Avro left it late to snatch victory from Beechfield United and win this year’s Saturday Challenge Trophy at SportDirect.Com Park.
Despite Beechfield taking the lead through a well-taken Michael Leach strike early in the first half, Michael Barnes-Gott converted a penalty to equalise with just 10 minutes left on the clock, before the Avro captain kept his composure to score a late winner.
Both sides competed valiantly for the win, but Avro did just enough to ensure they lifted the trophy and avenge last year’s narrow defeat at the same stage.
The game was a cagey affair from the outset with both sides battling to dominate possession and ten minutes had elapsed before the first opportunity of the game was carved out. Gaz Wallis broke on the counter-attack and threaded through a fine ball for David Leach, but the striker’s effort was well blocked by keeper Avro keeper Jake Edwards.
That chance was to act as a precursor for the opening goal, as Beechfield struck against the run of play. Wallis was at the heart of the move once again, playing in the advancing Leach in the inside right channel and, after controlling a difficult ball, the winger showed good composure to strike low and hard into the corner.
Ten minutes before the interval, Avro were presented with their best chance to level. Kane Hickman teed up Barnes-Gott, and, after his effort was saved, Stewart couldn’t convert on the rebound from a tight angle.
Overturning the deficit
The half-time break provided both sides with a chance to regroup and Avro were the first to come close after the restart. Ryan Cook and defender Matthew Edge each chanced their arms from distance, but their efforts flew high and wide respectively.
Beechfield, on the other hand, struggled to fashion chances throughout the second half as they were made to hold firm against waves of Avro attack. A rare venture forward almost resulted in a second goal, however, when David Leach was again denied by Edwards, and Michael Leach was adjudged offside when he slotted home the rebound.
Avro’s perseverance was eventually rewarded when Rico Stewart was brought down in the area and referee Justin Bebbington pointed to the spot to give Avro a chance to restore parity. Barnes-Gott duly obliged, powering his penalty into the top corner to set up a tense finale.
The tension soon dispersed when, on the cusp of injury time, Avro found a late winner. Captain Stewart found a pocket of space in the area, turned and fired a superb effort into the far corner to secure the Robinsons Brewery Saturday Challenge Trophy.
Written by Jordan Eyre