Vics' bowed out of the Evo-Stik NPL Division One North promotion play-offs at Bamber Bridge last night; suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat after extra-time. Despite defeat, we made the final of the Cheshire F.A Senior Cup once again, and won the Mid-Cheshire Senior Challenge Cup trophy for a 16th time.
Tuesday 28th April 2015. COMPETITION - Evo-Stik NPL Division One North promotion play-off semi-final. VENUE - The Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Bamber Bridge.
LINE-UP'S - Bamber Bridge - Dovey, Mahoney, Lawlor (C), Muscat, Steel, Vasey, McKenna, Marlow (Thompson 108'), Waddecar, Green (Linney 108'), Macken (Pickup 79'). Un-used subs - Alexander, Samberg (GK).
Vics' - Deasy (C), Smalley, Clarke, Ali (Grayson 64'), Henry, Krou, Cook, Summerskill, Sanogo (caution) (Fishwick 108'), Amis (caution), Burnett (Bennett H/T). Un-used subs' - Smith (GK), Roddy.
GOALS - Bamber Bridge - Jon Macken 43', Regan Linney 115'. Vics' - Richie Bennett 74'.
Unavailable for Vics' - Danny Meadowcroft (hamstring), Iain Howard (away).
The opening stages of this promotion play-off semi-final was very cagey with both sides feeling each other out and little goal-mouth action. The first real attempt at either goal came on 11' when Ali Waddecar's low cross was diverted out by Mike Clarke and Stuart Vasey skewed a shot well wide of Vics' goal. Gary Burnett then made space for himself on 14', Matt Lawlor deflected his goal-bound shot out for a corner and Brian Sumerskill's rocket shot from 15 yards hit the post from game-star Stuart Cook's subsequent corner. Vics' were now playing the better football and at a high tempo, an Abou Sanogo piledriver was deflected out for a corner by Brig' full-back Danny Mahoney and Mike Clarke's flicked back-header from short range was saved miraculously from under his own cross-bar by Brig' game-star Lee Dovey on 19'. Josh Amis' header went just wide on 37' as Brig's threat was sporadic. The lead was taken by the home side on 43' however; Jon Macken with a free header across Tim Deasy at the far post from Darren Green's cross.
HALF-TIME - Bamber Bridge 1-0 Vics'.
The second half's opening 15 minutes was played at break-neck pace but no attempts of note by either side on goal. Vics' midfielder Cedric Krou sent a bullet header goal-wards from another fine Stuart Cook delivery on 62', the crowd gasped as Dovey somehow got across to his near post at the last second to divert the ball away for a corner via the thinnest of finger-tip touches. Brig' responded on 73' with a low shot by ex-Vics' forward Darren Green being comfortably fielded by Deasy. Vics' deservedly equalised on 74', when an excellent in-swinging cross by Chris Smalley that cut out all the Brig' defence and the so-far unbeatable Lee Dovey with ease; was slammed home into the net left-footed by sub' Richie Bennett 4 yards out but from a tight angle. It was a difficult chance but Bennett's finish was clinical. FULL-TIME - Brig' 1-1 Vics'.
PICTURED BELOW - Richie Bennett hauls Vics' level on 74 (top), wheels away in delight (middle), and is mobbed by team-mates Cedric Krou (No.6), Abou Sanogo (on floor), Josh Amis (red boots), Brian Summerskill (No.8) and Mike Clarke.
Extra-time - The first period passed off without much incident, although Vics' missed a great opportunity to take the lead on 98' when Josh Amis broke free from Brig' skipper Matt Lawlor on the left and shot left-footed straight at Dovey, when the better option was for a cut-back to the lurking, and un-marked Richie Bennett at the far post. Just before the end of the first period, Brigs' Chris Marlow fired across the face of goal with Deasy happy to let the low shot fizz past the far post. In the second period of E/T, Vics' pressed well and saw Summerskill's low drive go wide of Dovey in the Brig' goal on 107' and George Grayson shot just wide on the stretch from Richie Bennett's flick-on assist on 112'; only for Brig' sub' Regan Linney to find himself in space on 115' following a quick break-away on the right-hand side of the box after a cross by Stuart Vasey had found it's way across - and he fired in a low shot beyond Tim Deasy and into the far corner of the net. Vics' piled forward in a desperate bid to force a penalty shoot-out and it was not to be - but the team can still be proud of such a fine season, finishing in a promotion play-off position and making two cup final appearances; winning one of those.
Vics' M.O.M - Stuart Cook - prompted, probed and tireless for the full 120 minutes. At the hub of all Vics' creative attacks.
Match report & interview by Jamie Dewsbury.