Long Stratton beat FC Steamers 4-2 on penalties at TheFDC Sunday lunchtime, after the Wensum Print Sunday Junior Cup Final finished 3-3 in normal time.
With a fast-paced start, the opening minutes of the game were end to end with James Bemrose receiving an early booking for a late challenge.
Steamers came close when Cullum Gamble forced a big block after being played through with a perfectly weighted pass from George Diggens. Long Stratton nearly took the lead only moments later with a counter-attack lead by Chris Bartram that saw Stratton 3v2 in the final third, but Bemrose couldn’t get on the end of the final ball
Continuing in end to end play, Steamers broke the deadlock on the 20th minute when Diggens was played through by Brandon Pickess. The young forward beat the offside trap and rounded the keeper, before calmly slotting the ball into an empty net despite the Stratton defender’s best recovery efforts.
Bemrose forced Chris Brownbridge into a palmed save on 30 minutes and it looked as though Stephen Crowe might get a touch on the rebound, however the centre half was adjudged to have a high foot.
Moments later James Wheeler played Diggens through once again with a fantastic threaded pass, however the Assistant Referee this time raised his flag.
Stratton got the equaliser they were searching for on 34 minutes, when Sam Page beat Brownbridge to an aerial ball, the keeper left in no man’s land could only turn back to see the ball bounce into the net.
Brownbridge was called into action again when George MacRae and the lively Bemrose tussled for a touch in the 6-yard box, however the keeper managed to gather the ball and avert the danger.
Steamers nearly took the lead on the stroke of half time when Joshua Bull met corner first time which had to be cleared off the line. Shortly after Wheeler forced Aiden Way into a big save from a long-range effort. The Stratton keeper then calmly collected the resulting corner.
In first half stoppage time Steamers continued to pile on the pressure, with Captain Jake Mann delivering a great cross to Diggens whose header across goal had to be cleared away for a corner. Way stood tall and collected the ball in the air once again, distributing well to give Stratton one last attack in the last minute of stoppage time.
The south Norfolk outfit certainly made it count as Crowe came forward and delivered a long throw into the Steamers’ penalty area, which Bemrose had in his sights. The forward rose high and met the throw with a bullet header that Brownbridge could do nothing about, giving Stratton the lead at the break.
Half time – Long Stratton 2 – 1 FC Steamers
The second half started much similar to the first, fast paced and with a booking as Richard Brett found himself on a yellow card after putting in a strong late challenge on Bemrose.
However, Long Stratton extended their lead on 52 minutes when Sam Page turned provider, doing well to put a great ball across the six-yard box from the edge of the area that Bemrose could bundle over the line.
Steamers almost pulled one back on 60 minutes when Diggens put a great switch across the field to Mann who’s brilliant first touch beat the defender and put him one on one with the keeper. The winger was matched by Way who got down well to make a great save low to his left.
They continued to push and got their reward only moments later when Sam Grady met a free kick with an unbelievable header across goal from 12 yards out. Within the same minute Steamers found themselves on level terms as straight from the restart they regained possession and Diggens found himself through on goal once again. The forward hit the bar with his initial shot over the keeper, however continued his run and composed himself to volley the rebound home.
Momentum well and truly with the away side now, Stratton were defending deep and Steamers maintained their pressure. Brandon Pickess saw his header come off the crossbar after another corner, and Fionn Goodwin-Wright almost got away from the Stratton back line only for the Referee to call a foul on the forward.
Entering the last ten minutes of the game, Steamers were looking for the lead. Good work from Mann saw him beat two players before squaring to Barsouko who’s shot forced Way into another great save, the resulting corner was fired across the box and only needed a touch goalward, however fizzed out for a goal kick.
The long throw from Crowe caused problems for the Steamers back line once again, however Brownbridge was on hand to gather the Bemrose header. In the next minute Page won a free kick for Stratton 35 yards out. Bemrose struck it well, with the ball sailing toward the top right corner, however Brownbridge at full stretch was able to tip the shot over the bar.
Good work from Diggens saw a cross cleared, however Steamers were unable to convert the resulting corner. Stratton then countered quickly, but couldn’t find the break-through in the last meaningful attack of the game – with the final heading to spot kicks.
Despite being on the back foot for the majority of the second half, it was Long Stratton who kept their nerve from the spot, winning the shootout 4-2 with Bemrose scoring the final kick which would see his side lift the cup.
Final Score: Long Stratton 3 – 3 FC Steamers (Long Stratton win 4-2 on Penalties)
Long Stratton: Aiden Way, Joe Bush, Sam Fisher, Stephen Crowe, George MacRae, Christ Bartram, Sam Page, Wayne Bemrose, James Bemrose, Adam Race, Spencer Cawcutt.
Subs: Ewan Chamberlain, Callum Maloney, Tyler Riley, Ben Ling, Jack Grimsley.
FC Steamers: Christopher Brownbridge, Brandon Pickess, Sam Grady, Joshua Bull, Cullum Gamble, Bryn Hughes, Jake Mann ©, Ben Lemmon, George Diggens, Richard Brett and James Wheeler.
Subs: Aaron Perkins, Fionn Goodwin-Wright, Danny Barsoukou, Lee Jackson, Ash Davies.
Referee: Egidijus Amsiejus
Assistants: Harry Amey and Jaden Lister
Fourth Official: Ollie Sadd
Player of the Match: George Diggens
Photography: Cyan Fullbrook