So after a 4 month slog through the winter months, the final game of the season in Division 1 was for the league title, and was between Avenue Vets and Railway. Following last week’s shock loss for Railway against Sons of Pitches, they had left themselves with an uphill task of not only needing to win the game tonight, but they also needed to beat the opposition by 4 clear goals if they were going to win the league. Pre match confidence was high from both managers, Stu Boyd (Railway), when asked if they were going to win the league tonight, answered ' I'm confident, it's do able, let's hope so'. Whilst Peter Smith’s (Speedy) response was 'yes, we'll batter these'.
The match was officiated by Phil tonight and the game got under way at 7.54pm and both sides had different keepers in, as the usual keepers were both injured. In goal for Avenue Vets was Sean Kenny who had already played half of the games previously covering for the injured Robbie Humphries earlier in the season and in goal for Railway was Dave McGovern who had previously been a regular Monday league keeper for Paris Ganja Man. The game had also attracted a capacity crowd to the side of pitch one, with players from other teams and even off duty staff in the arena.
So we got underway, and Railway were very quick out of the blocks and we saw an early effort from Danny Edwards which was deflected off Nick Scholls and went past Sean Kenny to put Railway one up in the first couple of minutes. This was quickly followed by another goal for the same team, thanks to a left wing attack by Stu Boyd, and a shot went past Kenny and it's 2-0, early on. Anthony Sample then took a free kick for Avenue, which came to nothing as Avenue struggled to get into the game. It would appear that they were also missing the injured forward Lee Gibson. Jon Sumner (Railway) then had a shot which went wide of the goal. It was Edwards who had the next attempt which also went wide. Sumner then won the ball from Scholls, shot and scored, and it's 3-0. Avenue have hardly had a touch and don't appear to have turned up tonight.
Scholls then had an attempt at goal only to see it saved by Dave McGovern. Edwards had a further attempt which he missed, as did Paul McDonnell. Speedy then had a shot from the left wing which was going inside the left hand post only for McGovern to make a class save to deny him.
McDonnell had another effort which Kenny clawed out low to his right hand side to pull off a brilliant save. The same player had the next shot which Kenny pushed over the height mark. Speedy then put a poor pass out from the back which went straight to Edwards, and he struck the ball away and it is now 4-0 to Railway. If this continues they will win the league easily.
At long last, this appeared to get a reaction from Avenue and on their next attack, Scholls had a shot from long range, which went into the goal to make it 4-1 and now it is Avenue who, if the game stays the same, will win the league. Scholls also had the next attempt which he saw saved by the Railway keeper, McGovern. Sample then had a hard shot, which was not only saved, but was also held by McGovern. McDonnell then had a shot which Kenny saved, only to see it going back out to McDonnell, but Kenny recovered in time and held onto the ball just before it went out of the area. We then saw the pass of the game, where Dave Carrington, who was in the left back position passed it forward to Brady, who slotted the ball home and Avenue are well in control of their own fate now, even though they are losing 4-2. The half time whistle blows and a much needed rest for all.
The 2nd half started very much as the 1st half had, with Boyd having two early shots, one from the right side and one from the left only to see both efforts saved by Kenny. Edwards, then won the ball on the right hand side and again scores, and it's now 5-2. Edwards also had another shot, only to see it well saved. Unfortunately for Avenue, the ball rebounded back to Sumner who put it away, and it's now Railway's title, as the score is now 6-2. They have the much needed 4 goal advantage needed to win the title. Edward’s has another effort which has hit the upright. Edwards then also won the ball on the left wing, crossed it to McDonnell but he missed with his attempt. Speedy then attacked down the left wing, shot and scored. It's now 6-3 and the pendulum has now swung back in Avenue's favour. Boyd then saw his shot also hit the upright.
The next goal was going to be crucial as we entered the last 10 minutes of the game, and it went to Avenue, thanks to Sample, it's now 6-4 to Avenue. Avenue then changed tactics, and decided to play possession football, and it was up to Railway, to take the ball off them, which they struggled to do. In the last minute of the game, Edwards gained possession and scored to make it 7-4 with his fourth goal of the game, but there wasn't enough time left for another goal, and Avenue came out the victors, even though they had lost the game, as they won the Division 1 title after 16 games played, courtesy of a one goal better goal difference than Railways.
This was the best game I had witnessed at the Soccerdome as a 'reporter', and it was down to the honesty of both teams, who played it in the correct spirit, with little disagreement with the referees decisions. MOM tonight went to Sean Kenny, and this was well deserved, even though I am his Father, his biggest critic and perhaps a little biased. Well done also to Phil for his excellent officiating of the game.