Cringleford Veterans vs Sprowston – The One Broker Veterans Cup Final
Harrod Sport Arena, 21.04.23, KO 7.45pm
Final Score: Cringleford Veterans 4 – 0 Sprowston
Cringleford cruised to victory in the One Broker Veterans Cup Final on Friday night with a brace from Ben Carver alongside goals from Shaun Wones and Kelvin Willimot.
Damage was done in the first half when Shaun Wones opened the scoring on four minutes and Ben Carver added a double before the break. Willimot fired home a cross from player of the match Wes Hoolahan in the late stages to seal the deal.
Cringleford started on the front foot instantly, and nearly took the lead in the opening seconds of the game when Ricky Forder shot produced a diving save from Andy Cranmer in the bottom left corner of the Sprowston goal.
Only moments later they would get the early advantage they were looking for with Forder involved again. He held up the ball and laid a nice pass out wide to Jordan Blyth who whipped in a dangerous cross from the left flank. Shaun Wones timed his run perfectly and connected with a glancing header before the keeper could react, putting Cringleford 1-0 up inside the first five minutes.
The game could have been even on the fifteen minute mark when a mistake from Lee Mason gave the ball to Graham Carr on the edge of the box, one touch and shot evaded the keeper but struck the post with the ball spinning agonisingly in front of the goal line before the Cringleford defence hacked it clear.
Half-way through the first half Sprowston’s efforts were undone as Cringleford doubled the lead. A defensive mix up saw the Sprowston back line stop when calling for a foul, as Referee Mark Shepstone waved play on, Forder struck straight at Cranmer but Ben Carver was in the right place to latch onto the rebound.
Cringleford’s dominance continued, as Carver scored his second of the night only five minutes later, when he fired low into the bottom left corner from the right hand side of the box.
In a rare attack from Sprowston, the away side enjoyed a moment or two of possession on the outside of the area. Adam Bellingham found himself with time and space to get a strike away, however sliced his strike over the bar.
On the stroke of half time it was almost four on two occasions, as a former Norwich link up saw Wes Hoolahan spin in the box and play through the onrushing Grant Holt. The veteran forward beat Cranmer to the ball and stabbed it across the face of goal, only for Blyth to blaze over from yards out.
A minute later a strike from Mason took a wicked deflection and looked destined for the top right corner, only for Cranmer to produce the acrobatics and keep the score to three at half time.
Half time – Cringleford Veterans 3 – 0 Sprowston
The second half started in a similar vain with Cringleford enjoying a large share of the possession and pushing into Sprowston territory. Hoolahan was switching between flanks and having a nice time on both, dancing through defenders and showing neat skill to create openings for his teammates.
Sprowston began to get some of the play back, and Lee Robins was enjoying a battle with Holt on the left side, with the former Norwich City player demonstrating good strength and experience when needed on a couple of occasions.
Cringleford began to turn the screw again as the game approached the hour mark. Substitute Daniel McKall drove a lovely cross back across the edge of the box and Gavin Lemmon fired low to the bottom left corner, producing the latest in a string of saves from Cranmer.
Half way through the second period, a great passing move from Hoolahan to Wones unlocked the Sprowston block and then a through ball to Tom Fitchew put him one on one with the keeper, but he fired into the legs of Cranmer.
Moments of action at either end became few and far between as the game approached its latter stages, with a lot of tired legs on the pitch and both teams ringing the changes via repeat substitutions. With under ten to go McKail found himself through on goal, only to see Cranmer produce a great stop with his feet. Blyth stormed into the area to strike the rebound, but couldn’t keep it on target as it clipped the post on the way out for a goal kick.
Cringleford quashed any hope of a late comeback with five to go, getting their fourth after the impressive Hoolahan beat two defenders and drove a low ball across the box for Kelvin Willimot to poke home first time.
The deflated Sprowston failed to muster much more in the away of attack in the final minutes and Cringleford maintained consistent possession as the Referee blew for full time.
Final Score: Cringleford Veterans 4 – 0 Sprowston
Cringleford Veterans: Scott Howie, Lee Mason, Jordan Blyth, Shaun Wones, Andy Eastaugh, Josh Carus, Gavin Lemmon ©, Wes Hoolahan, Ben Carver, Grant Holt, Ricky Forder.
Subs: Kelvin Willimot, Keith Sivier, Daniel McKail, Tom Fitchew, Simon Nicholl.
Sprowston: Andy Cranmer, Adam Bellingham, Adam Ferguson, Ben Gowing ©, Matthew Racher, Francing McLoughlin, Matt Eves, Graham Carr, Kelvin White, Major Thornton, Gary Howes.
Subs: Neil Wright, Daniel Bruce, Scott West, James Gross, Lee Robins.
Referee: Mark Shepstone
Assistants: Anthony Collins & Victor Petri
Fourth Official: Daniel Bird
Player of the Match: Wes Hoolahan