Merseyside Liverpool Cup Finals
Sutton Leisure Centre – St.Helens
Friday 27th March
A third high level tournament in the space 6 days for the Farnborough Road team and a place at Anfield at stake (or so we thought). The boys returned to the venue where they had become Merseyside E.S.F.A. champions back in December and they were determined to put disappointments behind them.
The day didn’t start out well with some missing kit for one of the players and when we arrived there seemed to be some confusion over our entry. There had obviously been some mis-communication and thankfully common sense prevailed and the team were entered in the competition.
Our first league game was against Rainford C.E. Champions from Rainford and despite playing well and creating a number of chances through Rhys creating havoc on the left wing, it was goalless at half time. The second half began badly with Farnborough conceding from a corner. This spurred the team in to action and with seconds to go live-wire Rhys smashed in a well deserved equaliser.
Match two was against West Lancs Champions – St Annes. Unfortunately Kian had sustained an injury in our opening game which was to end his involvement for the remainder of the day, however Lawrie stepped in to defence to partner Dana for all of the remaining matches. Rico was finally dressed and ready for action, Ben came in to midfield and Bailey stepped in to goal for George. The team started brightly and scored through goal machine Oscar, his 49th of the season! Farnborough looked in total domination and both Rico and Oscar looked certain to increase the lead however it was St Annes who scored against the flow of play and could have taken lead until Bailey tipped a rasping shot over the bar. Final score 1-1 but the team should really have recorded a win.
Match 3 was against well known opposition, Bootle Champions – Bedford Road. We beat them 15-14 in the semi-final at St Helens, back in December and had lost to them in the semi-final of the EFC Premier League Tournament in Kirkdale. The match saw Farnborough determined to play well and Lucas was asserting himself in midfield. Challenges flew in and the boys weathered the long ball tactics to outplay their opponents. Rhys suffered a kick to head and Oscar was caught a blow in the stomach but the team refused to buckle and the match ended nil nil.
After some deliberation the team were told they were group winners (which we had already worked out!) on goals scored, as all matches in the group had been draws, 2 teams had scored one goal each and Bedford Road had failed to score in any game. There were play offs in both groups to determine semi-finalist, with one going to 10-9 in a penalty shoot out. All this meant that the Farnborough team had to hang around for half an hour.
Finally at 4pm Farnborough took on Westvale County Primary from Kirkby. Unfortunately Rhys was suffering from his head injury, unable to play and Dana was carrying a sore leg but decided he would play through the pain. Once again, Farnborough looked a quality team, passing the ball round and Oscar managed to grab the vital goal to take the lead – his 50th of the season! Another injury, this time to Rico, saw Bailey step in and full of energy he put in a number of runs down the wing. Lucas looked a certainty to make it to make it 2-0 but Westvale’s keeper blocked the shot. With some resolute defending from Lawrie, Dana and George in gaol the final whistle blew and Farnborough were in to the final.
The final saw us replaying St.Annes who had won their semi-final. Both teams looked a little tired but Farnborough’s ‘walking wounded’ seemed the more determined. Rico and Rhys were back on the wings and Lucas was holding his own in centre midfield. Oscar was sent clear and broke the deadlock, one nil as half time came. The second half saw Lucas limp off and Bailey return. The team battled together as Westvale tried in vain to score – Oscar was back in defence helping out the ever-present Dana and Lawrie, whilst George pulled off a number of vital saves. The final whistle blew and Farnborough were Merseyside Liverpool Cup champions.
Both teams lined up for their medals thinking they had earned the right to replay an epic final at Anfield, only to hear that Liverpool F.C. are unable to accommodate the Liverpool Cup this season. Such a disappointment for both sets of players to have their hopes dashed. Hopefully the competition will be a success at the Liverpool Academy but not quite the conclusion to the season the team had hoped.
Farnborough are now double Merseyside Champions – Liverpool Cup and English Schools’ F.A. competitions. A fabulous achievement that is very rare, however well deserved. The team have played some incredibly tough games in the space of 6 days against County and Regional Champions. Not once have they been outplayed and each member of the squad should be very proud of their contribution – the school, families, Southport and Merseyside have wonderful champions.
Nick Hanlon - a very proud manager.