Sterritt to the double!
BECKETT CUP FINAL
Craigavon City 0
MONEYSLANE travelled to Crewe United last Friday night with the Beckett Cup up for grabs and to also create club history by lifting the double with the League already in the bag.
Just like the previous year Slane were up against Craigavon City in the final. An amazing crowd of Slane supporters turned out in their hundreds to roar on the team. What a season it has been for manager, Glen Moffett, who is in his first term with the club and has delivered something that was beyond belief.
Both teams got off to a nervous start but it was Slane who had the first shot on target. Cliffy Sterritt drilled in the his effort but Robinson was equal to it in the City nets.
On the fifth minute Bickerstaff was alert to catch a snap shot from the City centre forward.
Slane were tight at the back with Neville Gibbons and Neil Wilson solid in the middle, Willy McCahon and John Davenport at left and right back as City were firing long balls over the top for their speedy centre forward to run onto.
After the quarter hour City swung a dangerous corner into the Slane box but it sailed straight across goal and no-one got onto the end of it.
Sterritt was dangerous up front and the fans were looking for him to add to his 41 goal tally this season so far. Thomas McCann and Neil Bingham were threading some great balls thought the defence for him to run onto. McCann shot over and Sterritt hit a fierce shot that the City keeper held onto well.
Christopher McConville was hitting hard in the tackles and winning the battle at the right hand side of midfield and up the left McCann was using his speed. Andy Rowan was winning all the aerial balls in midfield and ploughing into every tackle with some conviction.
On the half hour Slane could have taken the lead when Sterritt crossed to John Davenport, who was free inside the box, but his header grazed the wrong side of the bar. Slane were working hard, creating openings in the City defence and the hard work from all the players was pushing City deep into their own half.
Finally the opening goal came when McCann slotted Sterritt in on goal with an inch perfect pass. He rounded Robinson and slotted the ball into the back of the empty net much to the delight of the large Slane support up the line.
Bickerstaff was marshalling his back four with plenty of orders and he was on hand to push a shot wide of the post. Rowan hit over and Gibbons was instrumental in the Slane defence, winning tackle after tackle to keep the City strikers at bay.
Slane came out the second half with a high tempo and were pushing City back, looking to probe away through for the second goal and they hadn’t long to wait. Five minutes into the half Sterritt controlled with his right foot, swung round and curled a great goal straight into the top corner.
The crowd went wild with delight. A stunning effort that will etched in the minds of all the Slane supporters for many a year to come.
Mark Ervine replaced the hard working Christopher McConville as manager Moffett reshuffled his panel.
On the hour City had a goal disallowed for off side, much to the frustration of their supporters and players in a close call by the referee.
Slane were up for this final and were pulling out all the stops to keep City at bay. The ref was busy in the centre of the field trying to keep the game flowing.
For City it was to be a day of heartbreak as Glenn’s men were not be denied. Slane were confident on the ball and playing with great panache and flair. Bickerstaff pushed a good effort from City around the post and he was alert and on his toes throughout the game.
Slane stepped up the tempo in a game that was played at a furious pace. Sterritt hit wide, Bingham hit over the top and Ervine had a snapshot go over the top.
Gibbons was playing the game of his life for Slane at centre back in his first season at the club with McCann in top form, creating openings for Slane. Davenport was leading by example, pushing his team on and driving them to the final whistle. Boyd was quietly taking no prisoners at left hand side of midfield, hitting hard in the tackles.
Devlin hit over the top for Craigavon, who were tiring such was the hard work they were putting in to try and crack open the well organised Slane defence.
Sterritt was replaced with one of Slane’s up and coming young stars, Jason Fairley, who also adds a bit of spark to the game with his pace and wonderful skill.
With the clock clicking down the Slane support was delighted when, right at the death, young Fairley raced up the line and rifled in a thunderbolt of a shot that whizzed straight into the far corner of the net for a wonderful finish top a fantastic game.
This was a super result for Moneyslane in what has been the best season in the club’s history as the club goes from strength to strength. This was a solid performance all on the team panel on the night with Gibbons, McCann and Sterritt on the top of their game. Congratulations to the players and management staff who have made the dream a reality this season.
Thanks to all the supporters who made it a special night, to the match sponsor, John McCallister the local Unionist representative, and also to Tom Kelly’s Bar for the use of their premises for the celebration party.
Thanks also to JK Express and Ulsterbus for getting the players and supporters safely to and from the game.