With Staines recently being crowned league champions, Shottermill & Haslemere were the underdogs going into the game. However, they saved their best performance of the season for when it mattered.
Starting with a 4-3-3 formation, Shottermill & Haslemere wanted to get the ball forward as quickly as possible to the talented front three of Zach Benstead, Tom Johnson and Ben Stokes.
The plan worked perfectly in the opening 20 minutes as Shottermill & Haslemere created many chances and took the lead through Benstead’s half volley.
Staines then grew into the game and started to have the better of possession. However, the Shottermill & Haslemere defence dealt with Staines’ threats and goalkeeper Jozef Cole didn’t have a notable save to make in the first half.
Staines pushed for an equaliser in the second half, but they struggled to find a breakthrough with Shottermill & Haslemere centre-halves Ricky and Alex Long dealing with the long-ball threat.
Eventually the equaliser arrived. A poor long pass was intercepted, and after a quick through ball Umran Sankoh beat the centre halves for pace and coolly slotted past Cole in goal.
Both sides pushed for a winner, but neither could find a winning goal in normal time as the final went to extra time.
With many players feeling the effects of the high-intensity game, Shottermill & Haslemere used their bench strength and used five substitutes.
Extra time produced end-to-end action without either keeper needing to pull off any big saves, with both defences holding firm.
With ten minutes remaining a clumsy challenge on substitute striker Damien Tutton saw him fouled in the box, and as the crowd held their breath, the referee blew to award a penalty.
Stokes stepped up and smashed the ball to the keeper’s left to make it 2-1 and set up a nervy final ten minutes.
Staines threw everyone forward in the hope of an equaliser, but couldn’t find a breakthrough.
With five minutes to go Sankoh received a second yellow card, which saw Staines go down to ten men. This allowed Shottermill & Haslemere to keep possession and run the clock down for a hard-earned, but deserved, victory. Captain Tom Bacon lifted the trophy in front of a large crowd.
Shottermill & Haslemere Reserves finished fifth in the league, just two points away from a top-three finish.