Hampshire Saturday Veterans Cup Final

Romsey Town Veterans 1

(Greg King)

Nursling Veterans 1

(Matt Perry)

Attendance: 74 (approx. headcount)

Folland Park (Folland Sports FC)

This game is the first cup final that I have attended since setting up this blog back in July last year.

Romsey Town Vets are a great bunch and I really enjoyed watching them play in a semi final of another cup back in January. They are another team that thanks to an active social media account have kept me interested. I could never have guessed that I would be interested in watching a veterans match.

The club on a whole, right the way through from the youth teams, to the reserves and senior side in the Wyvern and Wessex leagues up to the Vets teams, are a club that I am proud to live up the road from and I have watched more and more of the games since moving to the area in July last year.

It has been a fantastic year for this Over 35 team. Currently in their first ever season, they have won all of their 13 league games in the Southampton Football League Veterans Over 35’s B Division, second to Follands Vets who have played three more games.

In fact, Romsey have won all of their league and cup games and have another two finals to contest before their league season concludes. If they continue their 100% record, they will be on for a quadruple, a trio of cup wins and the league title.

The Ground

The game was kindly hosted at Follands Park, home of Wessex Division One side Folland Sports. This is my fourth visit to the ground and second this season. For my comments on the stadium, please read my piece from August when the Plane Makers drew 1-1 with Hythe & Dibden- Travelling To- Folland Sports.

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The Game

Lee Smith smashed the deciding penalty straight over the bar to condemn Nursling Vets to a cup final defeat in a tightly contested Hampshire Veterans Cup finale.

The game was all square at 1-1 after 90 minutes and it went straight to penalties, both teams dispatching all five of their opening spot kicks before Smith’s miss in sudden death.

Nursling had taken a lead on 73 minutes through Will Perry, however their lead lasted a matter of minutes when Greg King scored a wonderful free kick from the edge of the box within a minute of coming on for James Black.

The game was littered by late challenges in the early encounters with tackles flying in from both sides. Nursling’s bench was very animated but the referee seemed very reluctant to show any bookings to any players.

Romsey had a couple of chances from distance as both sides settled into the game, Daniel Homer going close with his shot going straight into David Ariss’ arms.

The Nursling bench were incensed when the referee was late in letting a player receiving treatment on the touchline return to the pitch with the side playing for a few minutes with ten men.

It was an end-to-end encounter and Nursling didn’t create enough in the right areas to threaten Ben Wilson’s goal. Romsey did spoil a great chance on the break when Lee Chudy crossed into the box for Simon De’ath who tried an acrobatic effort but the contact wasn’t good enough as the ball sailed wide.

De’ath went close again with another volley that went just over the bar from Eddie Carlin’s cross moments later.

The best chance of the half fell to Gary Fulker whose long free kick evaded Ariss and was cleared off the line, the ball looking to strike the arm of the Nursling defender but it went unnoticed by the officials.

Nursling nearly took the lead through Ben Penfold who raced through and tried to catch Wilson off his line but the lobbed effort went wide. Nursling ended the half on a high and Perry raced through and outpaced Black but he could only poke a soft shot at Wilson.

In the second half, the woodwork came to Nursling’s rescue when Simon Eagle missed a header over the top and Chudy raced through, beating the onrushing Ariss, but the ball just clipped the outside of the post.

Chudy then spurned another good chance for Town as he regained possession on the touchline, advanced towards goal but instead of shooting, decided to square the ball across the box, allowing Nursling to clear the danger.

The woodwork came to Nursling’s rescue again as Romsey really ramped up the pressure. Captain Andy Kemp sent a volley destined for the top corner at goal but it hit the corner of the post/bar and out.

Against the run of play, Nursling took the lead on 72 minutes through Will Perry. Nursling kept possession inside the attacking half and Gareth Springer laid a little pass off to Perry who smashed it first time into the top corner from 20-yards.

Romsey made a change straight after conceding, King coming on for Black as an extra option in the forward line. Romsey attacked from the off and Kemp slid in a great ball to Carlin who displayed a heavy touch before the ball was smothered away by Ariss.

Moments later, Danny Gettings shoved Fulker in the back, conceding a free kick on the edge of the box. King stepped up and with his first touch of the game curled a beautiful free kick into the top corner to level the scores.

Romsey needed to be more clinical in front of goal and King could have been the hero with the winner when he found some space in the box, however he tried to pick out De’ath and the ball rolled out of play.

In the final moments of the game, Kemp couldn’t find the desired finish to round off a slick Romsey attack as Chudy’s cross from the left fell to Fulker who knocked it back to Kemp to curl a shot just wide.

The game needed penalties to decide the tie and both sides displayed a perfect set of five to take the shootout into sudden death. King calmly dispatched his spot kick to give Town the advantage and Smith stepped up to fire his penalty down the middle, straight over the bar and out of the ground to confirm Romsey Town Vets’ first piece of silverware as a team.

2016/17 Games: 113

2016/17 Grounds: 61 (10)

Total Grounds Visited: 155 (41)

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