The Smiths Junior League Cup Final proved a major disappointment to Wilderpark who slumped to a 4-2 reverse against Kingsdown Racers at Greatness Park.
Chris Esposito’s unexpected views and encouragement to his team mates in the dressing room after the game came at a very important time of the season. As always, substitute Steve Burgess was his usual vociferous self and an important part of the dressing room camaraderie .
There were numerous refereeing decisions that went against us and often due to the haranguing of Kingsdown Racers players, substitutes and vociferous spectators.
Whilst I will appreciate it is a question of opinion we did not play that badly and in spells we played particularly well when we had good movement and passed the ball accurately. At other times there were too many aerial balls which is not the way we like to play.
We got off to a bright start but then went behind in the 9th minute conceding a penalty which Racers gratefully accepted giving our keeper little chance of saving.
After an excellent period of well constructed attacks, on 24 minutes a diagonal ball from Leon Terry cross field to the excellent Alex David who chipped the ball into the net for the Park to draw level.
At the other end the Park were stretched at the back and Esposito was brought into a action saving a shot from close range. A high corner on the right by Damien Meade found Paul Bellringer but the full back shot wide.
This was followed by a Terry speculative shot from just outside the area and there was more good work down the right flank and a low cross into the six yard area which Andy Streeter just failed to get on the end of.
Just after the halfway mark the Park defence was split by quick movement which opened up a chance for Rovers but a shot cleared the crossbar. More good work followed by Freddie Payne and David and then Neil Cutts was shown the yellow card for a high dangerous tackle.
During a 6 minute period of time added on Racers went ahead following an attack down the left and a low diagonal shot which went into the net beyond the outstretched keeper.
Kingsdown Racers came out for the second half fired up and determined to get on top of the Park. Tor Osman replaced the injured Terry and took time to settle.
In the 52nd minute Racers went further ahead after good work down the right and a low shot into the net. Esposito made a brilliant save following a free kick and the Park were struggling to get into the game.
Alfie Smyth replaced Bellringer as the Park reverted to three at the back. Osman became more evident combining well with Payne who was brought down about 30 yards from goal. Payne took the free kick which soared over the crossbar.
Then there was controversy as a goal by Osman was at first given by the referee and then disallowed after player protests coupled with vociferous calls from the Racers spectators. Mark Taylor was booked for dissent.
Almost immediately Racers increased their lead following a long throw in and header which went beyond keeper Esposito and into the net. In an all action period the Park were awarded a penalty, the resultant spot kick being blazed over the crossbar by Streeter.
Paul Burgess replaced Meade and began to make his presence felt in midfield constantly probing as the Park strove to get back into the tie. At the same time Steve Henniker was a constant threat down the right.
A nice move between David, Osman and Smyth found Streeter who finished with aplomb to reduce the deficit.
Sadly it was too late and everyone was left downhearted in a tie when “Lady Luck” deserted them.