Marvellous Mile Oak lift Veterans Cup
Mile Oak lifted the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup following a dominant 4-0 win over Pagham at Culver Road on Wednesday night.
Last years defeated finalists finally had their taste of success as they displayed a cutting edge that proved too much for Pagham despite Mile Oak being down to ten men for much of the second-half.
The game was competitive and combative early on with a frenetic pace being set from kick-off.
Within the first minute, Pagham’s Russell Hardwell found himself in space on the left-hand side of the box, but his strike was straight at Lee Denver in the Mile Oak goal.
The pace of the first five minutes eased off and Mile Oak grew into the game with the better chances falling to them.
The first-half continued in that vein; Mile Oak had several shots without testing the keeper and Pagham attacked but struggled to find a final ball to unlock the defence.
It seemed the first-half would end goalless but on the 37th minute Mile Oak’s Mark Allwright, who worked tirelessly all night, broke the deadlock.
A low cross found Allwright in the centre of the box and he finished smartly into the roof of the net.
Momentum was on Mile Oak’s side, and they pushed for a second goal. The ball broke to Jason Gathern on the edge of the box, but his driving shot was blocked by the sliding Pagham defenders.
The respite would prove short lived as Gathern scored directly from the resultant corner.
His in-swinging delivery snuck inside the near post despite the best efforts of Paul Murphy in the Pagham goal.
Mile Oak started the second-half where they had left off, Allwright had a shot blocked in the area and minutes later Aaron Ransom drove through the centre of the pitch running 40-yards before seeing his shot parried by Murphy.
Good defending from Pagham’s Ash Hunter stopped the follow-up being tapped in by Allwright.
In the 53rd minute the flow of the game changed as Mile Oak were reduced to 10 men, following a coming together between Mile Oaks Adam Griffith and Pagham’s Carl Turney.
After a few minutes of deliberation Griffith was given his marching orders while Turney was shown a yellow.
The red card gave Pagham hope of a comeback as they forced Mile Oak to desperately defend the edge of their area.
Several dangerous crosses went into the box, but a Pagham head couldn’t get on the end of them.
The 76th minute saw the game decided, a long ball over the top of Pagham’s defence was raced onto by Ransom for Mile Oak.
Pagham’s Hunter tried to get to the ball first, but Ransom had the beating of him and flicked the ball past Murphy to put the result beyond doubt.
Yet Mile Oak saved their best goal till last.
The Pagham goalkeepers’ clearance got stuck in the wind, Mile Oaks Stuart Garrod chested it down 40-yards from goal and unleashed a beautiful strike that snuck under the crossbar causing astonished cheers from the crowd.
Mile Oak manager, Tony Burnett, reflected on a proud night for his team: “It was worrying when we went down to ten men, but we got the job done.
“It was a tough battle especially in the first-half. We got the goal from the corner which made it two, and we felt we were in control.
“After half-time the next goal was massively important.”
The only dampener on the night was the goal of the game by Garrod: “Stuart’s goal has probably ruined my evening because we won’t hear the end of that!
“It was one hell of a strike. He used to be a cracking player, he’s got bad knees and it’s frustrating for him so it’s nice for him to get that tonight.”
Mile Oak take home the trophy after a battling performance ensuring that last year’s final loss is a distant memory.
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats (Mile Oak- Pagham): Goals (4-0); Shots (15-7); On target (6-5); Offsides (3-1); Fouls (2-9); Yellow cards (0-2); Red cards (1-0)
Mile Oak: Denver, Loughlin, B. Lovett, Gould, J. Lovett, Ransom, Day, Allwright, Gathern, Georgiou, Budge.
Subs: Bradburn, Garrod, Rowe, Wotherspoon, Griffith.
Pagham: Murphy, Hudson, Hunter, Bradshaw, Barnett, Turney, Weir, Hardwell, Caverney, Brown, Noble.
Subs: Murfin, Cox, Rowland, Neighbour, Wimble.