HOLLANDS AND BLAIR THUNDER VINTERS RANGERS
Following on from their unbeaten run and last week’s hard-fought victory against Snodland, Thunder strode out onto their home turf at Brompton with high hopes of winning the Autumn Tournament in this winner-takes-all final leg against Vinters Rangers.
A sprightly start saw some neat passing from the boys and strong battling on the wing from Fred Bullivant as an early, well-timed cross from Leo Pickett to Zach Tydeman paved the way for Blair’s first opportunity to nudge in front – stopped only by lightning reactions from Vinters’ keeper.
Oscar Colyer followed up soon after, piling on the pressure with a long range shot which threatened to steal an early lead.
But Vinters quickly retaliated with a swift attack which forced a vigilant Harry Lawrence out of his area - leaving Max Barwick in the box to valiantly pull Blair out of trouble. But the clean sheet was short-lived as Vinters seized the moment in a goalmouth scramble which saw the first goal bounce into the net in a rebound off Blair’s defence.
Vinters continued to command the pitch, stretching Blair defenders Ben Phillips and Franki Hillier to the limit and only a full-stretch fingertip nudge across the floor of the goalmouth from Harry prevented the gap from widening.
As the wind whipped around the pitch at half time, coach Lee made three substitutions, with Charlie Firth going to right midfield, Fin Langthorne coming into defence and Dexter Davis on the left wing.
But the changes did little to create opportunities for Blair as Vinters wasted no time getting stuck in with an early long shot sailing too close for comfort over the bar. This was followed up by a through shot 10 minutes later, deftly saved by Harry’s sharp actions.
Blair struggled to gain control and, when they did, their valiant efforts – a crafty back kick towards the goal from Charlie and a forceful lob from Zach after a fired-up run from Dexter – were consistently blocked by Vinters’ formidable defence.
Vinters’ dogged determination paid off shortly after when a corner ended with a well placed header into the top of the net. Blair were left looking defeated when two minutes later Vinters sealed the deal by nailing their third goal with a hopeful hoof catching the wind and sailing over Harry’s head.
Further substitutions saw Joe Watling take control of the right wing and Max Barwick return to defence, seeing off a further attempt with a blazing header.
A last ditch wing run from Dexter and Zach earned Blair a final corner and even a snap shot from Fin failed to make a dent before the final whistle, leaving Vinters with a victory and worthy winners of the tournament.
For the tournament as a whole, the boys should be really proud of themselves for acquitting themselves so well against, for the most part, teams from the league above.