Friday, 20 May 2016

Houghton Main 0 v Swinton Athletic 1 - Doncaster & District FA Cup Final

Friday 20th May 2016
The Dawson & Burgess Doncaster & District FA, 
Challenge Cup Final
at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster Rovers FC
Houghton Main (0) 0
Swinton Athletic (0) 1
Ash Emmett OG 63
Admission £4. Programme inc. raffle £2
Houghton Main:
Damon Watson, Danny Burkinshaw, Jake Ward, Liam Graham, Aaron Tate, Danny South, Ashley Emett, Adam Stead, Sam Garforth, Kieran Hurst, Jake Simon
Subs - Scott James, Jordan Watson, Ben Day, Ryan Beadling, Nicky Harper
Swinton Athletic:
Ryan Morton, Craig Mitchell, Drew Sawdon, Shawn Mitchell, Curt Wilkinson, Jon Billups, Enzo Guarini, Mark Clare, Ryan Doxey, Alex Wilkinson, Justin Greenwood
Subs - Matt Beevers, Hayden Barnett, Scott Snodgrass, Jordan Beardsley, Joe Dungworth
Both sides had recorded big wins in their respective semi finals, with Houghton having seen off South Elmsall United Services by 5 goals to 1, while Swinton beat Denaby Main 4-1; to set up this 31st Chalenge Cup showpiece final, between two clubs who had never previously won this prestigious local tournament.
Alas, in spite of the two teams approaching the game with an emphasis on attacking football, tonight's finale to the season, was decided by a solitary goal and a rather scrappy one at that, when Houghton's Ash Emmett turned the ball into his own net in the 63rd minute, while vaingloriously trying to make a last ditch clearance, under pressure from both Curt Wilkinson and Justin Greenwood, the latter of who may well have had a good claim of his own, as to who actually scored of the winning goal.
I'm sure Emmett won't really want the credit.
Houghton started the game on the front foot, with Sam Garforth shooting just wide from a solo run inside the opening two minutes. Meanwhile Swinton had to clear a goal bound header from Danny South and saw their defence split open with a precision pass from Emmett for Kieran Hurst to run onto, but having got into a good position, he couldn't keep his shot on target.
Enzo Guarini and Drew Sawden tried to get Swinton going down the left flank, with some neat interplay on the halfway line, but Aaron Tate intercepted the ball.
But Athletic were back again moments later, when Ryan Doxey threaded the ball through to Guarini who cut in through the left channel before curling a shot towards the right hand side of Damon Watson's goal, but South managed to reach the ball and headed it out of the area, where it fell to Curt Wilkinson, whose thumping shot was blocked.
On 16 minutes, Justin Greenwood picked up the ball just inside his own half, out to the right, but before he could weigh up his options and play a pass, Garforth clattered into him, with a rash challenge, that earned him a straight red card.
As Houghton regrouped to offset their numerical disadvantage, Athletic carved an opening on the left with Guarini picking out Shawn Wilkinson who in turn slipped the ball to Sawdon on the overlap and as the defence opened to track the Swinton left back he nudged a pass into the resulting gap for Greenwood to run on to, but he slightly overran the ball over the dead ball line before getting his cross in.
Jake Ward broke down the left for for Houghton, but Ryan Morton smothered the ball before any of the Main players could reach it and Swinton moved forward again, almost taking the lead into the bargain, as Doxey chipped the ball over the defence to Greenwood who'd timed his run well, but Watson was alert and advanced from his line to gather it.
Watson was in the thick of the action again, when he turned away Mark Clare's shot after Doxey had set up a goal scoring opportunity inside the Houghton area.
Clare came close again from Alex Wilkinson's through ball, but having beat Watson the ball dropped narrowly wide of the upright.
In spite of the handicap that Garforth's red card had given his side, they kept plugging away and Kieran Hurst saw off a challenge as he muscled his way towards Morton's goal, but he put his shot past the outside of the post.
As half time approached, Greenwood tested Watson again, but the Main keeper held onto his shot.
Swinton had slightly the better of the first half possession wise andHoughton were obviously missing their centre forward since his sending off, but at half time the sides were still level pegging.
HT: Houghton Main 0 v Swinton Athletic 0
The decent sized crowd, who were all housed in the West Stand, were obviously enjoying themselves as the noise they were creating reverberated around the Keepmoat Stadium, with the Swinton following in particular entertaining themselves with a vast array of partisan songs, most of which contained words that would be wholly inappropriate to repeat on a website with a family audience; but they were amusing nevertheless and fell into the 'good humoured banter' category, rather than anything you would actually call hostile.
After the interval, the flow of the game was broken somewhat as a steady flow of substitutions for both teams kept the fourth official on his toes.
Jake Ward broke down the wing from his left back berth and impressively left two Swinton players in his wake as he powered forward, but having done the hard part he made a real mess of delivering his cross, which was met by acrescendo of ironic cheers and a few choice comments from the Swinton contingent... I hope his mother never heard any of them!
Guarini got in behind the Houghton defence on the left and crossed to Clare, but Liam Graham had read the situation well and intercepted the ball before clearing the danger.
Graham had been doing a great job of helping to steady the ship for Houghton since Garforth's dismissal, but he was destined not to finish the game on the pitch.
Guarini broke into the Houghton area from the left flank and shot past Watson as he advanced from his line to narrow the angle, but Graham threw his body behind the line of the ball, in an attempt to block it on the line; but as a a clear goal scoring opportunity (the ball was destined for the back of the net) struck Watson on the arm, the match referee, Michael Leneghan, had no option but to show the influential Main player a red card and point to the penalty spot.
I had no idea that Brian Blessed is a football manager
But the nine men of Houghton were given a psychological boost, when Watson got across to pull off a great save from Alex Wilkinson's well struck spot kick.
Swinton forced a couple of corners as Clare and Doxey tried to put the overstretched Houghton defence to the sword, but Hurst came close at the other end as he dragged a shot across the face of the goal and wide of the upright from Nicky Harper's through ball.
In the 63rd minute, Swinton took the lead, when the ball ended up in the back of the net via Houghton's Ash Emmett, who had the misfortune of getting the last touch in a crowded goalmouth scramble.
Although Harper was making a telling contribution to the final stages of the game, Houghton were struggling to cover the amount of ground that being two players light was leaving for Swinton to enjoy the luxury of knocking the ball around in. And it is testament to the tenacity shown by Terry Simon's side that they dug in and didn't get overrun now.
With the clock ticking down, Harper shot over from South's knock down and Swinton attacked from the resulting goal kick and Curt Wilkinson came close to doubling their lead from Matt Beevers sideways pass.
Right at the death, Harper broke through the left channel deep into stoppage time, but his shot fizzed past the left hand upright and nestled into the side netting.
FT: Houghton Main 0 v Swinton Athletic 1
All in all, a very competitive game, played in a lively atmosphere... and well worth the drive up to 'Donny' to watch.
Congratulations to Swinton Athletic... and kudos to the Houghton Main players who held the fort after they went down to ten men so early in the game