I had had the pleasure of seeing both of the semi-finals, in which Chesterton had beaten Hatherop 6-0 (Chesterton Too Hot For Rop), and Malmesbury had seen off Wickwar Wanderers after a penalty shootout (The End Of The War). This promised to be a very tight contest despite the apparent three division gap between the teams, Chesterton being in the Stroud & District Division 1 (Step 10) and Malmesbury in the Wiltshire Senior League (Step 7).
This was not just a Cup Final, it was a local derby Cup Final, with just over 12 miles separating Chesterton's Siddington Playing Field and Malmesbury's Flying Monk ground. There was also goig to be at least one player on the field who had played for both clubs, maybe more. With some dampness in the air and a fresh coating a rain on the ground to make a slippy top surface, it all added up to what promised to be a competitive and entertaining game.
I am pleased to say that it did, indeed, live up to the billing.
There was still a few drops of rain falling as we prepared for kick-off. Malmesbury in their black and white striped shirts, red shorts and red socks, Chesterton in a two shade blue shirt, dark blue shorts and socks. I noticed early on that Scott Smith, who I had seen score seven times in two games for Chesterton, was missing and not on the bench. I was to find out later that he was taking part in a 24 hour charity golf event.
Malmesbury were the first to show in this game, quickly getting into their stride and pushing Chesterton back into their own half. Six minutes in Chesterton's keeper Karl Wright had to be very sharp off his line to smother a Joe Tranter effort and two minutes later the same Vics striker was again played in, this time by a delightful pass from Joseph Ogugua, only to put hiss effort just past Wright's right-hand post. A very lively start from Malmesbury but it wasn't all one way traffic. Chesterton, who also like to play a passing game, were slowly easing their way into it and got their first strike on target after 15 minutes when a Tom Cox effort was gathered by Macauley Brown.
It was Vics, however, who got their noses in front, just before the 20 minute mark. Once again Ogugua was the architect, sliding an inch perfect pass in to Joe Tranter, who finished calmly and precisely. 0-1
Malmesbury were now on top and two minutes after taking the lead they almost doubled their advantage. Aaron Sanghera weaved some magic on the left flank, got to the by-line and cut back for Harrison Archer who saw his effort blocked on the line.
There was then a brief lull in goalmouth action, although no let up by either team in their quest to play attractive football.
Chesterton once again had Karl Wright to thank on 37 minutes, when he had to be alert to block a Tranter effort. Tranter could easily have had a first-half hat-trick if not for the Chesterton stopper. Chesterton immediately went up the other end, setting Tom Cox loose to attack the Vics backline, but Josh Curtis timed his tackle perfectly (think Bobby Moore against Brazil in 1970) to thwart the Chesterton striker.
Malmesbury then hit Chesterton with a late second goal. A free-kick wide on the right was clipped towards the front post and flicked on into the path of Joseph Ogugua who met it with a crisp volley to beat Wright. 0-2
HT Chesterton 0 Malmesbury Victoria Development 2. Two good sides who both want to play passing football. Malmesbury's extra bit of composure on the ball, combined with their defensive organisation, saw them take a commanding lead into the break.
Chesterton had managed to reassert themselves on the game at the start of the second half, even if they had not managed to reduce the deficit. However, they were completely undone just before the hour mark when a Brown goal-kick bounced over the entire Chesterton defensive line leaving Tranter with a free run on goal. He did not need a second invitation, sliding the ball past the advancing Wright to make it 0-3.
This looked to be game over, but Chesterton didn't seem to be downhearted. In fact, immediately after the third goal, they went up the other end and produced arguably the best passing move of the game before forcing Brown into a decent save. Then, just past the hour, they did manage to get one back. Peare found himself on the right wing and absolutely hammered over a shoulder height cross towards the near post. Kieran Jones bravely put his head in, narrowly getting in front of Brown, to nod the ball home. 1-3. Once again the Vics keeper was in the wars, requiring more treatment after the collision with Jones.
