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“Right sub and at the right time” proves to be the key moment for cup winners Brockworth Albion First  

Brockworth Albion First win GFA Senior Amateur Cup 2019/20 

The GFA Senior Amateur County Cup 2019/20 has been won by Brockworth Albion First. The rescheduled final was held at Cirencester’s Corinium Stadium on Tuesday 22 September and saw Brockworth prevail against Charfield First by a 2-1 scoreline. 

Brockworth found themselves in the final thanks to wins over Frampton United Reserves (3-1), Shortwood United FC Developments (0-4), Whitecroft First (0-6), Barnwood United First (2-1).  

While their opponents Charfield got past Upton St Leonards AFC First (4-4, 3-2 pen win), Lydney Town Reserves (2-1), Andoversford First (1-1, 3-2 pen win), Harrow Hill First (4-2) in reaching the final. 

A close scoreline suggesting a tight contest, but was manager Mark Mulraney ever in doubt about his team’s chances of winning this final? 

“Absolutely not to be honest, I know we are a strong team, I know we have it in us to win and to win well. We play brilliant football at times and I had a strong feeling we would win.  

We would have been favourites going into it, which isn’t easy and goes against you at times, but the lads and the management team got it all spot on during the night.” 

What did he think of the contest? Were there any key moments which stood out? 

“Our preparation was fantastic to be honest and we got or tactics right. I still can’t believe we didn’t score 4 or 5 goals certainly in the first half.  

There was a 15-minute spell in the second half- around 60mins- where we felt the pressure and the persistence of the opposition, they went for it, and threw everything at us. However, I was so pleased with how the lads stood tall and coped with the pressure and reacted.  

I was particularly happy that we chucked on Stan Brown when we did, it changed the game for us. He holds the ball up well and took the pressure off us, and then of course his goal was just fantastic. [I’m] Really pleased for him, but right sub and at the right time was a key moment for us." 

Mark went onto to credit “the unsung heroes”, his management team for their contributions in delivering the trophy to Brockworth. 

“Everyone plays their part. Phil Cooke particularly, he gave great tactical advice on the night and it really helped me make a few tweaks, certainly with the changes. [However] couldn’t do it without all of them though.” 

How does he feel to be crowned as champions? 

“It feels great! What a funny year it has been, the season abruptly coming to an end whilst we were in full swing and had momentum was devastating to all involved in the club.  

We didn’t know for a while if the cup final would ever happen or not, so to get the news it was and then to get there and play it was brilliant.  

We enjoyed the night thoroughly and regardless of the result we would have loved every minute of just being able to be there and soak it all up.  

I’m so happy to bring a cup to Brockworth, it has been a little while and to be honest we deserved it. The lads put in so much hard work and they finally got their reward.” 

What can fans expect looking forward to the season? 

“[The] target for us is to get out of this league [Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division 1], get promoted and kick on.  

It really is that straightforward. Nothing less than promotion will be accepted.” 

‘It feels fantastic’ says FC Lakeside Manager Warren Fitzgeorge

FC Lakeside Reserves crowned GFA Minor Cup North 2019-20 Champions

FC Lakeside Reserves are crowned Minor Cup (North) champions after overcoming Chalford AFC Thirds, 6-0. The rearranged 2019-20 final was settled on the 17th September at Corinium Stadium. 

The eventual winners overcame Cheltenham United First (9-3), Cashes Green First (3-1), Falcon Reserves (7-0), Soudley First (1-0) and Kingsway Rovers Reserves (6-3). While Chalford reached the final thanks to wins against, Cheltenham Civil Service (Saturday) Thirds (3-2), 303 Squadron First (4-2 pen shootout), Saintbridge First (2-1), Frampton United Thirds (1-0) and Longlevens Thirds (2-1). 

A score line which may suggest an easy game, was nothing but easy according to Manager Warren Fitzgeorge.

“It would be disrespectful to Chalford to say it was an easy game, as it wasn't.  

The first half was a really good footballing battle, end to end played at a high tempo and the only difference being, we took our chances.” 

Lakeside took an early lead in the third minute through Matty Pegrum and it was Pegrum’s edge of the box volley which extended the lead just before the half-time interval. 

The second half saw Lakeside add their third goal thanks to Cleo Hare (58’), with the final three goals came courtesy of Joseph Richards (penalty 79’), Matty Pegrum completing his hat-trick (86’) and captain Sam Smith-Hutchinson (89’). 

