Finchampstead FC firsts have secured a first divisional title win since 2001/02 with a match to spare having seen off Richings Park in a thrilling Thames Valley Premier League clash at the weekend.
At the end of a dramatic week which saw Berks County – themselves Combined Counties League bound for 2021/22 – awarded a ‘walk-over’ three points against Wraysbury Village, Finch needed one victory from their final two matches to secure top spot. Anything less would see Berks County – with their superior goal-difference – crowned champions.
Finchampstead got the job done at the first attempt but were pushed all the way by the Buckinghamshire side, with hosts Richings Park determined to do their part to maintain the integrity of a competition which has done well to reach its conclusion at the end of such a difficult and frustrating season.
Finch – who were held to a 2-2 draw at Mortimer last time out – were on the back foot in the early stages. Goalkeeper Dom Jones expertly parried a well struck free-kick by the hosts onto a post before the title-chasers took a half time lead on the hour after the ball broke kindly for Joel Day to finish coolly.
Jones pushed another goal-bound effort behind for a corner before the break and it seemed that Finch had made the most of their goalkeeper’s sterling efforts with a picture-book second goal when Day headed home a superb Callum Vallance cross before the hour mark. Substitute Ethan Simons was put clean through on goal to slot home with aplomb with a quarter of an hour remaining and that seemed to be that.
Richings Park however had other ideas and Aaron Jones netted a brace inside the final ten minutes to make Finch sweat, the first a penalty kick awarded by referee Mr Guerin who controlled a well-contested physical battle superbly.
Deep into time added on, Richings Park had a scrambled attempt snuffed out and a corner at the death was cleared by Finch before Mr Guerin sounded his whistle to spark the celebrations for Chris Payne’s men.
Finch move onto an unassailable 59 points for the season, having suffered just two defeats from their 25 Thames Valley Premier League games played to date. The pressure is therefore off for next Saturday’s home fixture with Windlesham & Chobham and the club can celebrate bringing a league title home for the first time since their triumphant 2001/02 Hellenic League Division One East campaign under Steve McClurg.
Watch the moment Finch won the Championship below: