By Sanjay Suri
South narrowly beat hill rivals Trevelyan on penalties to secure their first ever appearance in the men’s football Floodlit Cup final. With the score 2-2 after 90 minutes, substitute Spencer Taylor stepped up to convert the winning penalty, winning the shoot-out 4-2 and sending the South crowd into raptures.
Whilst the start of the match was a cagey, nervous affair, the crowd were far from quiet. The Trevs fans were making the majority of the noise, clad with banners, flags and vuvuzelas. Despite this, South started on the front foot, and were showing why they are one of the favourites to win this competition.
The first real chance came South’s way midway through the first half. Edward Chappell was able to generate some space down the left flank and put a dangerous ball into the box. After a half-clearance from the Trevs defence, South talisman Jack Gibbons slotted home from the edge of the box to give his side the lead.
Whilst the Trevs crowd were certainly passionate, they received a warning from their captain about the nature of their chants. After this however, there was no controversy. The match continued, and South continued to play fluid, dynamic football. It looked like it would require something special from Trevs to get back into the game.
And boy did they deliver. Ten minutes later, forward Alex Baptist played a ball across the South defence, reaching fellow striker Ollie Wilkes on the other side on the corner of the box. Wilkes showed no hesitation and struck the ball first time right into the top corner with power. South keeper Reuben Bull had absolutely no chance and Trevs were back on level terms.
It looked like we were heading into half-time all square, until Gibbons stepped up once more. Having played a neat one-two with Henry Day, he burst into the area and slotted just past Trevs goalie Harry Day, who got a touch but could not keep the ball out. South had a deserved lead at the break.
During the second half, the previously quiet South fans began to find their voice. Few chances were created, and it appeared as if the Owls would see this game out without too much trouble. However, conceding a free-kick around 25 yards out midway through the half would spell danger for South.
Baptist stood over it and whipped the ball right into the top corner. Once again, Bull was powerless and Trevs were showing their gutsy nature that had got them to the semi-finals, as well as the final last year.
As full-time and penalties loomed, both sides began chasing a win. Harry Day was solid between the sticks, with his commanding presence in the box stopping any potential chances for South. In fact, it was Trevs who had the best chances to win it at the death, with Baptist getting in behind a couple times, only to either be denied by Bull or a poor finish.
Keeping in line with Floodlit tradition, the match went straight to penalties. Bull managed to save the first two Trevs penalties, whilst South’s spot-kick takers made no mistake. Despite scoring their next two, Trevs could do nothing to stop the South juggernaut, who finished the shoot-out with a perfect record.
South will face favourites Collingwood in the final on the 15th of March, live on PalTV, but expect that match to be a nail-biter. The Owls have proven that they would be more than worthy winners, and certainly have the quality in their squad to take the game to Collingwood.
Ultimately it was disappointment for Trevs, who were denied a second successive final against Collingwood by the tightest of margins. Whilst South were the slightly better team on the night, the resilience shown by Trevs to come back from behind twice meant that they earned a tight affair and were unlucky to lose out at the death.
Image: Sanjay Suri