Manorcroft 0 Keens Park Rangers 3
Goals: Bulldog Bullen 2, Michael Wicherek 1
Man-of-the-match: Luke Simmonds
It is just as well the first team’s season ended with a dominant win over Manorcroft and back-to-back Premier League titles this week, as this particular correspondent has run out of superlatives.
Truly, this was a championship-winning performance. And as much as the hosts huffed and puffed in their efforts to overcome KPR they inevitably fell short against a side lacking any visible weakness. Leading from the back, so to speak, was Simmo who played with so much time and composure it appeared as if he’d gained control of The Matrix (c).
At the opposite end there was the irresistible Bulldog who broke his two-week lean spell by scoring early in the match. On the wings, Dan Way and Courage were proving a handful. And with Luke, Doug and Bruce completing the advanced guard, another goal was surely inevitable.
With space at a premium, it would take patience to break down the defence. This was accomplished on a number of occasions, but while Bulldog hit the post when sliding in at the far post it was a series of great saves that denied KPR a second until Luke threaded a terrific ball inside the centre back for Bulldog who took one touch before nonchalantly slotting the ball home with the outside of his right boot.
Confidence among the supporters was high, and it wasn’t misplaced as the second-half began positively. Indeed, Luke ought to have tested the keeper immediately had he not lost his footing. Nevertheless, the pressure was relentless and Bulldog was denied his hat-trick by the keeper. But as much as he’d deflected the ball onto the crossbar the rebound was nodded home by Courage only for a ridiculous flag for offside.
After last weeks trigger-happy flagging, there were plenty of grumbles among the supporters, but there was more to come as a total of three goals were disallowed under questionable circumstances. Frustrating, these did not ultimately matter, for KPR were in total control with keeper Kieran yelling “BRILLIANT!” each time an attempted attack was mopped up by Rob, Simmo, Ben and Woodsy.
In fact, so assured was the result manager Gary was able to swap Dan for the birthday boy Michael Wicherek relatively early on. An immediate threat, Michael had a few rehearsals until a searching ball from Woodsy at right back picked him out wide on the left. Clearly onside, Mickey skinned Woodsy’s opposite number prior to cutting in and slotting the ball in from a tight angle.
If the linesman threw his redundant flag down in frustration, everyone now knew the title was KPR’s. There was, however, plenty of time to go and Bulldog was denied his own version of Mickey’s goal by another great save before Gary brought on Josh and the club’s lucky charm Lucas.
Now it was Josh who was denied a goal after his snap shot was repelled by the keeper, but the loudest cheer was reserved for co-manager Nico Jnr who was brought on for the last ten minutes – despite cycling to Portsmouth the previous day to get ratted with his uncle Nico Snr and some of the KPR ‘retirees’.
A move that was always going to entertain the troops, Nico didn’t disappoint and he gave away two fouls and picked up a booking without touching the ball before the referee called time on a stellar season for the first team, and the club in general.
The celebrations on receiving the trophy were fulsome – and generously applauded by the hosts. It may have been a closer call this year. But few would argue this second title in as many years wasn’t deserved.
Congratulations to all involved on and off the field.