sponsored encounter, played out at a relatively quiet AFC Wulfrunians ground with no spectators present.
On the pitch, though, there was plenty to admire as both sides, who finished mid-table in the Paycare Development Division, fought out a thriller that eventually saw Rangers take the spoils 7-6 on penalties after a fast and furious normal time 3-3 draw.
FC Premier took the game to Rangers in the early stages and only a good stop by man-of-the-match keeper Sam Hill thwarted the lively Jermelle Banner.
It came as no surprise when Banner slipped the ball past Hill to break the deadlock on 13 minutes. Hill remained busy, denying FC Premier further opportunities.
Rangers gradually forced their way into the clash, with Connor Hoban sending a free-kick just over. Almost on the stroke of half-time the same player levelled the scores, heading home a Ben Thompson cross, immediately after Hill had kept out another effort from the same rival.
The second period was only two minutes old when Rangers grabbed a second goal, Alex Pinches drilling in a low shot from the edge of the box.
Banner remained the main threat for FC Premier and, after once more being thwarted by Hill, he levelled the scores, heading in a James Priddey free-kick on 56 minutes.
But Rangers were soon back in front when Dan Pritchard beat FC Premier keeper Sam Agius with a low shot from just outside the area.
Unfortunately for FC Premier, they lost the services of Banner midway through the second half with a leg injury, but his side kept plugging away in search of an equaliser and Dan Meredith was denied by Rangers’ hero Hill.
FC Premier took advantage of the league’s roll on, roll off substitute rule late on and Banner returned and set up a great chance for Ugo Iroegbunam, but he headed wide from six yards with just a minute of normal time to go.
It looked all over for FC Premier, but credit to them, they kept pushing and probing and when Hill made his one mistake of the game, deep into injury time, Dan Westley took the tie to penalties.
In a dramatic spot-kick battle – seven penalties were missed – but Luke Jones stepped forward and eventually secured success for Sedgley Rangers.
The league’s other two finals for 2019/20 are: Sept 20, NDT Midlands Lester Charity Cup, CTS United v Claregate PR (2.15pm); Sept 24, Wilkes Tranter Accountants Chell Cup, Trysull Athletic v Sedgley Sporting (7.45pm).