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Monday 7th May 2012 ko 2.30pm

North Berkshire League Charity Cup Final

ARDINGTON & LOCKINGE 0 James sent off 70 violent conduct

BERINSFIELD 2 (Ingram 40 Saunders 74)

Att 195 (h/c)

@Abingdon United FC

Entry and (8 page) Programme £3

It’s only about a mile from Abington Town to United, so I was in plenty of time for this one. In the car park I found a salutary reminder of the fact that no-one remembers a loser, a discarded runners up memento from the previous day’s Upper Thames Valley League Alan Alder Memorial Trophy.

If Abingdon Town has the cover, then United have both the clubhouse and the pitch. With only two areas of cover and a crowd over double that of my morning game, it was fortunate that the rain ceased, and the crowd could make use of all of the surround.

As is always the case, the committee was there en masse; why can’t other leagues do that for their blue riband events, and I witnessed the high levels of administrative efficiency as they made sure each player’s name did correspond to the number they were wearing.

And while all this was happening one person cut a nervous figure. Whilst Berinsfield’s AJ Stockford oozed confidence, club secretary Jackie Cullen paced nervously. Before the game, she kept busy putting up red and black balloons, during it she powerwalked round and round the pitch. So many finals, so many miles covered.

The game saw Berinsfield take on another Division 2 outfit more than capable of scoring goals. Ardington & Lockinge may be better known for racehorses, but they’re making their way back up the NBFL after spell away from the league. They made the brighter start too, Jonny James’ cross-cum-shot took a slight deflection and hit the bar. Berinsfield hit back as David Murphy fired  just over the bar after his intial effort was blocked by Ardington keeper Andrew Burt.

And as the half wore on Berinsfield worked out what would work for them. Captain Mark Ingram got an iron grip in midfield, and he fed AJ Stockford on the right who regularly outpaced his marker Ian Marshall. However, it was a different combination that created the opener. Brian Rawlings’ glorious cushioned lob bisected the Ardington defence and Ingram headed in, running through for a goal that would grace any stadium.

After the break Berinsfield made a fast start with Chris Murphy’s low drive grazed a post before the normally prolific David Murphy beat the offsite-trap to toe-poke the ball towards the goal. Burt somehow stretched behind to claw the ball away  then smother the loose ball just as Stockford was about to pounce. All the while Jackie paced…..

Although Berinsfield were very much in the ascendancy at 1-0 anything could have happened. The pivotal moment cam on 70 minutes when Jonny James chased a through ball, hugging the right touchline. He received close attention from Mark Ingram who shepherded him over the line none too gently. James’ reaction was to swing a punch at him. That missed, but it was not lost on either referee John Barlow, or linesman Adam Dewar, and James quickly was dismissed.

Luke Saunders replaced an exhausted Stockford and within 5 minutes he got Berinsfield’s winner. Again it was Rawlings who was the provider, his cross taking a slight deflection before finding Saunders who prodded the ball past a beaten Burt. The same combination saw Saunders’ bullet header hit the crossbar, before Burt saved brilliantly as Shane Harris followed up.

So the third trophy of the season, and as the final whistle went, the fans cheered, the players hugged, and Jackie finally stopped walking. She’ll have to go through it all again though, its the League Cup final. Same time same place, would you bet against Berinsfield making it 4?

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