Even after getting one back, with less than 30 minutes remaining, it looked to be more of a consolation than anything else. That was until, the 76th minute when Chesterton broke down a Malmesbury attack and launched a quick raid of their own down their left side. Peare was set free and he duly slid the ball past Brown for 2-3. Now it was a different story. Chesterton smelled blood and Malmesbury, who had played with great confidence up until that point, were visibly wobbling.
What a comeback from Chesterton. From 0-3 to 3-3 in 20 minutes and we were in for a nail-biting final 10 minutes.
Credit to Malmesbury, who had been rocking, but suddenly pulled themselves together. Both sides, in fact, were going flat out to win the game. On 84 minutes Chesterton, once again, were indebted to Karl Wright who reacted superbly to get down to an Ogugua header, diverting it around the post. A minute alter Ogugua pulled a long ball out of the sky with a superb touch but his low effort went narrowly wide. Tranter was then put in the clear but once again Wright was equal to the task, saving with his feet this time to deny the striker his hat-trick.
FT Chesterton 3 Malmesbury Victoria Development 3. What a game! Some superb football on show from both teams. No holds barred. Certainly a few tasty tackles going in, but no maliciousness, just honest challenges (although maybe one or two were ill-timed). From a neutral's perspective, I would have given both teams a medal and declared it a draw. Neither deserved to have to go home as losers. However, that's not the way football works, as we know, and with no extra-time being played we were straight into a penalty shootout. Twice I have seen Malmesbury play and both games have gone to penalties. They won the last one. How was this one going to pan out?
Aaron Sanghera for Vics scores. 0-1
Will Power for Chesterton scores. 1-1
Joe Tranter for Vics scores. 1-2
George Peare for Chesterton scores. 2-2
Josh Curtis for Vics scores. 2-3
Dan Jones sees his penalty saved by Macauley Brown. 2-3. Advantage Malmesbury?
Jospeh Ogugua has his kick saved by Karl Wright. Still 2-3.
Kieran Jones levels it up. 3-3
Anthony Brown for Vics, scores. 3-4
Ian McSherry has to score for Chesterton, and he does (not dies as I tweeted). 4-4
James Archer is next for Vics. Scores. 4-5
James Moorcroft for Chesterton makes it 5-5
Connor Laidlaw next for Malmesbury. Scores. 5-6
Tom Cox makes no mistake. 6-6
Dan Cole scores for Vics. 6-7
Ashley Rockley scores for Chesterton. 7-7
Macaulay Brown, Vics goalkeeper, steps up and scores. 7-8
Matched by Kyle Walker for Chesterton. 8-8
Ethan Porter next for Vics but Wright saves well. Still 8-8
Dan Fragnoli to win it for Chesterton. Scores! 9-8
Chesterton: Wright, Barham, Moorcroft, Luce, Fragnoli, D.Jones, Cox, K.Jones, Peare, Power, Stratford. Subs: Walker, Rockley, McSherry
Malmesbury Victoria Development: M.Brown, A.Brown, Cook(c), Fortune, Porter, Curtis, Ogugua, Cole, Tranter, H.Archer, Sanghera. Subs: Tilley, Laidlaw, Lyon, Scull, J.Archer
So, that's the end of the Cricklade Supreme Trophy & Shield 2021. I think it is safe to say that the competition was a success. From a personal perspective, I have enjoyed every minute of watching games and keeping the scores, tables and fixtures up to date on the web site. The Shield Final was the 14th game that I managed to attend. I added 11 new grounds to my list, saw a total of 70 goals scored (not including the two penalty shoot-outs) and travelled a total of 1245 miles in the process. Most importantly, 32 teams got the opportunity to play competitive football after yest another washed out season. So, a big thank you to organisers Cricklade Town, Chairman Richard Austen and former first-team manager Craig Kent.