Old Rutlishians ‘A’ 2-1 Weston Green
Surrey Lower Junior Cup Final
Monday 9th May 2005 at Molesey FC
Team: Stuart Bedford, Craig Lyle, Graham Winter (c), Piers Capper (Simon Hithersay), Tom Hughes, Simon Minihane, Steve Rowlands, Steve Nicola, Russell Nixon, Erol Yilmaz (Darren Knott), James Fenton Unused subs: Danny Poulter, Matt Payne, Pete Day
Manager: Erol Yilmaz Assistant Manager: Roland Heal
Scorers: Erol Yilmaz (20 mins), Simon Minihane (87 mins)
By Steve Nicola
Old Rutlishians ‘A’ showed tremendous character and desire to battle back from a goal down and win the Surrey Lower Junior Cup.
Erol Yilmaz’s troops were determined to become the first Ruts side to win a Surrey Cup but they got off to a terrible start when a mis-hit cross deceived keeper Stuart Bedford and flew into the net after just five minutes.
Weston Green naturally had their tails up and had a couple of half chances to add a second as they rained crosses into the Ruts penalty area.
Teams with less self belief and heart than the Ruts would’ve folded but they soon put the goal out of their minds and got to grips with their task, matching their physically superior opponents with as much gusto as they could muster as they fought and battled for every ball.
They came close to levelling when Piers Capper connected well with a volley from a corner but his effort flew wide and then Steve Rowlands almost scored with a clever header.
James Fenton was playing as a lone striker and his hard work and non-stop running gave the Weston back line a torrid time and the Ruts a good outlet. On 20 minutes he ran at the defence before slipping a clever square pass to Yilmaz who drew the keeper and slotted home the equaliser.
The game was back in the melting pot and on a rock hard pitch impossible to play attractive football on it was going to come down to who wanted it most.
The Ruts were now in the ascendency but their plans took a hit when Yilmaz was the recipient of a diabolical challenge which fractured his ankle. Darren Knott was an able replacement however and almost scored with his first touch when he hit a left foot volley over.
Moments before the break the Ruts had a glorious chance. Knott played a ball to Fenton who allowed it to run onto Steve Nicola on the edge of the area. He cut onto his right and played a superb pass across the six yard box for a lunging Fenton who was inches away from connecting and surely giving the Ruts a halftime lead.
The second period followed the same pattern as the first as every tackle was keenly contested and a few tasty challenges were being meted out by both sides. The ref was strict but fair and generally did well in testing conditions as both sets of players queried every decision vehemently.
Ruts centre back Tom Hughes had to be alert to clear off the line before Weston had their best chance of the match when their striker found himself clean through only to shoot over the bar when he should’ve at least tested Bedford.
The Ruts had opportunities too as Fenton and Russell Nixon shot wide before Nicola struck a low drive which the keeper kept out.
However this tight game turned on 70 minutes when a Weston player stamped on Hughes and was shown the red card. Despite the extra man and space the Ruts found it hard to break down Weston until the 87th minute. Rowlands – who was rock solid in central midfield before moving into the back four – played the ball up the left wing to Knott in acres of space. He cut onto his right foot and floated a wonderful cross to the back post where Minihane arrived just ahead of Fenton to nod home for 2-1 and send the Ruts players and supporters wild.
By now the wise old head of Simon Hithersay was on the pitch and he played a crucial part in organising the Ruts as Weston threw everyone forward. Unfortunately Weston lost their discipline and had a man sent off for kicking the ball at the Ruts dugout in an incident in which Ruts sub Matt Payne also saw red for his angry reaction.
And in the dying moments of the seven minutes injury time another Weston player got his marching orders as the ref finally lost patience with his persistent moaning.
The Ruts came through the nervy closing stages unscathed though to claim a famous victory that owed everything to character, determination and an excellent team spirit that has earnt them a deserved place in Old Ruts history.