Saturday 23rd May 2009 ii

Ancaster Rovers 1 RHP Newark 5
Grantham and District League Memorial Cup Final
At: Ermine Street, Ancaster
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Attendance: 110
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration: first half: 47:31; second half: 48:16

After the afternoon fun and games, I was mightily pleased/relieved to arrive at Ancaster and spot players warming up, a full car park, including a couple of travellers who had been to Ruskington, and what I presume was the RHP Newark team coach parked close by. The weather was superb to boot as well!

The village of Ancaster is situated midway between Sleaford and Grantham on the A153 road at its junction with the B6403, the famous roman road called Ermine Street. Ancaster Rovers’ ground is on Ermine Street, on the right just before the Ermine Way pub when travelling north.

The entrance is through the car park into a large recreation ground with the football pitch running widthways immediately to the left. To the right of the entrance was the clubhouse and adjacent changing rooms. On the far side of the football pitch was a cricket square with a pitch prepared, may be, for a game tomorrow. The pitch was roped off only from the near corner to half-way where the respective benches had a roped off open air dugout.

I knew in advance there would be a programme and the four-pager (£1) was sold from the table at the entrance along with raffle tickets. I found a ‘party atmosphere’ with plenty of people milling around – I think Mrs and junior ‘iwf’ would have enjoyed the ‘party’ atmosphere. I also spotted several other travellers including ‘London Don’ and ‘Leatherhead Pete’. There were quite a few WAGs at the game as well.

The referee reckoned I had ‘an honest face’ so willingly lent me the teamsheets.

Both sides came out in fair play fashion and soon Ancaster (wearing red shirts, red shorts and white socks) got the final underway attacking the far end, defending the clubhouse end, in the first half. I opted to watch the first half from the near side like much of the crowd also did.

Some 22 points separated the two teams in the final Grantham and District League Premier Division table. Home side Ancaster (29 points from 26 games) finished eight out of the 14 teams while RHP Newark (51 points from 26 games) ended the league season in four places higher.

A mistake in the Ancaster defence allowed RHP Newark to get off to a perfect start. In the 4th minute, Rovers keeper Dan Blankley received a backpass and opted to play it short to Liam Warner instead of booting it upfield. Warner was played into trouble and quickly robbed by Daniel Wharton who took the ball into the area and fired low into the bottom right corner.

RHP Newark (wearing green shirts with white sleeves, green shorts and socks) were temporality reduced to ten men in the 17th minute when Joe Craven left the field for some eight minutes of treatment over on the far touchline. During Craven’s absence, Martin Maclean had Ancaster’s first attempt on goal, a 20-yard right foot volley that flashed past the right-hand post. RHP skipper was yellow carded in the 23rd minute for kicking the ball away not long after being lectured for dissent by the referee. Liam Warner also saw yellow for a foul on Aaron Martin just outside the Ancaster area.

The home side could have got back on level terms in the 39th minute, had it not been for a timely challenge by Tom Samuels. The defender prevented Steve Johnson from getting in a close-range shot from Maclean’s diagonal ball across goal to the far right post.

RHP finished the first half on the attack. Hiller and Martin both fired wide from outside the area. In stoppage time, Craven propelled a long throw from the left towards the near post where James Lloyd headed straight at Blankley.

Both sides went back to the changing rooms at the interval and RHP got the second half underway having replaced Craven with Tom O’Leary.

A well-worked move early in the second half almost lead to an equaliser. Ben Bland bust through the RHP defence down the middle and played the ball forward into the area. Johnson got on the end in the inside right channel and fired across the face of goal.

Martin became the third player to enter the book in the 56th minutes and the second for kicking the ball away.

RHP thought they’d doubled the lead in the 64th minute. Martin got on the end of a right wing cross and fired home via the near right-hand post, only to be thwarted by a raised flag for offside.

Of course, the goal would have settled the nerves of the travellers present with the prospect of extra time and penalties. I spent the second half over the far side next to the company of three other travellers, one of whom was a Hull City fan wondering if his side would avoid the drop from the Premiership tomorrow. We also joked about how many times we’d touched the ball and also about ‘Tram’ and his 0-0 draws!

Back to the action and amazingly, Ancaster’s Chappell became the third player to be booked for kicking the ball away. Lloyd got into a good position in front of the home goal only to fire a first-time shot over the bar.

Eventually the second goal came in the 73rd minute. Hales fired home at close range after Hillier’s initial shot was blocked.

RHP added a third goal 10 minutes later to seal victory. Blankley left his line and made a mess of dealing with a long clearance downfield, allowing Todd to nip in and slot into an empty net.

Ancaster reduced the deficit in the 86th minute when Maclean headed home from Leonard’s right-wing corner.

But any hope the home side had of somehow forcing extra time were ended by two further RHP goals in stoppage time, both scored by Martin. Hales forced a good save out of Blankley only for Martin to fire home the fourth from the loose ball and Martin, again, dribbled through into the area and slotted home the fifth.

RHP lifted the Memorial Cup and Martin was named adjudged Man of the Match.

Ancaster Rovers (red/red/white): 1. Dan Blankley, 2. Rob Alderson, 3. Matt Leonard, 4. Andy Atter (capt), 5. Liam Warner, 6. Aaron O’Brien, 7. James Ballaam, 8. Ben Bland, 9. Steve Johnson, 10. Martin Maclean, 11. Paul Chappell. Subs: 12. Jim Clough (for Johnson, 60), 14. Simon Callery (for Ballaam, 83), 15. Eddie Wilcox (for Chappell, 83), 16. Aaron Tasker (not used), 17. Anderson Dos Santos (not used).

RHP Newark (green with white sleeves / green / green): 1. Lewis Cawthorne, 2. Ben Hage, 3. Luke Hutchinson, 4. Tom Samuels, 5. Lee Campbell, 6. Joe Craven, 7. Daniel Hales, 8. Ian Hillier (capt), 9. Aaron Martin, 10. James Lloyd, 11. Daniel Wharton. Subs: 12. Tom O’Leary (for Craven, ht), 14. Ricky Todd (for Wharton, 78), 15. Nick Arins (not used), 16. Andy Beasley (not used), 17. Wayne Ord (for Lloyd, 83).

Referee: Robin Dungworth.
Assistants: John Aspland and Andrew Hearn.
Fourth Official: Steve Parr.

0-1 Daniel Wharton (4)
0-2 Daniel Hales (73)
0-3 Ricky Todd (83)
1-3 Martin Maclean (86)
1-4 Aaron Martin (90+2)
1-5 Aaron Martin (90+3)