Ormer FC made their first trip to the Manchester Cup for a week-end of football over the Easter holiday and returned home victorious with a cup final success. With the sun shining and very little wind the Ormers found themselves draw in Group A with opposition ranging from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England and South Africa. The Guernsey contingent of the squad meet up with their fellow Ormers from the Isle of Wight on the eve of the tournament.
First up for the Ormers in the league section were the North Tipperary Youth League. In a rather nervy opening encounter the North Tipperary team were content for the Ormers to have the vast majority of the possession. Despite having the ascendency in terms of territory and possession the Ormers were unable to break down a resolute Irish defence in the opening stages.
However the opener did eventually come. The ball was worked from left to right across the Ormer midfield before a ball was worked into an area on the edge of the area. Evan Harris still had a lot to do as he wriggled past the intentions of two central defenders before unleashing a shot across the unsighted keeper and into thOre far corner. For the remainder of the game the Ormers controlled the tempo with Jack Hamon a distant spectator in the Ormer goal. Final score North Tipperary League 0 Ormer FC 1.
The second game of the group saw Ormer FC come up against Scottish club, Newmachar Youth from Aberdeen. The game followed a very similar pattern to the first with great defending by the Scots, ably assisted by some dynamic goal keeping. As the game wore on it was apparent that it would require something special to beat the Newmachar keeper and it duly arrived courtesy of a blistering drive from the edge of the area from the right boot of Lucca Toms.
Thereafter the Ormer were well marshalled by Jamie Smith and Jimmy Mumford to ensure that Newmachar would not be able to find a way back into the game. Final score Newmachar Youth 0 Ormer FC 1
With two wins in the bank the Ormers found themselves up against Spennymoor Town who had also won their first two games. In a very tight encounter, both defences showed their qualities in thwarting the best efforts of both attacks. From an Ormer perspective they fell into the trap of hitting high balls into the heart of the Spennymoor defence, which were easily dealt with by the physically commanding central defensive duo.
The best chance for Spennymoor in the first half, came from a series of slick passes which released their centre forward into the left side of the penalty area. His sharp first time strike towards the near post produced an excellent save from Hamon, who got down well to use a strong right hand to divert the shot for a corner.
The second half saw the Ormers come into the game producing a clear cut opportunity inside the Spennymoor box, however the near post strike from Evan Harris was dealt with by the keeper. There was also time for a Fin Smith header to narrowly slide past the far post. Ina tight and even contest the final score was Spennymoor Town 0 Ormer FC 0.
Saturday’s entertainment was concluded with Ormer taking on the previously unbeaten Llandudno Swifts. The ormers realised that a win in this game would go a long way towards overall qualification from the group. Despite the best efforts of Llandudno the Ormers were now hitting top gear and eased towards the top of the group with a confident display, supplemented with some lethal finishing.
A hat-trick from Fin Smith and a single strike from Evan Harris completed the scoring and ensured the ormers returned to their base in Eccles in high spirits. Final score Ormer FC 4 Llandudno Swifts 0.
After a good night’s rest the Ormers returned to action on Sunday afternoon to complete the league programme against Tetrabrazil Soccer Schools from South Africa. From the off the Ormers were quicker to the ball and consistently out manoeuvred the opposition. Goals came at regular intervals including a brace from Brandon Weysom. The second of which came from a fine long range pass from keeper Hamon into Weysom on the right wing, who burst past the last defender and finished with a fine chip over the stranded keeper.
Further goals from Fin Smith, Joe Adams after a mazy dribble through the Tetrabrazil defence and a fine finish from the edge of the area from Alex Roussel completed the scoring. Final score Ormer FC 5 Tetrabrazil 0.
After a fine league campaign, during which the Ormer didn’t concede a goal, they moved on to the semi-final to play Eastbourne Borough Academy. Ormer were very familiar with their latest opponent, whom they had played in last year’s London Cup semi-final. A chastening 3-0 defeat was still fresh in the memory and ensured that as a collective group they would give everything to put right last year’s defeat.
However it was Eastbourne who fashioned the first chance as their speedy forward sped into the box, but spurned the opening by dragging his shot wide of the far post. Thereafter the Ormers settled into the match and started to impose their own style of play on Eastbourne and take an early lead in the match. From the left side of midfield, Adams delivered a ball towards the Eastbourne box which initially was flicked on by Harris to the head of Fin Smith who nodded the ball into the path of Adam Voller, who had arrived unseen at the far post. His first time finish found the roof of the net and gave the Ormers a precious lead.
From that point onwards the game settled into a battle of wills as both teams put their bodies on the line to deny each other the opportunity to fashion a clear cut chance in front of goal. In a rather hostile environment, it should be noted that some of the smaller Ormer players, Raff Boyd-Kerr, Jamie Smith and Alex Roussel refused to be intimidated and took the battle to their physically imposing opponents.
It was testament to the hard working players in front of Hamon in the Ormer goal, that he had a rather uneventful time in goal and wasn’t called upon to make a save of note. After 35 pulsating minutes the referee brought the game to a close and the Ormers had earnt a well-deserved passage to the Manchester Cup Final. Final score Ormer FC 1 Eastbourne Borough 0.
Their opponents in the Manchester Cup final were Spennymoor Town, who Ormer had placed the day before in the league campaign. Spennymoor had edged past the SASFA District Central from South Africa on penalties in the other semi-final.
Once again there wasn’t much to choose between two well organised and competitive sides in the opening stages of the contest and it was clear that it would take something special or a mistake to break the deadlock.
Unfortunately it was the later for Ormer FC as disaster struck midway through the first half. Under no pressure Josh Duddy at the heart of the Ormer defence passed the ball back to Hamon in the Ormer goal. As Hamon checked his options right and left he momentarily took his eye off the ball as it bobbled over his out-stretched foot and rolled agonisingly into the back of the net. What a way to concede your first goal of the tournament!
This set back seemed to momentarily stun the Ormers as Jimmy Mumford was caught napping at the back as a forward whipped the ball off his toe, raced towards goal, rounded Hamon and seemed certain to score. However Mumford showed admirable determination to race back and clear the ball off the goal-line with an outstretched leg. The Ormers were somewhat fortunate to reach the break just the one goal down.
The half time team talk highlighted the errors of play balls into the Ormer forward line which were being devoured by the two rangy central defenders and the need to keep the ball on the floor and try to play around the defensive block. Within the first two minutes of the re-start the penny had dropped and the Ormers played a succession of quick passes which released Fin Smith on the right side of the pitch. Ashe sped into the box he showed great composure to roll the ball past the advancing Spennymoor keeper and into the net via the foot of the post.
It was now the Ormers on the front foot and in quick succession Adams fashioned two chances from driving midfield runs. From the first he shifted the ball on to his left foot and smashed a shot at goal, but the Spennymoor keeper showed excellent handling and gathered the ball. Seconds late he wasn’t as comfortable. This time Adams driving run took him to the edge of the area. This time his shot with his right foot cannoned off the base of the post and to safety.
Unfortunately neither side could fashion a chance in the closing moments and the referees whistle brought the game to a close and straight to penalties.
A tense and nervy penalty shoot-out ensued with the teams dead locked at 3-3 after 5 penalties each and so it moved on to sudden death. To the credit of players from both teams a huge degree of composure under pressure was on show. However Liam Mwamuka found himself as Ormers eleventh penalty taker and with nerves of steel he found the back of the net to edge the Ormers in front 8-7. It was now left to the keepers from both sides to face each other and it was Hamon in the Ormer goal who won the duel by flinging himself to the right to pull off the save.
Pandemonium and euphoria ensued as the Ormer squad dashed to meet their team mate who had atoned for his earlier error.
A fantastic week-end of football, during which the players displayed admirable skill and resilience. The Ormers now look forward to their next venture in June, playing in the ACES Nationals.