Three sides had dominated the Hellenic Division Two East all season. Long Crendon, Langley and Penn & Tylers Green Development had lost just 5 games between the three of them. With just a single league game to go, Long Crendon v Langley, all three sides were locked on 74 points, just goal difference keeping Long Crendon on top of the pile.
So, the whole season came down to one game. Long Crendon needed a point to take the title, Langley had to go for the win.
Long Crendon could have been forgiven for keeping it tight in this game. After all, they only needed a point to clinch the title. However, it was the team in green who started the stronger of the two sides. After just a couple of minutes Oli Lethbridge got clear on the right, forcing a good save from the Langley keeper. Moments later an Archie Pettingell effort scraped the top of the Langley bar with the keeper well beaten. Langley, to their credit, weathered the initial storm and played their way into the game.
After 26 minutes Langley had a massive shout for a penalty when one of their players appeared to be taken out when in a goal-scoring position. From my angle, admittedly at the opposite end of the ground, it did look like a penalty. However the referee, who was in a much better position, immediately waved play on despite the protestations of the Langley players. This could well have been the turning point of the game because, barely six minutes later, Long Crendon took the lead through Christian Warwick who drilled the ball firmly past the Langley keeper. 1-0
The goal put Long Crendon firmly in control of their destiny. They immediately looked a lot more relaxed and confident on the ball. Langley were wobbling a little and could clearly see their title challenge fading at this point.
Three minutes before half-time Long Crendon hit Langley with a second, and probably decisive, goal. Some good work down their right flank led to the ball being crossed into the path of captain Alex Farley. His low drive back across the keeper nestled into the corner of the net to make it 2-0.
HT Long Crendon 2 Langley 0. With the home side only needing a point for the title, it's going to take something very special from Langley in the second half.
As with the pattern of the first half, Langley played themselves back into the game and, just before the hour mark, came close to getting a goal back themselves when a header from a left-wing corner was headed off the Crendon line by Joe Russell.
Langley kept trying to press for a way back into the game but were eventually undone when, following a Long Crendon break, Archie Pettingell was adjudged to have been fouled in the box. Nathan Brownsword stepped up and calmly slotted home the penalty to make it 3-0 and put the title firmly in the bag.
Crendon were clearly boosted by their third goal and a few minutes later came exceedingly close to getting a fourth. Only some good goal-keeping and last ditch defending prevented a goal. Credit to Langley who were still putting their bodies on the line to keep the ball out even though the game had effectively gone for them.
With 79 minutes on the clock, Harry Pettingell applied the icing to the Crendon cake with a sublime goal. Taking a diagonal ball on his chest he then volleyed and unstoppable effort over the keeper and into the net. Fantastic technique and a goal to grace any game. 4-0
FT Long Crendon 4 Langley 0. After a season where the sides have been neck and neck, Long Crendon took the title in some style.
Congratulations to Long Crendon but great credit should be given to Langley and Penn & Tylers Green Development, who both pushed the champions all the way.
Long Crendon: Collingwood, Russell, Bonwick, T.Lethbridge, Farley (c), Brownsword, Warwick, H.Pettingell, Hakes, A.Pettingell, O.Lethbridge. Subs: B.Sykes, T.Sykes, Tack, Chappell, Hawthorne
Ground Number: Re-visit