Warren believes his team’s fitness was another key deciding factor throughout the game.

“Our fitness levels carried us through and really shone through in the last 10 & 15 where we got the last 3 goals. Fitness is something the club has worked hard on through the pre-season and it did show towards the end.” 

As for the goals, he had this to say: “It is not often that each of the goals scored from open play were all pretty special, so I am glad we managed to entertain the spectators with those!” 

How does it feel to be crowned as Minor Cup Champions? 

“It feels fantastic and it was just the reward the team deserved for their performance last season. We were in with a chance of winning the league and 3 cup competitions and it was incredibly sad when the season was brought to an early end.  

We are grateful that the GFA decided to see out the County Cup and winning it has got the lads pumped up and confident to take this season head on and hopefully add more silverware.” 

What is the team’s target for the new season? 

“The management team's [Warren, Rich Webb and Martin Price] target for this season remains pretty much the same as the previous ones, 'to compete on as many fronts as possible'. 

There has been a slight reshuffle in the Cheltenham League, and we are now in Division 1 South so the oppositions will be tougher.  

The squad we have, have more than enough to deal with that and therefore winning the division would be the main aim.”

Maiden trophy ‘makes this victory even sweeter’ says AFC Cheltenham Secretary

AFC Cheltenham crowned 2019-20 Primary Cup (North) Champions 

AFC Cheltenham have been crowned Primary Cup champions after overcoming Lydney Town A’s 2-1 at Corinium Stadium on Tuesday 8th September.

Due to the coronavirus postponing all competitive and recreational football since March – the final was the first in a series of re-scheduled Gloucestershire FA County Cup Finals taking place this month.

Both teams found themselves in the final courtesy of victories over; AFC Cheltenham- Woodchester, First (walkover), Abbeymead Rovers Thirds (walkover), Stroud United First (5-1), Cashes Green Reserves (9-0) and Apperley First (7-0). 

While Lydney Town A won against Harrow Hill A (5-1), Cam Everside Wanderers First (2-1), Poulton First (2-1), Down Ampney First (2-1) and Bishop Cleeve Dev (5-2).

A tale of two halves, Lydney Town A started the brighter of the two teams, putting pressure on AFC Cheltenham all over the pitch and taking a deserved 1-nil lead going into the break. The half-time team-talk and tactical change saw the momentum swing in favour of AFC Cheltenham. Playing more attacking football by deploying two attacking midfielder’s, two fast attacking wingers and the forwards piling pressure on the Lydney backline resulted with the equaliser & winning goals being scored by Alex Ionut.

Jim Hughes, AFC Cheltenham manager was full of praise for his players after the final whistle. “Credit the AFC team for their resilience in the first half and their tenacity in the second half. During the half time break we knew we could turn the score around; we discussed as a team and changed the mindset for the second half. 

Once we started putting the pressure and got the momentum the goals came with two superbly worked movements brilliantly finished by our defender, Alex Ionut.”

Was he in any doubt about his team’s chance of winning the final? 

“I would love to say going into the game I was never in doubt that we would win but it's a cup final and I know anything could happen. But what I will say is I was extremely confident in our preparation, in our ability and our team. 

They worked hard in the pre-season training sessions and [during] the pre-season matches they always gave their all. Going into the cup final day, I knew they would not rest until the game was over whatever the result.”

Also, in attendance on the evening was owner, Alun Parry who shared his thoughts on the final.

Lydney were fantastic in the first half and they hounded us from the word go. We were made to look very ordinary and it affected the way we usually like to play. 

They were very threatening and deserved more than the one goal they scored.

The second half was a different story, we made a tactical change early in the second half and it made all the difference. 

We got the ball down, passed it around better and started to use the wings more. It resulted in us dominating the half and scoring two brilliant team goals both finished off by Alex [Ionut].”

The final postponed by six months due to COVID-19, how do both men feel now being crowned as Champions?

“It is always a fantastic feeling to be Champions or even reach the final of any cup or league. The delay due to COVID for me personally made the day and the result that much sweeter, we weren’t sure if we would get the chance to play the final and so when we did get that confirmation we went to work preparing. 

To get the result on the day was fantastic and well deserved. I am very proud of the squad they always work hard for me during training and especially on the field, so this cup and title of Champions is the fruit of their labour and they deserve nothing less.”

