Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Nyetimber Pirates 1 v 1 Predators (aet)

Monday 4th May 2015
Malcolm Simmonds Cup Final
Predators win 5-4 on penalties
Mill Road, Arundel
Admission including Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
Match Rating: 4

After taking in one Sussex League cup final in the morning at Horsham, the temptation was to take in the other one, the Division Two cup final, taking place today. However, having visited Shoreham's Middle Road exactly a year ago, and it being rather unremarkable, I instead headed for a cup final taking place in the beautiful town of Arundel, at the attractive ground beneath a large castle that I had only visited once previously, in 2011.

Mill Road has not had any noticeable adjustments to it since my last visit, and so remains a ground that has some character about it, with no modern stands or similar boring constructions, and the castle still hovers high above the ground providing a spectacular backdrop. The 16 page programme was perfectly adequate, with pen pics and potted histories about both clubs, how both teams reached today's final and some history of the competition.

Open to clubs in the top two divisions of the West Sussex league, it was quite a feat that a second tier club, Nyetimber Pirates, had reached today's final, although they are assured of a top two finish and with it promotion to the Premier Division for next season, having won 12 and drawn six of their 20 games , and are level on points with second placed Petworth, both with two games left to play. Predators were in third place in the Premier Division, having won 13 and drawn one of their 18 games so far, and are three points behind second placed Cowfold with a game in hand. To reach today's final, Nyetimber Pirates beat Petworth 0-3 away, Cowfold 0-3 away, Stedham United 2-3 away and Premier Division champions elect 2-1 in the semi finals. Predators beat Upper Needing 0-3 away, West Chiltington on penalties after a 4-4 home draw, beat Lavant 7-6 at home and finally Lancing United 2-0 in the semi finals.

By the time I had arrived in Arundel, conditions had become overcast, and both teams traded good chances in the opening three minutes, forcing good saves from the keepers, but it was Predators who opened the scoring on 13 minutes, when the ball was lumped forward - a style of play that was to dominate throughout - and was headed on and Michael Woolston tapped the ball inside the post. The first half continued in a competitive fashion but with few clear goalscoring chances created, as the higher ranked Predators looked relatively comfortable with their narrow lead.

The second half continued much the same as the first, and Predators looked likely to hold on to lift the cup as Nyetimber Pirates looked less and less threatening as they seemed to tire, but five minutes from time, they managed to get back on level terms. The ball was hooked back across goal following a corner and James Fallick headed home from a central position. That really gave the Pirates a shot in the arm, as they suddenly looked more likely to win the game in the closing minutes.

They continued that momentum into the first period of extra time, although as time ticked by, the game became more even and penalties became the inevitable conclusion. With Nyetimber Pirates taking the first penalty, they missed their second penalty, saved by the keeper low to his left, and that turned out to be the only penalty that was not scored, and Predators win was confirmed by a wonderful penalty scored by their keeper into the top left hand corner. Predators probably deserved the win overall, although credit to the lower ranked opposition who put up a real fight.

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