22nd April 2023
Over 65s Reach WFLA National Cup Regional Final
Bury Relics Over 65’s played their Walking Football League Alliance National Cup Semi-final on a cool, overcast day in Heywood last Saturday. It was a High Noon showdown between 2 top teams, Kingsmaid and Relics, who had met only 2 days earlier in a league match which Kingsmaid had shaded 2-1
Although injury and holidays had limited selection options the Relics still had a quality line up on show. The squad was Gaz (GK), Pete Shev (Centre Back), Tex (Right Half), Alan (Left Half), John M (Centre Midfield) and Graham (Centre Forward) with Kieran both Manager and sub and John Wardle drafted in as Assistant Manager in case Kieran had to play.
Before the start the ref briefed the teams on the competition rules which differed from the normal league rules. Blue cards would be shown to players who had either 3 contact fouls or 3 running fouls with no penalty awards for accumulated team fouls. 20 minutes each way.
Kingsmaid started well, playing with a high intensity whilst testing the ref’s running boundaries, in stark contrast to the Relics who looked nervous and shaky. Kingsmaid had 3 shots in the first 4 minutes, utilising the tactic of knocking it long to their immensely skilful centre forward but limpet like defending by Pete Shev denied him the space to get enough power and accuracy to really test Gaz. However, the Relics started to get a foothold in the game as Graham and John looked to cut out the long pass up to their lone frontman making them go wide where Tex and Alan’s relentless pressing forced turnovers in possession.
Our first chance came when Graham intercepted a pass out from their goalie and blasted past the post on 7 minutes which gave us a much need confidence boost. After a nice team move on 9 minutes, Tex had a great shot which their custodian saved high to his right. The last good chance of the half fell to John on 13 minutes after good hold up play and lay off by Graham which just slid past the left post with the keeper beaten. The final 7 minutes of the opening period saw a chess game as both teams probed for openings against well drilled outfits with the major incidents being both John and their extremely mobile midfielder both picking up their second running fouls so now walking the tightrope of a Blue card. Overall, Kingsmaid had the better possession but we had the better chances as half time arrived.
The management duo went into action with Woggy giving the general team talk imploring them to give our man in possession an easy option and Kieran giving individual feedback to each player on what he wanted in the second half.
After the break Kingsmaid again started well with good pressure but a breakaway led to John rattling the post and, by extension, their belief. We began playing great football, having 4 good shots in the process, equally shared by Graham and John, and started dominating.
Then from our poorly taken corner Kingsmaid broke upfield and had a 2 v1 where they looked certain to score but Pete handled the situation Baresi-like, cutting out the final pass and knocking it back to Gaz. Normal service then resumed with more good interplay between Graham and John leading to another well driven shot from Graham flashing past the post.
On 37 minutes Tex delivered a beautifully struck diagonal crossfield pass from right to left which was magically dummied by John straight into Graham’s feet who controlled and turned first time leaving his marker for dead. He advanced on goal with a singular intent and just before the D he toe bunged it under the keeper’s despairing dive off the inside of the lefthand post and it just crossed the line before nestling in the sidenetting on the opposite side of the goal.
We had 3 minutes to see out the game which we did very effectively with Alan coming into his own closing down space all over the pitch. When the very impressive and consistent young ref blew the final whistle it was to the relief of all of us not to have to go into extra time.
A deserved victory against a stand out team in a match played in a sporting manner. All our players had great games but a wee special mention for Pete who never put a foot wrong throughout against a very dangerous opponent and Gaz who gave us the solid base and quick distribution to build from the back
So the Relics are through to the Regional Final which wll be played on Wed 26th April 2023 at Heywood. al spectators are welcome, so try to get down to supporrt the Relics.
Many thanks to Ian McK for the comprehensive report.