Finchampstead FC manager Chris Payne praised his team and the fans following their win over Richings Park in the Thames Valley Premier League’s Berkshire Trophy Centre Senior Cup final. They completed a league and cup double with a 2-1 victory in extra time at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Payne said: “To do the double and win the league two years in a row is fantastic. We have a small squad, but we have play regularly, which is a good thing. I always felt comfortable we would win the game although they (Richings) were a threat right to the end.”
Payne and his players really appreciated the support they received for the final played on May 13. The team boss commented: “A lot of the club’s youth section were there – we also have a girls section now – and the atmosphere they created was outstanding; it was unbelievable. They got behind us so much; they made it a great occasion.”
A crowd of over 500 saw an entertaining game which was a good advertisement for the league. Finchampstead have won the league two years running but were pushed all the way by their Premier Division rivals, who finished fifth in the table, their highest ever placing. It was slightly against the run of play when Payne’s team took the lead after 17 minutes with Alex Woodhead scrambling the ball home, but Iver-based Richings were not behind for long, equalising just after the half-hour mark.
Both sides struck the woodwork and missed chances but as the game wore on, the league champions looked the more likely team to score with Richings also showing signs of tiring.
There were just five minutes of extra time remaining when Woodhead created the chance for Callum Vallance to fire a well-placed shot into the net to win the game and give his club their first win in the competition. Richings were left frustrated and at the final whistle, their keeper was shown the red card by referee Matthew Barrett. The trophy and medals were presented by the league’s long-serving treasurer, Margaret Wrigley.
To reach the final, Finchampstead defeated Henley Town, Imman Lions, Windlesham & Chobham and SB Phoenix, while Richings Park knocked out Tadley Calleva Reserves, Marlow United and Yateley.
Martin Law, the league’s chairman, passed on his thanks to Debbie and Andy Nutting of Berkshire Trophy Centre who have sponsored the cup competitions since 1990.
He also said this about Reading FC: “This is a special venue to hold a cup final. There cannot be many local leagues who can say they use a ground of this splendour for their final, and we are absolutely delighted to have this opportunity. I would like to thank Reading FC for their continued support.”
Finchampstead also provided the ball boys and girls for the final with Jude Hagan-Grenfell, Finn Sharp, Connie Brown, Melissa Dawson, Jack Bell, Ethan Hunter, Rhys Simpkins and Jayden Sturdy all on duty