Bridgewood High 4–3 Stanford Park Academy
With the top spot and promotion in sight, Bridgewood gave everything they had in an explosive conclusion to the season.
The atmosphere was electric as the fired-up players of Bridgewood High and Stanford Park ran onto the pitch. With both teams at full strength, the match was guaranteed to be exciting and the tension was felt by both teams.
The first fifteen minutes was peppered with elementary mistakes due to nervousness, none of which led to either side conceding a goal. Captain Charlie Oakley was called upon by Mr Mansell to steady his side, which seemed to work, as Bridgewood became the first team to enjoy a spell of possession. Stanford could not get the ball back and several desperate tackles led to free kicks being awarded against them. An infringement on the edge of the eighteen-yard box meant that Salam Chalabi tried one of his curling free kicks, bending the ball around the wall. The keeper didn’t see it coming and Bridgewood took the lead, much to the delight of the cheering crowd.
Minutes later, George Lucas powered a twenty-five yard drive that crashed its way through the keeper’s hands. Just as Bridgewood were daring to dream about winning the league, the quality of Stanford Park shone through. A five-player move ended up with their striker, Jovan Maliqi, bringing the ball down on his chest and volleying into the top right hand corner.
Immediately after the goal, Maliqi left Houghton-Smith on his backside with a swift turn and gave Dominic Jasinski no chance with a clever tap-in. Bridgewood had squandered a two goal lead again.
During the second half, George Lucas was on fire. With ten minutes played, he was given a clear goal scoring opportunity when Duc Duong delivered an accurate pass to him just outside the eighteen-yard box. Lucas coolly connected with the ball on the half volley causing it to rocket past the rooted Stanford goalkeeper.
Bridgewood’s celebrations were short-lived. After the restart Stanford were awarded a free kick. A powerful header from a set piece move levelled the scores again.
With time running out, Angelo Del Paggio went on a solo run to the edge of the eighteen-yard box, where he put his foot on the ball and stopped. His marker slid to the ground and Del Paggio dug under the ball, causing it to rotate up and over the keeper’s outstretched arms and into the goal. The final whistle blew sharply, securing a 4–3 win and the title championship for an ecstatic Bridgewood High FC.
Mr Mansell reporting from Stanford Park Academy