A double comeback, loads of character and a trophy in the bag

Maghull Reserves 3-2 Richmond Raith Rovers Mags  aet 90 minutes 1-1

Saturday 3rd May 2014 kick off 2pm

Maghull arrived at Villa Park, home of Ashville FC, for this Haworth & Gallagher Bowl Final. A venue, that has been the scene of many a heartbreak in cup encounters over the years ! The boys met at Maghull early, for breakfast and to take in the atmosphere of Cup Final day.
There is a special feeling about the club at the moment and although up against a team who had beaten them twice in the league and finished two places higher, that this was the year to lift the West Cheshire League bowl at the 4th visit to the final.

The first 20 minutes where tight with Richmond having the possession but Maghull looking to hit on the break. The first chance went to Richmond after 25 minutes, when their striker was in on goal and brought a great save from Liam Cannon. Straight away a good move by Maghull, put in striker Danny Rickets, who was unlucky to see his shot just clear the bar.

The rest of the first half was played out with defences on top. Tom Wharton was having a brilliant game at centre half, but Maghull needed it's quality attacking players to spark.

The 2nd half was the same pattern, with Richmond on the ball with Maghull looking to break on the counter attack. The Richmond pressure paid off after 55 minutes when a call for offside went unheard, a mellee culminated in a shot being saved by Cannon, the ball broke loose and was put away by the Richmond number 11 who was left in acres of space to drive home.

Within 5 minutes, the game was level. A one two on the edge of box put Rickets clear and a rash challenge by the keeper brought him down. Up stepped Mick McGinn, who was enjoying his banter with the fans on the line and dispatched the penalty. Then proceeded to run to the line tp tell his grandfather that he always scores!

Richmond were visibly shocked, by Maghulls quick response and began to lose their cool, but Maghull refused to lose theirs. The game changed on 70 minutes when Rickets, who ran the Richmond centre halves into the ground, raced onto a through ball and was going in on goal. The centre half was caught out as Rickets turned inside and brought him down. No option was left for the referee but to award a straight red card. The resulting free kick was a screamer, from McGinn, that was tipped over the bar by the keeper.
To their credit, Richmond, who are a talented side, regained their composure and you really couldn't tell who was a man down. With 10 minutes to go,McGinn went on a maizy run and looked to be brought down in the box. The appeals were waved away. Then he got through and was held by the defender. Another red card ? No ! This time the referee deemed a yellow card was sufficient.
Maghull, sensing victory, brought on 19yr old Jay Hooper, in place of Dave Hughes jnr, to try and add some more pace and width to the attack. But the full time whistle brought about extra time and a 1-1 scoreline.

Richmond, knowing they needed to take the sting out of Maghulls impetus, did so in the right fashion. They changed their forward line around, increased the tempo of their game and went for a knockout blow. Within 5 minutes of extra time they where ahead.A clever corner from the right,paid off and their number 10 headed home at the back post.

A blow to Maghull who had lost centre half Wharton to injury and introduced Ian Smith. During this spell, whilst trying to re-organise the back four, Richmond had the chance to settle the final. Their No 8 found himself in space in the box and with the crowd expecting the net to bulge, it was put over the bar.

In the second period of extra time Maghull introduced Adam Pieterson for McGinn. From now on, the final seemed to become the Jay Hooper show. Within 5 minutes, he had broken the offside trap and lobbed the advancing Richmond keeper to even the game up. Twice more, Hooper broke the offside trap and caused bedlam in the Richmond defensive ranks. And now, Maghull believed they could win the West Cheshire Bowl final. They now took full advantage of the extra man and swarmed all over Richmond. Though chances came, the goal would not and the dreaded penalty shootout loomed.

Hooper escaped the offside trap, once more, down the right. He looked up to find three Maghull players steaming into the box. A square ball eluded diving legs and found Adam Pieterson at the far post and he smashed home the winner. The massive Maghull following went crazy. Richmond,who must deserve credit for their football ability on the day, where done. The final whistle was not long in coming and the lads had shown great character in coming from behind, twice, to take the honours.

Huge congratulations to Dave Hughes and Steve Carrol on a great win. All the players were heroes on the day. But not forgetting those who didn't get on the pitch but have been part of this winning cup run. Kevin McCormick and Hal McHue along with injured Luke Rafferty and Mikey Cummins as well suspended Tony Hart. You do not win cup finals if you have not got a strong squad. Thanks also to Peter Nolan for guiding the side through the early rounds.

And a thank you to the officials, who performed to the highest of standards under the pressure of a final.

But mainly, thanks to everyone involved with Maghull Reserves. You did yourselves and the club proud, in a very entertaining final. Wish you would have just won 4-0 in normal time though. One day you lads will appreciate what it's like being here with me and the fans. It is bloody nerve racking.

WELL DONE, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU !!!

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