Southampton Divisional Football Association Veterans Cup Final

Gosport Vets 2

(Mark Peach, Robert Stock)

Romsey Town Vets 1

(Lee Chudy)

Attendance: 96 (approx. headcount)

Hamble Community Facility (Hamble Club FC)

You can’t talk about the Invincibles without thinking about the famous 2003-04 Arsenal team. Jens Lehmann, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Martin Keown, Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Ray Parlour, Sol Campbell etc. That squad, Premier League winners under Arsene Wenger, was full of stars, unbeaten in a season, not an easy thing to do, especially in the Premier League.

Cast your mind back further and Preston North End became football’s first “Invincibles” when they won the inaugural football league competition in the 1888-89 season. That year PNE won the FA Cup too, completing a league and cup double.

Albeit not on the same scale, Romsey Town Vets have had an outstanding season in their first year as a team. The over 35’s, many of which played for Romsey Town in their younger years, came back together in the summer all keen to play again and don the Romsey jersey once more.

An unbeaten league campaign was to follow, winning the Southampton Saturday Football League Over 35’s Division B, 13 points clear of Follands Vets in second. With a goal difference of +107 and 124 goals scored in 18 league games, it’s clear to see that they have enjoyed some big victories on their way to promotion. Not only were Romsey unbeaten, they won every game, even Arsenal had to draw a couple of games on their way to winning the Premier League.

Before the league title was officially theirs, the Vets managed to add two cups to the cabinet, seeing off Nursling Vets twice in the space of a week to lift the Hampshire Veterans Cup and the Southampton Football League Vets Cup.

The treble was confirmed with the addition of the league title, something that will be remembered by all connected with the team and club. Manchester United’s treble winning season is one of their greatest achievements and not an easy feat whatever level you play at.

However it didn’t stop their, a Romsey side, full of confidence, still had one more cup final to contest, with just Gosport to play before the end of the season with the SDFA Vets Cup to play for. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and like all great “Invincibles” sides before them, the run had to come to an end as Gosport ran out 2-1 winners.

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The Game

Gosport ended their season with silverware and ending Romsey’s unbeaten season in the process with a 2-1 win to lift the SDFA Veterans Cup.

The defeat denied Town their fourth trophy of the season, having already won the league and two other cups prior to the season finale.

Lee Chudy cancelled out Mark Peach’s opener before half time, however, Gosport skipper Robert Stock managed to grab the winner in the second half, smashing the ball into the top corner.

Chris Passmore made a great save inside two minutes to prevent an early Romsey goal when Eddie Carlin played a good ball to Chudy who beat the offside trap but scuffed a shot at goal that Passmore had to block out with his feet.

The first goal did come at the other end on six minutes, Romsey’s Gary Fulker looked to clear the ball up field and it hit Peach and lobbed ‘keeper Ben Wilson and trickled over the line.

After a disappointing start, Romsey did start to create chances; Simon De’ath shooting just wide after Jay Hookway had latched onto a poor clearance from a Gosport defender.

Romsey captain Andy Kemp then had a good shot from distance, driving forward from half way before unleashing a shot that wasn’t close enough to the goal to test Passmore.

Gosport were remaining solid at the back as Matthew Wheeler saw his shot blocked after some good play between Chudy and De’ath on the right wing.

A lapse in concentration from Gosport’s Paul Clark allowed Chudy to race through on goal from a long hoof from Ben Andrews and as he squared the ball across the box it was spooned over and out for a corner. From the resulting set piece, the ball was half cleared to De’ath on the edge of the area who curled a shot that rattled the crossbar as Romsey kept digging for the equaliser.

The equaliser did come on 31 minutes when De’ath slid a ball in just out of the reach of Clark and Chudy took his time, picked his spot, cut inside and drilled low into the corner with his stronger left foot.

Chudy could have had a first half hat trick as he raced through again moments later, managing to get his shot away that Passmore did well to save. As half time approached, the former Wimborne striker picked up the ball from a good pass from Carlin and from the corner of the box bent a shot at goal that smashed clean off the crossbar and away.

As the temperature dropped and the wind picked up, the second half took a while to get going as the two sides couldn’t be separated.

Romsey’s Kemp forced a good save from Passmore with a low hard shot with the ‘keeper at full stretch to tip away.

Gosport did find themselves ahead again when Ian Rew put a testing ball into the box from the left side and Stock was there to take a touch before smashing the ball into the top corner from 12 yards out.

Wilson was forced into a good save to deny Peach from scoring again when he tried a shot from a tight angle. Gosport were buoyed by their second goal and enjoyed a good spell of possession.

It looked like it was going to be Gosport’s night and they nearly added a third when Stock fired a low cross that squeezed its way underneath Wilson before a Romsey defender cleared the ball off the line.

The woodwork came to Gosport’s rescue for a third time, again denying Chudy another equaliser when he picked up Carlin’s cross before looping a shot over Passmore before it hit the base of the back post and out.

Romsey then made another goal line clearance to deny Peach after some good work from Gosport substitute Ollie Bennett who had picked out his team mate in the box for a shooting opportunity.

Romsey gave their all in the final minutes, pegging Gosport into their own box but they couldn’t find the all important goal that would have forced a penalty shootout, ending their near perfect season in defeat.

2016/17 Games: 125

2016/17 Grounds: 66 (10)

Total Grounds Visited: 156 (41)

For more pictures please like my new Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/TerraceTrav/ where there is an album dedicated to this match.

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