By Kieran Moriarty
Aidan’s A produced an accomplished performance to edge past Collingwood A 2-0, sending them into an unlikely Floodlit Football Cup Final with Josephine Butler A. On a bitterly cold Wednesday night under the floodlights at Maiden Castle, both teams battled it out in a bitty hard-fought contest, in conditions unsuitable for the expansive football preferred by the two sides.
The semi-final started in scrappy fashion, with both teams guilty of sloppiness in possession. For a while, the error-strewn game could have passed for a match from any one of a number of divisions. The prize at stake clearly seemed to affect many players on the pitch. With the game reduced to a bruising midfield battle in which huge tackles were plentiful, there was little craft was on display.
The first significant chance of the game fell to Aidan’s. Tom Jones low drive took a wicked deflection off a trailing Collingwood leg and spun narrowly wide of the post. A few minutes later, Ben Cresswell had the game’s first gilt-edged opportunity. A high in-swinging free kick from the left-hand side, boosted by a timely gust of wintry wind, left the Collingwood goalkeeper in no man’s land. To Collngwood’s relief, the ball sailed just over for a goal kick.
However, the breakthrough would arrive a minute later and it would go to Aidan’s. A long throw from Ferdy Campbell caught the wind as it was launched into the area. Jamie Turney leapt highest in the box to finish with a deft reverse header on the stroke of half time.
Collingwood begun the second half determined to equalise promptly. Dillon Steele missed a good opportunity to level for Collingwood. After ghosting away from his marker, he was left with a free header with the goal at his mercy. To the dismay of Collingwood’s band of supporters, his header sailed over James Barlow’s crossbar.
After another lengthy lull in play in which both sides cancelled each other out, Aidan’s scored again to put breathing space between the two well-matched sides. Jones spun away from his defender and chipped a lovely through ball to the advancing Tom Hillard. His cutback was met by the onrushing Tom Jones, who rifled a shot into the bottom corner.
The second goal allowed Aidan’s sat back. Collingwood pressed but were unable to breakdown the resolute Aidan’s defence. In front of this backline, Collingwood also had to contend with the excellent Jamie Dunn, who was causing havoc in midfield.
The game petered out as a spectacle in the closing stages as both teams seem to accept the result and created few chances of note. The fulltime whistle signalled a historic victory for Aidan’s as they marched into the final.
Aidan’s take on Division 1 side Josephine Butler A on Wednesday 11th March (20:30 kick-off)
Photograph: Chris Dearnley