VMFC v London Romans
Saturday 31 May 2014
Cup final heartbreak for Village Manchester
Village Manchester suffered cup final heartbreak as they lost 4-2 to London Romans in the GFSN Cup on 31 May.
The game, which was being played on the elite indoor 3G pitch at the stunning St George’s Park - the England Football Association's national football centre – saw Village take a quick two goal lead but they were pegged back as the Romans went on to take victory.
Village started the day by gathering at Via on Canal Street for an early morning all day breakfast before boarding the coach for the cup final venue at Burton-Upon-Trent.
St George’s Park is set within acres upon acres of green fields and woodland and the players had time to take in the sights and atmosphere of a place that in the previous few days saw the England international team get themselves prepared for the World Cup.
After getting used to their surroundings, Village got kitted up for action as manager Matt Hall gave his final pre match team talk and ran through the starting line up.
Baker, who played an important part in getting the team to the final following his penalty heroics in the quarter final, was in goal and Hardern, Storey, McPherson and Edwards were charged to make sure that the American wouldn’t be too busy. Connell, Wilson and Clayton took residence in the middle of the park with Papademetriou and Langford providing the width. Holmes was the lone man up front. Hall was able to call upon a strong bench as he joined Stevens, Feis-Bryce, Mullender, Mog and Kirkham on the sidelines.
The game kicked off following the obligatory team photos and ‘Respect’ handshake and Village quickly got into their rhythm as they passed the ball around competently on the big pitch.
The midfield three were controlling the game and provided a calmness on the field that showed no sign of cup final nerves. Village looked dangerous and the running and skills of Holmes, Papademetriou and Langford asked a lot of questions of the Romans.
And it was from the boot of the Cypriot winger that Village took a deserved lead. Papademetriou, who was stationed out on the right hand side of the pitch, took control of the ball and dribbled the ball diagonally to the edge of the box. After engineering himself some space he let fly with a strongly hit low shot that flew past the keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0
Village quickly doubled their lead and this time it was from the other winger Langford. Holmes, who caused the opposition defence trouble all game with his tireless running, was brought down 25 yards out from the goal. With the free kick being quite central, Langford could pick which side he wanted to shot towards. There was an air of anticipation in the arena as it was a Langford free kick in the semi final that set the club on the way to this cup decider. And he made no mistake as he picked his shot perfectly and found the top left hand corner of the goal. 2-0
With 25 mintues gone, things were going well for Village and there was a real sense of belief that the team could emerge victorious against the Romans. However, the tide of the tie began to swing with two instances in the following 10 minutes. Connell, who was marshalling the midfield expertly and was winning more than his fair share of headers, has been fighting a leg injury over the past few weeks and he had to come off as his injury got the better of him. This loss was a big blow for the team but Wilson was able to take over control of the midfield to soften the blow a little.
The Romans were pushing and probing and, after changing their strike force, they looked to test Baker more than they had in the first 30 minutes. And they got one goal back after a ball unfortunately bounced off Storey and into the path of the Romans number 8. Despite a fairly tight angle, the striker was able to force a finish past the diving Baker into the far side of the goal. 2-1
This goal gave the Romans belief and it needed some great blocks and tackles from Storey to stop them grabbing the equaliser. Village made a few subs to try and stem the tide and the introduction of new blood gave the team some new energy and ideas. However, after Village burst out of the blocks in the opening half of the first half, the hot and stuffy conditions started to take their toll and the team were happy to hear the half time whistle so that they could get to the changing rooms to recuperate.
Half time: VMFC 2-1 London Romans
Read the GFSN's match report here
Manager Hall made a few changes at half time and encouraged the team to take the game by the scruff of the neck and bring the trophy back to the North West.
The second half got off to the worst possible start however as Romans scored two quick-fire goals to take the lead in the game for the first time. A Romans striker was played onside by a tiring McPherson and he took advantage of the ball getting stuck underneath Storey's feet by pinching the ball off the Sunderland fan and rounding Baker to equalise. 2-2
They went in front minutes later as their strength and pace saw the ball dispatched past Baker. 2-3
It was a lead that the Romans were not going to relinquish - despite Village desperate attempts. Kirkham was causing a lot of problems and his running and passing gave Village a regular outlet. After taking the lead, the Romans began to sit back a little and this meant Village were unable to get through the tight defence and test the opposition keeper out as much as they wanted.
The Romans defence had got wise to the skills and quick feet of Langford and Papademetriou and Village were forced to try and find new ways to get past the opposition.
Storey was pushed forward and Village started to play more direct in an attempt to grab the all important equaliser. Village did have a decent chance to score as Langford stood over another free kick. The set piece was a little further out than his goal earlier in the game and he was unable to get the shot on target as it flew over the bar.
With Village pushing and pushing for an equaliser they had to leave themselves quite exposed at the back. And with minutes remaining Romans grabbed the goal that made the victory safe. Their striker dispossessed a Village defender and sprinted towards goal where he beat Baker. The goal sparked jubilant scenes for the Romans as they knew that victory was secured. 2-4
To be fair to Village, they didn't let their heads go down and they still kept looking for a consolation goal in the remaining minutes. It wasn't to be however and referee Kemp blew up for full time and London Romans were crowned champions.
Village were obviously disappointed by the loss - especially after having such a strong start. They can take heart from the fact that for the first 25 minutes they were outstanding, the team stayed together and encouraged each other throughout and they never gave up.
London Romans, however, dealt with the conditions better and their pace and strength was just too much for Village to handle.
Village would like to congratulate London Romans on their success and thank the officials for their work and the GFSN for organising the final in such a great venue.
The biggest thanks however go to the supporters who were cheering Village on from the sidelines. There were boyfriends, girlfriends and husbands of players, ex-players and family members and friends of players who helped encourage the players during the game and console them after the defeat. It is not too often that there is such a crowd and the club would like to express their thanks for their involvement in a big day for Village Manchester.
A final thank you goes to manager Matt Hall who ended his Village management career in great surroundings. Matt has been an extremely successful manager over the past few years and we wish him the best now that his moved to the Midlands for new opportunities.
Full time: Village Manchester 2-4 London Romans
Standing: Storey, Holmes, Stevens, Edwards, Mullender, Kirkham, Hardern, Wilson, McPherson, Clayton. Kneeling: Connell, Papademetriou, Hall, Baker, Feis-Bryce, Mog, Langford