Nottsborough 2nd Team
AFA Intermediate Final – Old Wilsonians 2s 1 v 3 Nottsborough 2s (aet) – Saturday 18th March
The day the 2nd team had been waiting for finally arrived on Saturday, it was their chance to put their name on the AFA Intermediate trophy. Schedules were cleared, faith healers were visited and somehow they came into the game with a full complement of 14 players. They began the game lined up in their now familiar 3-5-2 formation which had been in use since the start of 2017 and had produced improved performances since its implementation.
Although early exchanges were rather tentative there was one rare moment of quality when leading scorer Ben Nash was played in down the right hand channel and from an unlikely angle crashed a superb half volley towards the far top left hand corner of the goal, only to be denied by the woodwork. Nottsborough looked the better team when they could get the ball on the floor but were not achieving this on too many occasions. Fynes was looking dangerous on the left hand side and flashed a couple of balls across the box but the attackers could not find the finishing touch. With Carter excelling in his favoured right wing back role, the team looked strong in the wide areas. However, Nottsborough were creating problems for themselves at the back and Wilsonians did have the ball in the net twice but were twice denied by the linesman. With the half looking like petering out to a 0-0 scoreline, Nottsborough failed to properly clear their lines and a floated effort from the edge of the area deceived Smyth in goal and he could only help it into the net rather than over the bar.
Demoralised but not downhearted, the lads came out in the 2nd half with more energy and looked to pressure the Wilsonians players into mistakes. When the ball was won back in midfield, Rory O’Brien was played in down the right hand channel and he produced a lovely ball to the front post where Nash got across the defender to confidently slide the ball home. Having got level, Nottsborough went looking for the winner and came close to getting it on a few occasions. The ball dropped for O’Brien following a melee in the box but he could only skew wide, meanwhile Green hit a lovely half volley with just minutes remaining but the keeper made a fantastic save to deny him and Nottsborough the winner inside normal time.
Extra time was on the horizon and the lads were confident and felt they had the fitness edge over their rivals. The fresh legs of Wint and Clarke replaced Fynes and Woolston and the Nottsborough players went about taking the game to Wilsonians. Half way into the 1st period of extra-time a lovely chipped ball over the middle by Bowman was latched onto by O’Brien who rounded the keeper and finished into the open net. Wilsonians did not fold however and kept pressurising the Nottsborough defenders throughout the remainder of extra time. With the weapon of a long throw they launched several balls into the box but the height of Melia, Mitic and Pilcher dealt well with most that came their way. There was one nervy moment when a Wilsonians player got through on the left hand side of the box but Smyth displayed his excellent 1 on 1 skills and made the stop. With time running out and Wilsonians committing bodies forward, Nottsborough broke through Matcham who squared the ball to an on-rushing O’Brien who took his time and slotted past the keeper. This strike sealed the game for Nottsborough and 2 minutes later the referee blew for full time.
Ultimately, a deserved success but not without its nervy moments. Credit to the players for sticking to it through the rough times this season and coming together as a squad to end up with some silverware. A fantastic effort.
MOM: Rory O’Brien – 2 extra time goals and an assist but many other candidates in a great team success
DOD: Toby – Salad wrists, dodgy socks
SAL – Civil Service 2s 0 v 0 Nottsborough 2s – Saturday 11th March
With temperatures high and spirits even higher following their most recent victory, Notts 2s headed to Civil Service for a fixture between two teams loitering in the middle of the league table. Despite the sunny climate, the action on the pitch was rather gloomy. The pitch was making it difficult for both teams to construct any notable attacking moves or chances and the first half passed by without anything significant to report.
The 2nd half was not much better but with a back 3 of Mitic, Pilcher and Woolston snuffing out any danger, Nottsborough were hopeful they could capitalise at the other end of the pitch. O’Brien came close with a delicate chip over the keeper that just floated over the bar and a couple of other half chances were squandered by Bowman and Green. The hosts almost snatched the elusive goal themselves after the back line was broken through by the home striker but he was denied by a smart save by Smyth.
When the referee blew his whistle at the end of 90 minutes I think everyone involved was happy to leave the pitch and get into the bar and forget what had gone before. A solid point for Nottsborough who will be looking to take the defensive solidarity into the upcoming cup final whilst improving upon their play in the final third of the pitch.
MOM: Tom Woolston – Returning hero (?) who nobody at the club seemed to know with a very strong performance in the back 3
DOD: Dom Matcham – he is now T-total apparently, no less annoying
*Special mention to Rory O’Brien who apparently wheeled away like Shearer following his chip of the keeper…it went a yard over
AFA Intermediate Cup Semi Final – West Wickham 1 v 3 Nottsborough (Bowman (2), Matcham) – Saturday 25th February
With the season on the line and one game to give themselves a chance at achieving something which no Nottsborough 2nd team had done before, the Nottsborough 2s saved their best performance of the season for when it mattered most and booked themselves a place in the final of the AFA intermediate cup with a 3-1 victory away at West Wickham. Lining up in a 3-5-2 formation which had been used for most of 2017, Nottsborough looked to get on the front foot right away. A cagey opening from both sides led to little quality on show but gradually Matcham and Green began to get the ball moving in the centre of the park and Nottsborough held the upper hand. Around the fifteen minute mark, one of Matchams many brilliant deliveries from a corner bounced in the six yard box and Bowman was there to pounce and the loose ball and nod Nottsborough into an early lead. The hosts were struggling to create chances and a newly formed backline of Melia, Pilcher and Woolston held strong in front of the un-troubled Smyth. Around 35 minutes had gone when Melia passed the ball into the feet of Bowman who turned and ran at the West Wickham defence, jinking to his left he unleashed a shot with his weaker foot that somehow made its way into the corner of the net past the despairing keeper. Nottsborough held strong until half time and were rightly delighted with their performance going up the famous slope and against the wind in the 1st half. Carter replaced Wint in a straight swap in the right wing back position however Wint was soon back in action on the other side of the pitch as Fynes back had gone and needed to be replaced (Fynes not his back, although don’t rule it out). The West Wickham players came out with more energy and determination about them in the 2nd half and Nottsborough couldn’t seem to find the composure they had shown on the ball in the 1st half. With twenty minutes to go, a hopeful looped cross into the Nottsborough box was not dealt with and their winger arrived at the backs stick to head the ball into the net. Hearts were in mouths when West Wickham had the chance to equalise ten minutes later and only a brilliant Toby Smyth stop in a 1-on-1 situation prevented the leveller. Rory O’Brien was then judged to have jumped on a defender to get to the ball when having what seemed like a perfectly good goal ruled out. Nottsborough were giving everything they had to hold on to the lead, Nash and O’Brien working extremely hard up the pitch and the midfield led by Green were covering every blade of grass. With 5 minutes to go it was that man Bowman again who provided the quality to quash the nerves. The ball was played into him on the half way line, he instinctively turned in-between 2 opposition players and then provided a beautiful through ball with the outside of his boot for Nash to run onto who attempted to round the keeper but was brought down in the motion of doing so. The referee pointed to the spot and the responsibility fell on Matcham to secure Nottsborough’s place in the final which he did emphatically. A great team performance from the Nottsborough 2s and some scenes to match in the post-game drinking session that followed. Details will not be made public but suffice to say there were some sore heads on Sunday (and Monday). MOM: Bowman – 2 goals and an assist – who else? DOTD: Fynes – Ball hit him in the face – ‘I had a headache but I’m okay now’ diddums
Fixtures & results