Tuesday 12th March 2003
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Cup Run Continues as Division 1 Falls to the Manics

The toughest game in the history of the club would be played this Sunday. Division 1 faced Division 3 in the Quarter Finals of the Gowrings Cup; Bracknell Manics would be up against the Finchampstead Reserves.

One of the best line-ups would be available for the first time this season, with the Manics slowly but surely coming out of their unfortunate injury crisis from the start of the season. James Robinson started in goal, with David Fenton left back, Ryan Millward and Tony Hemley as centre backs, and Glenn Evans would start for his first time for the Manics as right back. The left wing saw David Comper, with Elliott Fairs and Gary Sarney playing in the centre of the park, and Aaron Goddard would have his first start since back from injury. Paul Milner was re-united with Darren Dean up-front, both hungry for goals in this all-important cup match.

The Manics would kick the game off, but lost the ball with a long ball in an attempt to put the pressure on Finchampstead Reserves from the start. After that, Finchampstead turned the tables around. Within the first two minutes they managed a shot on goal, the first wake up call. Finchampstead Reserves continued to pressure with a series of corners, and it was obvious the Manics were feeling a little nervous, and frustrated as their passing seemed under the normal standard.

2 minutes later, and there would be more pressure. This time the left wing was worked, but the Manics defended well to see the attack go out of danger for a goal kick.

Just when it seemed like Finchampstead Reserves could begin to cause problems, Elliott Fairs made a great run down the right wing to spur on the Manics, and push the team up the pitch. The fans were behind the team and just 2 minutes later after soaking up nearly 15 minutes of pressure, Manics had their first chance on goal.

David Comper picked up a bad pass by Finchampstead Reserves defender. Comper then beat the player and passed to Darren Dean. Dean put a through ball to Aaron Goddard, who shot, but great save by Finch's keeper denied the manics the first goal. The ball went out for a corner, and David Fenton took. The keeper saved and the ball went out for another corner. Comper took but a foul was committed on the keeper by Dean.

8 minutes had gone by and then the Finchampstead Reserves had another chance. A ball over the top of the Manics defence met the Finchampstead Reserves forward. The first shot was blocked by Fenton, but the ball came back out to another of the Finch's players who shot at a tight angle but across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.

Manics replied with a good attack down the right wing. One touch passing between Glenn Evans, Dean, and Goddard, and then a lofted cross into Paul Milner. The ball bounced but Milner was unlucky, heading wide of the post.

The next 15 minutes saw both teams play some great football, but on the 34th minute, Milner hit the crossbar. Fairs won a free header in midfield to Goddard, who put in another lofted cross to Milner. He took the ball neatly on his chest, and striked the ball on his right foot. It looked like it would go over, but the ball took a sudden dip on goal, before hitting the bar. More pressure followed, and Finchampstead Reserves conceded a corner. Millward rose, but the ball came off a defender and was cleared from danger.

Dean had a good chance just before the break. Milner's huge throw was on target for Dean, but he was also unlucky, heading the ball into the keeper's hands. The first half ended 0-0.

Finch went straight to work in the second half, but an ambitious shot went wide of goal. Then, soon after, Fenton conceded a free kick at the Manics corner flag. Finchampstead Reserves took, but Robinson claimed the ball with a great catch, and then sent the Manics off on a counter attack.

Manics had another good chance after 15 minutes of play. Milner put a ball over the top to the corner flag. Dean went off on a run to meet the ball and shoot from a tight angle, but again the keeper pulled a fine save to deny the Manics again. The ball came back out and Comper blasted the ball over the bar on his left foot.

One minute later and Finch had their best chance of the game. The Finchampstead Reserves substitute from half time put a volley over the bar, unmarked after a decent cross from the left wing.

5 minutes later and there was another chance for the Manics. A clearance from Ryan Millward fell to Milner who slid and crossed the ball into the box. The Finchampstead Reserves defender did well to put his foot to the ball and stop Goddard's attempt; forcing it over the bar for a goal kick.

Then Robinson made a fine save to keep the score level. Finchampstead Reserves worked the left wing and managed to put in a low cross. Finch attacked the cross at the near post, but Robinson's nerves of steel denied the Finch a goal.

After 35 minutes of play, Goddard could continue no more, and Eveleigh would come on in his place.

Two minutes later and Manics had their first free kick on goal after a foul on Gary Sarney. Fenton took, but it sailed over the bar. The final whistle blew, which meant this game would go to extra time.

The first half was well battled by both sides, with the Manics having the only chance. Fairs passed to Comper who ran down the wing and put in a low cross. Dean charged into the box, but couldn't reach the ball as it clipped his boot and went wide of goal.

The Manics went for the kill in the 2nd period of extra time. Within two minutes, Evans passed the ball over the top to Eveleigh who ran towards goal but was beaten to the ball by the keeper.

After 3 minutes, Dean closed down a back pass to the keeper. Finchampstead Reserves keeper cleared but the ball rebounded off of Darren only as far as Milner who drilled it back towards goal, but was unlucky for it to go wide.

6 minutes into play, and Manics had another chance. A poor clearance from the Finchampstead Reserves defender, and the ball fell to Hemley who passed a ball over the top to Dean. He chipped the ball over the keeper, which saw it go just wide of goal.

Soon after, Finch drilled a long shot from far out, also, wide of goal.

Then the magic came...

A huge clearance up field from Hemley was collected by Milner, who shrugged off the defender and passed to Comper. Milner ran on, and received a square ball back to him before firing at goal from 20 yards out. The shot was low and hard, and then fumbled by the keeper. Like a freight train, Milner steamed on towards goal, and hit it first time, past the keeper and into the net. A huge roar from the fans and the celebration was just as entertaining. But the hard work wasn't over yet.

Finch really pushed for the goal, and soon followed an offside decision to seal the match. A flick from a throw-on to the Finch's forward meant Fenton had to come from behind to make a tackle and the referee disallowed the goal, well spotted by the linesman.

Then the Manics had another chance. Milner played a great through ball to Eveleigh, but another save by the keeper saw it clip the inside of his right foot, and go out for a corner.
A long 2 minutes of injury time followed, and the Manics held the ball in the corner to the frustration of the Finchampstead Reserves players. The final whistle blew, and the result was 1-0 Manics with them into the Semi-Finals

A memorable win for the Manics this week! And now they advance to the Semi-Finals!!!

Well done to the Fans for this week's turnout, See you in the Semi's... One more win... one more win, and we'll be in the final...

 Final Result: Bracknell Manics 1 Finchampstead Reserves 0

 Man of the Match
   "The midfield battled hard and were insperational"
Tony Hemley  

 Next Week's Match: Dog & Partridge vs Bracknell Manics
 Ground: Victory Field

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