Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Bristol Deaf 8 v 2 Black Country Deaf

Saturday 24th May 2014
English Deaf Football Challenge Plate Final
James Whatman Way, Maidstone
Admission including Programme: £5.00
Attendance: 100 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

With prolonged heavy rain forecast for today, I decided not to take any chances of a waterlogged pitch at a recreation ground and instead headed for a third time this season to Maidstone United's home ground with its plastic pitch. It would also be my first ever taste of deaf football, with two national cup finals being played today.

There are no adaptations to the standard rules of football for the deaf variety, the only noticeable difference being the referee waving a flag when a free kick is awarded. A 12 page programme was produced, covering both of today's games and providing a welcome message, routes to the finals and final league standings. Reasonable, although a little more background to deaf football would have been a nice touch in promoting the game to those new to deaf football.

To reach today's final, Bristol Deaf, who won this competition in 2012, had beaten Cardiff City Deaf 10-0 at home in the quarter-final and then Charlton Athletic Deaf 1-4 in the semi-final. Black Country Deaf received a bye in the quarter-final before beating Barnet Deaf 3-2 after extra time. In their league campaigns, Bristol Deaf finished bottom of the six team southern division of the England Deaf Football League, losing all five games, whilst Black Country Deaf finished third in the four team northern division, winning two and drawing two of their six games.

On a mostly overcast but dry morning, with the game kicking off at 11, it very quickly became apparent that this would be a one sided contest, with Bristol having a shot cleared off the line with barely a minute on the clock. They laid siege to the Black Country goal after that, with numerous shots being saved, deflected wide or blocked, although in fairness, Black Country defended very well. Completely against the run of play, they opened the scoring with virtually their first attack of the game on 28 minutes. A ball was played low upfield and Godi Masiala outpaced the covering defender before slotting home low past the keeper. Their surprising lead was to only last for two minutes though, when a low cross in the six yard box was turned into his own net by a defender. Bristol then took the lead on 39 minutes with an interesting free kick routine. A queue of four players lined up behind the ball, the first three running over the ball before the fourth drilled the ball into the net from just outside the area. 2-1 was how it remained at half-time, a narrow lead that bore little reflection on the balance of play.

The second half saw Bristol finally convert their superiority into goals to really put Black Country to the sword. They scored their third on 53 minutes, another inventive free kick routine eventually saw a powerful shot parried by the keeper, only for Harry Potter to lash the ball high into the net. On 68 minutes it was 4-1 to Bristol when Ben Martin lashed home after the defence failed to clear the ball, and a minute later Black Country's task pretty much became mission impossible when they had Steve Richardson sent off for a foul as the last man. Bristol went 5-1 up on 73 minutes when Ben Martin curled a shot through a mass of players when the ball broke to him following a free kick, and the scoreline became 6-1 three minutes later when Frankie Vaughan threaded a low shot just inside the post from the edge of the area. Black Country had a shot on goal on 80 minutes, albeit a fluke shot, with a block tackle close to the half way line cannoning towards the goal and the keeper only just managed to tip the ball over the bar. On 82 minutes, Bristol made it 7-1, Potter dribbling from deep towards goal before poking the ball past the keeper, and on 89 minutes, Bristol scored their eighth, when a free kick was floated goalwards and Russell Silsbury-Basey helped the ball on its way with a faint flicked header into the net. In the last minute, Black Country scored their second of the game, Harry Skinner shooting home from a very tight angle inside the near post following a corner. But it was a thoroughly emphatic and deserved victory for Bristol following a game that was rather slow paced but played in good spirits throughout, and credit to Black Country who battled gamely and showed good sportsmanship throughout.

Video highlights of this game can be found here

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