It was an afternoon of triumph for Singh Sabha on Saturday 26th June as they claimed the East Berkshire Football League title for the first time, taking the honours on the turf of nearest rivals Britwell who themselves would have claimed the championship had the result been in their favour.
It was a warm day at the ‘Chicken Ranch’ and the significance of this final game of the season brought a crowd in excess of 200 on the sidelines. For much of a cagey first half however the only cheers and screams of excitement came from the adjacent Fun Fair in full flow as the two sides battled out an understandably tight affair.
The sides exchanged rather tame efforts on goal in the early stages. Harry Laflin got his shot away at the end of a flowing Sabha move before Christian cut inside and tested Manpreet Pooni in goal for the visitors. Just over halfway through the half Nausher Samra let fly for Singh Sabha and saw his tremendous effort bounce back off the post with Britwell ‘keeper Edmonds beaten.
A foul by Robinson on Mbarik Bashir earned Sabha a free-kick, from which centre-back Chan Sidhu stooped to nod the ball straight at Edmonds as the away side – requiring only the draw to take the title – dominated the opening half hour.
The hosts came back into this one in the closing stages of the half. Firstly a glancing Jeffrey header was routinely gathered by Pooni as Britwell forced successive corners before Sidhu was forced into a decisive piece of defending to thwart Tommy Attrell, son of former Slough Town and Maidenhead United legend Garry. Conrad Jones had the last say in the half for the leaders however as his free-kick whistled over the bar after Jovan Bains – so impressive at left back for Sabha – was felled on the edge of the area.
Goalless at half time, the game sparked into life around the hour mark. Firstly, a superb piece of defending by Robinson in the yellow and black denied Bashir after Joseph had dispossessed Britwell’s Welsford. Christian then responded, knocking a cute, quickly taken free-kick wide for the hosts with Pooni probably beaten. Edmonds then denied Karim Chaibi twice in a matter of moments, the second time with his feet before the Britwell ‘keeper was finally beaten by Ousman Lulastani. The Singh Sabha left winger had a magnificent match and he tucked the ball away decisively with an angled drive after the away side moved the ball seamlessly from right to left.
Sabha had one hand on the trophy, but that grip was loosened in the 67th minute. Referee Laurence Mills – who brilliantly refereed a match which was unsurprisingly keenly contested – spotted a handball in the area which saw the Singh Sabha transgressor sin-binned before Molloy rolled the penalty home, sending Pooni the wrong way.
Britwell themselves now chased the goal they needed to land the silverware against a temporarily depleted side. Their best chance came at the end of a brief period of head-tennis when Hartridge screwed an effort off target when well placed. Within sixty seconds Sabha moved ahead again. Karim Chaibi was put through on goal to score with aplomb and prompt a brief pitch invasion.
Deep into injury time gloss was put on the result. Conrad Joseph and Omar Riaz linked up to release Bains to score a well-deserved goal and a matter of minutes later the Sabha squad were handed the Trophy on the pitch at full time by League Fixtures Secretary Rob Stevens.
More about the two sides: