Regaining the Shield
Moss Side were crowned Robinsons Brewery Sunday Challenge Shield champions after seeing off Rifle in an entertaining final.
In a back and forth encounter, Ian Heath’s side demonstrated a tenacious attitude to come from behind and hold on to their lead in the face of determined opposition, who miss out for the second consecutive year.
Nathan Eastmond had given Paddy McGuirk’s side an early lead, but goals from Simon Yeo, Natt Kerr, an own goal from John Shaw and a brace from Ashley Stott sealed the win, despite Osman Bushara giving Rifle a lifeline shortly after the interval.
However, Moss Side ensured victory with a competent display on a chilly night at Shawe View.
It was they who started the game brightest, coming close through Dom McHale’s 25 yard free-kick, before Yeo struck the post.
Moments later, however, Rifle drew first blood against the run of play. A superb diagonal ball saw Eastmond burst clear and, having held off the challenge of Shaquille Brown, squeeze his shot past goalkeeper Glens.
With the leaders looking comfortable, Moss Side found an equaliser on the counter-attack through Yeo, when he raced on to Kyle McGonigle’s flick on and lashed home to restore parity.
And with Moss Side growing in confidence, they took the lead. From a corner, Kerr was allowed to ghost in at the back post and prod home from close range. Stott then went close on the stroke of half-time, striking the inside of the post.
Rifle’s best chances of the half fell to Ryan Hobin and Joe Francis, with the former firing over when clean through on goal and the latter hitting a rebound over the bar from close range.
Moss Side began the second half the stronger of the two sides, and within three minutes they had increased their advantage.
Nico Richards controlled the ball on the left-hand side and, with plenty of space and time, sent in a cross that Rifle defender Shaw inadvertently steered into his own net.
McGuirk’s side had been forced to withstand mounting pressure and when they did eventually attack, they pulled a goal back.
Eastmond found space to produce an inviting cross from the right, and Osman Bushara was on hand to head home past Glens and give his side a chance.
The game reached a slight nadir, as both sides cancelled each other out but, with just under ten minutes remaining, Moss Side notched a crucial fourth goal to put the match beyond Rifle. McHale showed good feet to burst into the area and tee up Ashley Stott, who had a simple task of sweeping home from close range.
There was time for another for Moss Side, when Stott took advantage of an exposed net to lob home a fifth and seal the Robinsons Brewery Sunday Challenge Shield.
Written by Jordan Eyre