Apologies for the photo - that's what happens when you forget your camera and have to rely on your phone camera!!
It was nearly 10 years to the day that the Vets last won the Surrey Cup beating Reigate Priory Vets in extra time. Whilst the team has changed during that period there were still 2 members of that successful team, who won the competition 3 times running, on duty again tonight. They were Lee Benham and Mark Bradford.
Last year we also met Livingston RARA in the final and went down 2-0 in a one sided affair where we only just managed to hang on to respectability.
This year with 5 new playersâ€™ manager Bradford approached the final with a tactical plan that worked well on the night. Starting with 5 across midfield with 1 up front the plan was to stifle the running and passing game of Livingston RARA.
The game started much as expected with Livingston enjoying the majority of possession. Early on we conceded a soft free kick just outside the 18 yard box. Livingston produced a weak shot which somehow managed to go through Tony Holtby and find the net. An uncharacteristic error from a goalkeeper who has been so commanding over the years.
For a short while heads dropped and it did not bode well for the final outcome. However, we got stronger and got our self discipline and belief back as the game progressed.
Playing on the break we equalised with the last "kick" of the first half. A deep free kick from Ashbourne was headed back across goal into the far corner by Ian Clements. Half time 1-1 and we are very much back in the game.
The 2nd half started much as the 1st had finished with Warlingham frustrating the Livingston attack and stopping them making progress in our final third. Again we played on the break and when a poor clearance from the Livingston goalkeeper found Ian Clements he finished with power and style and we went 2-1 in front.
The half continued with Warlingham competing strongly across midfield and standing firm at the back. Remfry was replaced and Payne came on up front. Ian Clements dropped back in midfield to continue the fight where Courtman, Bob Clements and Wilson had been outstanding. At the back Paul Doherty was having the game of his life and together with Nichols was cutting off the Livingston wide supply line leaving them knocking hopeful balls into the box which invariably found the head of either Bell or Ashbourne. Ashbourne in particular seemed to be like a magnet for their crosses. Wherever they put them his head was there to clear.
With 10 minutes to go the ball dropped on the edge of the box and Courtman missed his initial clearance. As he turned to clear again he only managed to find the bottom corner of the net with Holtby helpless.
Livingston, who had barely managed to create a decent chance were now on level terms with both their goals being created by Warlingham errors. Courtman was beside himself and spent the next 10 minutes apologising to his overworked team mates.
So for the second time in as much as a week we went into extra time, this time at 2-2.
The game carried on little changed with Livingston becoming increasingly frustrated by their failure to break down the resolute Warlingham rear guard.
In the second period of extra time Warlingham crossed the ball hopefully into space and from nowhere up popped Courtman to lob the stranded Livingston keeper - sweet redemption!! The boys went wild and celebrated like some over paid Premiership super stars although they quickly realised they had little time or energy to waste as Livingston were still very much in the game.
Livingston's frustration boiled over and following an innocuous foul by Bob Clements their No 2 managed to get himself sent off for a second yellow card. Livingston seemed to see the writing on the wall and Warlingham sore out the game to claim the Cup once again.
Your reporter found it very difficult to pick out 1 particular individual as this was a fantastic team effort. Ashbourne was immense at the back. Ian Clements took his chances with aplomb. Courtman, after giving away a terrible own goal at the worst possible time showed great character in scoring the winner. Bob Clements was everywhere, holding up play and creating chances. He made the pass of the night, only for brother Ian to miss by inches. Every player across the squad had a marvelous night but I have to pick a Man of the Match.
That could only be Paul Doherty. He had an outstanding game. His strength, speed and sheer will be win in every challenge stood him out above anybody else on the field. Rarely in a long career can he have been as commanding as he was on this night. At the end he was so tired he could hardly speak - simply fantastic.
SURREY CUP WINNERS 2008-2009 WARLINGHAM FC - CONGRATULATIONS
Holtby, Doherty, Nichols, Bell, Ashbourne, Clements(B), Courtman, Wilson, Remfry, Clements (I), Winn, Evans, Payne, Benham, Doherty (M)
Not forgetting Manager, Bradford and Coach and Physio, Dennis Winter.
I understand we also won the drinking competition afterwards which can only be described as another marathon!!