On a warm Wednesday evening at Fairford Town’s Cinder Lane Stadium, Town Vets welcomed Benson Lions for our final Hellenic Veterans Division One fixture of the season. Town knew they needed at least a draw to tie up the league title, whilst the visitors were hoping to claim points to lift themselves up the table.
Town started on the front foot and had the opening shot on goal within the first minute when Damian Francis had a volley from 20 yards, which went wide. Shortly afterwards and it was Paul Hulme’s chance to try his luck, but again he was wide of the target. Town continued to press for the opening goal and a good cross into the area found Paul Smith, who headed back across goal, only for the Lions keeper to pull off a great save to his right.
Town were pushing forward and on 15 minutes the ball was played in from the right, Mike Marsh flicked the ball onto Smith, who powerfully half-volleyed the ball past the diving keeper, with his right swinger to give Town the lead from 15 yards. The visitors changed their formation to try and combat Town’s attacks and were building themselves back into the match but failed to trouble the Town backline and Lee Ruddle in goal.
Then a moment of magic doubled Town’s lead on 27 minutes, as Lions cleared their lines, the ball fell from the sky to Francis, 25 yards from goal who produced a stunning left-foot volley into the top corner, leaving the keeper stranded. Lions didn’t give up and with the half coming to a close, a mix-up between Ruddle and Glenn Townsend, almost allowed the Lions striker a chance in the six-yard box, but Ruddle managed to clear everything before him! The half came to a close with Town 2-0 up, however, Lions were very much in the game.
The Town changing room was buoyant, however, they knew a hard 40 minutes was in front of them because the RAF lads would not stop running. To be fair to the visitors, They opened the half in the ascendancy and put Town on the back foot as the Town substitutes struggled to get a grasp of the speed of play.
After a solid 15 minutes of pressure, Town did grab their final goal of the game as Lions pushed forward they lost their shape and Town intercepted a pass. Pat Graham played the ball onto Aidan Streete on the right of the Lions penalty area and Kammy’s first-time cross was met by the on-rushing Colin Yates who volleyed home, left-footed from six yards and gave Town the breathing space they were hoping for.
With the game drawing to a close, Town created more chances but failed to convert. Troy Redman fed Yates and his right-wing cross was just too high for Streete, with the goal at his mercy and then as the match came to a close, Marsh drilled a cross into the Lions penalty area, met by Nick ‘Fivehead’ Wojcik who had too much surface area to apply a strong goalward header from 10 yards as the ball slid off his head and wide of the goal. The final whistle was blown with the Town squad and supporters celebrating the league title, which saw them go 13 games unbeaten after the opening fixture defeat.
Final Score: CHAMPIONS Faringdon Town Vets 3-0 Benson Lions
Town Gaffer Martin Harries was in jubilant mood at the final whistle
“The famous saying from Alan Hansen ‘you can’t win anything with kids’ has been chucked aside again! This bunch of lads have been amazing all season. Lugs and myself came into this expecting it to be fun and we would be competitive in our first Vets season. However, to win the league and reach the semi final of the cup, beating Premier Division sides on the way has exceeded our expectations. The season has been a laugh a minute every week, however it has been like controlling a load of 13 year olds who have been eating loads of E numbers and drinking cheap raspberryade!!!! I will say a huge thanks to Lugs (assistant manager) and to Joel for running the line this year, plus our supporters (Will, Rocky especially) for coming to watch us each week”.
Match Squad: Lee Ruddle, Steve Pugh, Dave Legg, Damian Francis, Gary Sutton(c), Glenn Townsend, Phil Thompson, Nick Wojcik, Paul Smith, Paul Hulme, Mike Marsh, Colin Yates, Pat Graham, Ben Spencer, Aidan Streete, Troy Redman,
MOTM: Damian Francis (Cracking strike and won numerous tackles)
DOTD: Phil Thompson (Massive fall from grace after last week, Benson Lions MOTM).