Home   Sport   Article

MATCH REPORT: Extra-time heartbreak for Gym




MIDFIELD MAN: Ross Bailey holds off his marker. Picture: Ben Pooley
MIDFIELD MAN: Ross Bailey holds off his marker. Picture: Ben Pooley

FA SUNDAY CUP FINAL: Gym United 0 Hardwick FC 2 (after extra-time)

It was not to be for a spirited Gym United this afternoon as they missed out on becoming the first Suffolk side to get their hands on the FA Sunday Cup at Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United.

ROUTE BLOCKED: James Brame is denied by a sliding challenge. Picture: Ben Pooley
ROUTE BLOCKED: James Brame is denied by a sliding challenge. Picture: Ben Pooley

Gym had already made history by being the first ever club from the county to reach the final of the nation-wide competition, but in holders Hardwick FC they came up against a team with plenty of nous and ability - highlighted by the fact that a number of their players will be representing Stockton Town FC in the Buildbase FA Vase final at Wembley next month.

The early exchanges were rather cagey as both sides - lining up in 4-2-3-1 formations - were reluctant to give the other an inch.

When chances were created they largely went the way of Hardwick, with Gym skipper Nathan Clarke forced to make a last-ditch tackle in the 10th minute to thwart James Ward, before James Risbrough headed the resultant corner into the side netting.

Gym, meanwhile, were being let down by their final ball and on the two occasions opportunities did arise - free-kicks from 25 yards out in the 29th and 30th minute - both Max Melanson and Andrew Wood were off target.

FRONT FOOT: Jack Brame looks to launch an attack for Gym. Picture: Ben Pooley
FRONT FOOT: Jack Brame looks to launch an attack for Gym. Picture: Ben Pooley

Hardwick went closest to breaking the first-half stalemate three minutes later when Ward ghosted into the Gym penalty area, but from eight yards out he was denied by Duncan McAnally's sprawling save.

In contrast to the opening 45 minutes, Hardwick went on the front foot after the restart with Coleman planting a header straight into the hands of McAnally, while skipper Jamie Owens will have been disappointed with his back-post header that floated harmlessly over the top.

Hardwick continued to mount attacks and in the 71st minute Ward went for the spectacular with an overhead kick from 10 yards out, but McAnally was always behind it and held with ease.

Owens was next to be denied in the 80th minute - the Hardwick captain had two bites of the cherry but both attempts were blocked by some brave Gym defending.

And, when Owens did manage to get a clean shot away with 82 minutes on the clock, his bottom corner-bound strike was well turned away by McAnally's strong left hand.

It was backs-against-the-wall stuff at times, but to Gym's credit they stood firm, finding an answer to every question Hardwick posed of them.

That stubbornness meant their clean sheet remained intact, sending the encounter into extra-time and potentially penalties to find a winner.

However, spot kicks would not be required because in the 109th minute Gym's resistance was finally broken.

There seemed to be some miscommunication between McAnally and Clarke as the ball was swung in towards the near post.

With nobody taking command, the ball looped up and hit unfortunate Gym substitute Charlie Robinson, who inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net despite the best efforts of Stuart Walker on the line.

And the outcome was sealed six minutes from time when Matt Morton's cross-field pass put his fellow centre-back Clarke under pressure.

He duly surrendered possession and Hardwick broke in clinical fashion - Tom Coulthard squaring for Coleman, who had a simple finish from six yards out to secure the trophy for a second year running.

GYM: McAnally, Bond, Morton, Clarke (C), White (Walker 106), Bailey, Bolton (Robinson 75), Brame, Melanson, Call (Proctor 73), Wood



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More