Bradley 4 Coach Rangers 3

Saturday 16th June 2012
Bradley 4 Coach Rangers 3
Bill Redfern Memorial Cup Final
At: Osmaston Polo Ground
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: none
Weather: rain, sometimes heavy
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 45:04; second-half: 46:12

I felt very proud and honoured to present the trophies at the end of an exciting Bill Redfern Cup Final which holders Bradley won by the odd goal in seven. In the rain at Osmaston, Coach Rangers scored twice in three minutes around the quarter-hour mark through Callum Woolley and Mark Maznenko to open up what looked like a decisive lead. However, clinical finishing from James Rushby reduced the deficit shortly before the interval and Bradley equalised with an own goal not long after the restart. Karl Grocott put Bradley ahead for the first time but Carl Allen’s header got Coach back on level terms. It was Chris Rowe who scored what proved to be the winner for Bradley just before the hour mark who became the first side to retain this cup.

Summer League clubs contest four knock-out cups during the season (Peter Young, Bill Redfern, League and Wayne Tarbard) and this one honours Bill Redfern, one of the league’s founders who gave many years service before he passed away and played for Wyaston on very first night of fixtures in 1930.

I mentioned in my preview that Coach had lost the last two Bill Redfern finals on penalties and Bradley were looking to become the first side to retain the cup. In the league, Bradley topped the table though Coach would go top if they won all of their games in hand. So, it could be argued that tonight’s game could have been between the two sides at the top of the table had all fixtures been played.

The Omaston Polo Ground, which once hosted Central Midlands League football, is a familiar venue described in the past as the ‘“Wembley” for all Summer footballers’. The pitch was partly roped-off down each touchline with the elegant pavilion beyond the far end.

Considering all the rain that had fallen and dark clouds gathering to the west, it was somewhat pleasant for Coach Rangers (in yellow) to get the game underway, attacking the pavilion end in the first half.

Just before kick-off, I was joined by Dave ‘Veteran’ Woodings who provided good company during the first half before he returned to his car to watch the second half from a drier and more sensible position.

Both sides had a chance each during the opening quarter hour with James Rushby firing across the face of the Coach goal and Ian Godfrey curling a free-kick just over the Bradley bar.

The sunshine didn’t last and rain returned with vengence!

Callum Woolley has been a prolific scorer in this season’s Bill Redfern Cup and he found the net again in the 15th minute. Found by a deep from the left, he gave Bradley goalkeeper Alex Dowling no chance of keeping out a perfect header into the far side of the net.

It got even better for Coach two minutes later with a second goal. Mark Maznenko hooked a left-foot shot into the bottom-right corner just out of the reach of the diving Dowling. Brilliant for Coach and they looked set to win the Bill Redfern Cup at last.

At this point, with Coach on top, the lack of numbers of the back of some Bradley players wasn’t posing too much of a problem for me. Thankfully all the players had unique numbers on their shorts (hence the ‘x’ in the line-up below denoting a short number).

Coach continued to create chances and captain Jimmy Carter drove just over the bar. However, Coach goalkeeper Robert Redfern was called into action just before the half-hour to turn round a low shot from Karl Grocott at the expense of a corner.

In the 33rd minute, Dowling prevent Coach scoring a third goal by parrying a dipping volley from Woolley and a defender got in way of a Dan Frith’s follow-up shot from the rebound. The keeper also kept out another effort by Woolley a few minutes later.

Clinical finishing got Bradley back in the game in the 42nd minute. Unchallenged James Rushby sidefooted home a low cross from the right. On what was the first of several occasions, I was thankful for the nearby Bradley ‘bench’ for providing the name of the scorer.

Reflecting on the first half during the interval, I thought Coach deserved their lead and that Bradley hadn’t played well yet were only a goal behind.

Standing on the Bradley side of the ground to avoid having rain driving into my face and notebook, I overheard some of the team talk and the words said did the trick as the men in white levelled things up within five minutes of the restart. Maznenko and Grocott both went for a cross delivered from the left and the ball flew off the head of the defender into the net.

If losing their lead was bad enough for Coach, Bradley scored again four minutes later to edge ahead 3-2. Grocott hit a fantastic shot that flew into the net via the underside of the bar.

Coach weren’t finished and equalised in the 58th minute. Carl Allen got on the end of a right-wing cross and sent a downward header into the bottom left corner of Dowling’s net.

Amazingly, in this thrilling final, Bradley bounced back to regain the lead a minute later with what proved to be the winner. Richard Bailey’s initial shot was parried by Redfern and Chris Rowe slotted home from the rebound.

Coach threw men forward in search of an equaliser and twice almost got one around the 79th minute, as well as having both Sam Howard (pictured) and Carter booked. Dowling kept out a header from Woolley and, in the next attack, a Coach header was blocked on the line by a defender (sorry, no names because of the gloom). John Scott’s side then unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty after Maznenko went down inside the area.

During the closing stages, I was asked to present the trophies to the winners and runners-up – something that, as I said, made me feel proud and honoured. Thank you.

Bradley (white with blue and black diagonal stripe / white / white): 1. Alex Dowling, 6. Mike Twemlow, x7. Jay Twemlow, x9. Mark Sellers (capt), x10. Chris Rowe, 18. Richard Bailey, x8. Jez Oborn, 11. Tom Rushby, 16. Wayne Archer, 12. Karl Grocott, 10. James Rushby. Subs: 7. Steve Williams (for Grocott, 63), x. Nick Stubbs (not used).

Coach Rangers (yellow/black/black): 1. Robert Redfern, 16. Craig Richardson, 6. Paul Godfrey, 3. Carl Allen, 11. Sam Howard, 12. Jimmy Carter (capt), 7. Ian Godfrey, 14. Mark Maznenko, 8. Dan Frith, 9. Callum Woolley, 10. Sean Millward.

Referee: Chris Cope.
Assistants: Jim Conway and ???

1-0 Callum Woolley (15)
2-0 Mark Maznenko (17)
2-1 James Rushby (42)
2-2 Mark Maznenko (50 og)
3-2 Karl Grocott (54)
3-3 Carl Allen (58)
4-3 Chris Rowe (59)

Bradley: none
Coach: Sam Howard (YC, 76), Jimmy Carter (YC, 77)