The game was not plated on Stratton's normal home pitch. Instead it was switched to nearby Deer Park School on the Western perimeter of Cirencester. There's not too much to say about the ground apart from the pitch was flat and looked to be in good condition. There was also a hole in the net of the goal at the end furthest from the carpark. More of this later.
Both of these sides ply their trade in the Stroud & District League, Stratton in Division 4 and Kingswood Reserves in Division 7. At the early close of play last season, Stratton were 11th of 13 teams having won two of their eight games, scoring 9 and conceding 25. Kingswood Reserves were propping up Division 7 but had only played 5 games in total, winning one, drawing two and losing two. They too had scored 9 goals but had conceded 22.
The sides have already met in this competition, having been drawn together in Group C. Stratton came out on top that day, winning 3-1 at Kingswood with goals from Brett, Aniasie and Tysom.
The first meaningful piece of action in the game almost saw the away side take an early lead. They hit Stratton with a quick break down the right side and when the low hard cross was driven in it presented Ibrahim Musa with a real problem. Running back towards his own goal but knowing that a Kingswood player was coming in behind him, he had to try to get to the ball. He managed to get a toe on it but only succeeded in diverting the ball, at pace, back towards his own goal. Luckily for Musa goalkeeper Mike Wright was alert and managed to turn the ball against the bar before gratefully grabbing the rebound. Something of a scare for the home side.
Four minutes later, however, Stratton were in front. A free-kick from the right-flank was played deep towards the back post where Sylvester Anaisie did well to keep it alive, turning the ball back across the goal for Joe Brett to volley home from close range. 1-0.
Kingswood responded well to going two down in such a short space and were unlucky not to get one back in the 19th minute when they saw an effort come back off the post. This, however, was as close as they were to come in the first half. Not long after that, in the 21st minute, we had what, at first, seemed to be a moment of some controversy. Sylvester Anaisie was put through on goal, running diagonally left to right. He hit a low shot past Hopkins towards the far corner of the net which, from mine and the Kingswood benches perspective, looked to have gone narrowly wide. However, Anaisie immediately wheeled away to celebrate the goal and referee Andrew Lincoln (another name check. Those royalties are growing), signalled that the ball had indeed passed through the hole in the side of the net (see introduction). At half-time he confirmed that the net rippled and that a Kingswood player had confirmed that it did go in. The joys of grassroots football!. 3-0.
Five minutes later and Kingswood pushed the self-destruct button, conceding a penalty with a rash challenge in the box. No complaints from the defenders as Andrew Lincoln pointed to the spot. Brett took the ball and calmly slotted home his second of the evening. 4-0
There was no more scoring in the remainder of the first half. Stratton kept pushing forward, Kingswood defended well but didn't really pose any threat to the home side on the break.
HT Stratton United 4 Kingswood Reserves 0. A solid first half from the home team who, in all fairness, bossed the game. The combination of Brett and Anaisie for Stratton was too much for the visitors to deal with.
There was another lull in the scoring and it was a further 15 minutes before we saw the sixth goal. Joe Brett putting the icing on his personal performance, launching himself at a delightful cross and heading past Hopkins for his hat-trick. 6-0.
With four minutes remaining one of Stratton's substitutes, Jay Griffiths, was played in behind the defence by a lovely little reverse pass. He calmly finished the move to make it 7-0. Three minutes later the same player got another opportunity inside the Kingswood box. This time, as he managed to get a toe to the ball, he was tripped, and although the ball found its way into the net, the referee had already blown for the offence. Griffiths was handed the ball and he duly obliged from 12 yards. 8-0
FT Stratton united 8 Kingswood Reserves 0. Stratton just had too much for Kingswood on the night. The visitors never gave up trying but, in all honesty, were beaten by a much better team who played to their strengths. The power, pace and skill of Brett and Aniasie was just too much.
Stratton will now play Swindon AFC in what promises to be a good Final game.
Stratton United: Wright, Lindsay, Musa, Coker?, Cook, Brereton(c), Jeffries, Vallance, Brett, Anaisie, Timbrell. Subs: Woods, Keylock, Clarke, Oliver, Simmonds, Griffiths
Kingswood Reserves: Hopkins, Piper, Newnes, Gorman, Pierre, L.Hewer, Gorman-Williams, Toop, K.Walker, Dean, Johnson. Subs: Bezar, Bishop, Ford, R.Walker, B. Hewer
Ground Number: 268