Alun enthusiastically added: “It feels fantastic to be Primary cup champions. It is fully deserved and recognition of the work the manager and players put in week in week out.  

It was not ideal having to wait 6 months between the semi-final and final but wholly understandable, we were just happy the GFA decided to play the finals. 

It is the club’s maiden winner’s trophy since we formed 10 years ago which makes this victory even sweeter.”

Both men will now be looking ahead to the 2020-21 League season with the aim of winning Division Three of the Cheltenham Football League.

“This season I would love to finish the actual season and my target as the manager is to finish the season as league champions. I intend to train in the same vein as pre-season- relentlessly- and give us the best possible chance of seeing that target become a reality.”

While Alun has his eyes set on adding more silverware. 

“We strive to win all competitions we are in. Pre-COVID last season we were on for the treble, so our aim is the same this coming season. Led by Jim our manager, we have a strong squad which we are incredibly proud of. I am not going over the top when I say there are not many teams that can live with us when we are on song, so we will always have lofty ambitions.”

AFC Cheltenham GFA Primary Cup North winners 2019-20 season

“We are back doing what we love” declares Goals Beyond Grass Development Manager 

PAN football returns to the Forest of the Dean 

PAN football has returned to the Forest of Dean. Goals Beyond Grass (GBG) will be delivering this format of football which is an ‘integration of disabilities to play in a single format of football which is then divided into ability banded football.’ The first couple of sessions were held on 15 September and 6 October at Dene Magna School.

While competitive grassroots football returned in early June, the disability format of the game has had to bide its time for its return. The sessions will involve recreational football, a mixture of skills-based practices and gameplay while based on being inclusive and enjoyable for all involved.

GBG Sports Development Manager, Kieran Franks told LFN what it means to have the sessions back up and running. 

“The return to this session is so significant for us. We are back doing what we love, delivering inclusive football to people who have disabilities around the county. 

We have been in touch with participants and we know they have been desperate to get back to the sessions, reducing social isolation and enabling them to have that regular commitment and structure within their week, where they can relax, be independent and play the beautiful game.”

Kieran went onto offer a brief explanation of the COVID-19 procedures in place, to reassure all those attending upcoming session. 

“We have social distancing in place where possible, sanitising stations on arrival, mid-session and end of the session where participants hand sanitise. 

All equipment is thoroughly cleaned before and after the session too. Track and Trace registers at each session. Players will not be able to attend if they have had covid-19 symptoms. Minimal sharing equipment within the sessions. The main priority is the safety of all involved, so we won’t be taking any unnecessary risks.”

The suspension of football in March has been felt by all, how has disability football dealt with the challenges of lockdown. Kieran explained how GBG have coped with suspension.

“Disability football has been challenged enormously during the pandemic and lockdown. Not only having to cancel sessions, but for us as an organisation we knew we had to adapt and reach out to our participants so we could support them through this process.

Our sessions not just this one, but all our powerchair and Frame sessions will continue to be challenged by the impact of the pandemic due to restrictions, mental health challenges, isolation and many participants being of high risk. So, going back to any kind of normality is that much tougher and involves more risk.”

What measures were adopted to help deal with the challenges?

“Over this period we have engaged with participants in various ways, and we have worked hard to look for some additional funding so our community clubs can rebrand and start the new season (whenever that may be) feeling prouder than ever that they have come through this pandemic.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming sessions, what can attendees expect?

“The PAN football team have recently rebranded, and we are currently searching for sponsorships to contribute towards the new kit. The team is now called the “Forest Boars” which was a name and identity chosen by the players.”

Forest Boars, PAN Football team in the Forest of Dean

Kieran shared the thoughts of one of the attendees after the first session back for the Boars. “My son and I enjoyed the session as we have missed football. We love playing the sport with our teammates and friends.”

The upcoming PAN football sessions dates are as following: 13th October, 20th October, 3rd November, 10th November, 17th November, 24th November – 5.30-6.30 PM at Dene Magna School, Abenhall Rd, Mitcheldean GL17 0DU.

If you are interested in attending PAN football in the Forest of Dean, or additionally a new Learning Disability and all-inclusive football session for Under 16 (also at Dene Magna School) contact GBG via info@goalsbeyondgrass.co.uk.

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