Consolation Shield Final: AFC Gwatch 3-0 Commodore FC

Chris Howells

Chris Howells

AFC GWATCH completed a memorable run in this year’s Consolation Shield with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Commodore FC.

Sam Tobin opened the scoring in the first half before Oliver Furneaux doubled the cricketers’ advantage, and finally Tobin converted a penalty after Commodore goalkeeper Harley Dalton was sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. The first half was a frenetic affair, with neither side possessing the confidence to really put a stamp on the game. Sure enough, it took over 20 minutes for Commodore midfielder Jack Lewis-Roberts to put the first shot of the match high and wide of Mark Lewis’ goal. At the other end, Gwatch’s midfield general Richard Scragg went close, with a powerful attempt from 25 yards out flying wide after a neat knock down by Ruairi Willis. On 35 minutes referee, Tony Bickley was forced into his pocket to award the first card of the day, a yellow for Timothy Crosse after a late challenge on Adam Morris. Moments later the deadlock was finally broken. A Ryan Davies free-kick from the main stand side of the ground couldn’t be cleared, and in the mass of players Shaun Lorimer was able to flick on to Tobin who nodded the ball home and sent a large contingent of the 124-strong crowd into raptures. Before the break, Commodore was forced into a change, as Ashley Norris was replaced by Harry Mullen. Mullen was immediately involved from a corner, but his bullet header was inches wide of the near post.

Half time: 1-0

Fortunately for the swelling crowds, the second half was a vast improvement on the opening 45 minutes, as both sides settled into their natural rhythm. University football 1st team captain Chris Warden was quick to test Gwatch ‘keeper Lewis early on, but the stopper was equal to everything thrown at him by the cinema-goers. Both teams were battling hard without creating any clear cut chances until a double substitution by Gwatch manager Matt Pritchard had a huge impact on the game. Tom Acton and Andrew Noakes replaced Morris and Nick Bolam. Instantaneously Noakes won a free-kick and Willis delivered a scintillating cross, which was flicked on by Acton and met by the unmarked Furneaux, who coolly slotted home to extend Gwatch’s lead to 2-0. Frustrations grew for Commodore, and despite the efforts of Jon Coles and Peter Skeels, their two most effective players on the day, things began to boil over. Lewis-Roberts was the second player noted in the referee’s book following a late challenge on Liam Harrington. The University 1st team cricket captain was next to come on for Gwatch – Alastair Stanistreet replacing Graham Meredith. His first action was to take a throw-in… incorrectly. With 15 minutes left on the clock the most notable incident of the match lead to Gwatch clinching the game. As a ball came over the top, Commodore ‘keeper Dalton was unfortunate in spilling a routine catch on the edge of his box – inevitably the ball fell to opposition striker Noakes who rounded the stopper. As he prepared to pull the trigger the goalie pulled his shirt, and in doing so prevented Noakes from scoring an easy tap in from six yards. The referee showed no hesitation in awarding a penalty and showing a red card, a decision supported by some great work by photographer Chris Howells. In the aftermath, James Ferguson was booked for dissent. Skeels took over as goalkeeper but was unable to prevent Tobin bagging his second of the day as the defender sent him the wrong way and put Gwatch three goals to the good. Commodore must be admired for their continued efforts, even with ten men, fighting what was ultimately a lost cause. Gwatch were still good value for their deserved win, with captain Ruairi Willis and Sam Tobin as the star performers.

Speaking after the match AFC Gwatch manager Matt Pritchard told reporter Morgan Nock: “I thought we were well organised with big game performances by the whole team being produced when needed. I also would like to give credit to our defence on a resolute performance contributing to Mark having very little to do in goal. I couldn’t be prouder of my players and the efforts put in to get what we came for.”

Man of the match: Ruairi Willis Attendance: 124