Sunday, 29 September 2013

St Helens Blue Star 2 v 3 Seaview

Thursday 26th September 2013
Ryde and District Cup Final
Vicarage Lane, Brading
Admission by Programme: £4.00
Attendance: 50 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

Holidaying on the Isle of Wight this week, I had pretty much written off any chance of catching a game, with none of the Wessex League sides playing at home. However, the excellent Island Football Focus website alerted me to a cup final this evening which would mean I would indeed catch some football action, even if it would mean a ground revisit.

Vicarage Lane, home of Brading Town, is situated a few minutes walk from Brading town centre and about 15 minutes from the town's train station. Brading's recent participation in the Wessex League until their voluntary demotion two seasons ago means that facilities here are far better than one usually encounters in the Isle of Wight Saturday League, a league in which venues are generally recreation grounds with few or no spectator facilities. As one enters the ground, brick buildings housing a tea bar and clubhouse are situated uphill behind one goal, with a further modern brick building housing the changing rooms next to the pitch in a corner. Straddling the half way line in a small modern metallic all seater stand on one side, whilst on the other side is a narrower, more individual looking stand with wooden bench seating situated between the dugouts. There is quite a pronounced slope to the pitch, and by daytime I recall this is a really pleasant peaceful and rural venue, with trees around three sides of the ground, grass banks and clubhouse perched above the pitch behind one goal, whilst behind the other goal the view extends over countryside towards rolling hills in the distance. A four page programme was handed out with admission, rather basic with squad lists and a page providing some background to this evening's game.

This evening's game would be the cup final would be between two clubs from the Isle of Wight Saturday League Division Two. Seaview have started their season strongly, winning three and drawing the other of their four games so far and are in third place in the table. St Helens Blue Star have had a less successful start to their season, winning just one and losing the other three of their four games so far and are in tenth place in the twelve team division. Seaview have had quite a comfortable passage to the final, beating Binstead & COB 1-3 away, before two 4-0 home victories against Bembridge and Oakfield. St Helens Blue Star won 1-2 at Kings Towne and then 4-2 against High Park. The two teams have already met in the league this season, Seaview winning 5-0 at home less than two weeks ago.

On a chilly but dry evening, although the signs pointed towards a comfortable victory for Seaview, the match was actually extremely even, with St Helens playing the better football and the result really could have swung either way. As one might expect of a cup final between two very local clubs, the match was feisty and competitive, and at times rather fractious. After St Helens started the stronger and created some half chances, it was Seaview who took the lead on six minutes when Danny New latched onto a low ball forward and slotted the ball across the keeper and into the net. Quite surprisingly considering they were kicking down the slope, Seaview did not kick on from here as St Helens continued to look the better team, and they deservedly drew level with virtually the last kick of the first half when Keith Rust scored a very similar goal to Seaview's.

Into the second half and the pattern of play remained in St Helens favour but they found themselves behind again on 73 minutes when a corner was headed into the net by Ben Parker. St Helens were awarded a penalty on 81 minutes when their onrushing player was brought down just inside the box. The penalty by Rust wasn't the best, struck gently low to the right but the keeper dived the other way and so the scores were level and extra time looked likely. However, just four minutes later and Seaview took the lead for the third time in the game when Mark Watson broke clear of the defence and after he tried to float the ball over the keeper, who managed to pat the ball away but only back into Watson's path, and Watson placed the ball low into the net. St Helens couldn't find a third equaliser, and also had a player sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession in the dying minutes. Seaview lifted the trophy after the game, and although this may have been expected before the game, St Helens could feel disappointed to have lost having outplayed the opposition for long spells.

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