Cribbs Challenge Trophy Winners 2019

Cribbs overcome Bishops Cleeve in Challenge Trophy Final

Jim’s joy as Cribbs clinch maiden county cup win with victory over Bishop’s Cleeve

Jim’s joy as Cribbs clinch maiden county cup win with victory over Bishop’s Cleeve

CRIBBS assistant manager Jim Williams voiced his delight after witnessing the club’s first team register a first-ever county cup success with Thursday’s GFA Challenge Trophy final victory over battling Bishop’s Cleeve, reports Simon Parkinson.

The Lawns fliers had to do it the hard way too, via an enthralling penalty shoot-out scenario, after they and their north Gloucestershire opponents had completed 90 relatively even minutes in 2-2 deadlock on the Oaklands Park 3G.

George Kellow’s brilliant free-kick had handed Cribbs a deserved 18th-minute lead, but it was one they were unable to capitalise on as Bishop’s Cleeve slowly clawed their way back into the contest to lead 2-1 at the break through Adam Mace’s fierce deflected free-kick and Michael Rose’s powerful looping header.

In a nip-and-tuck second half Cribbs eventually tied it up again with Sol Wanjau-Smith’s searing 73rd-minute strike before going on to celebrate 8-7 shoot-out joy after Cribbs’ young keeper Archie Watts produced three superb penalty saves.

With Cribbs boss Tony Beecham absent for the occasion, it was left to his trusty No.2 Williams to beam: “It was all very pleasing. We always say cup finals are for the players and that these opportunities don’t come around very often. You have to make the most of them when they do.

“We always knew it wouldn’t be easy coming into it as Bishops’ Cleeve are a good and capable outfit, and their left-back (Adam Mace) had a very good game.

“As it turned out it was a pretty even affair played out on what is quite a draining pitch for the players.

“But we popped it about well, particularly at the start, and took the lead with a belter of a free-kick by George straight into the top bin.

“We seemed in control in that first half without really testing their keeper enough with the opportunities we had, so it was a bit surprising to come into half-time 2-1 down.

“That said we told the lads that it had been hard to find fault with them and that it was a case of Cleeve taking their few chances well.

“Thankfully we managed to get level with a good strike by Sol and go on and win it in the shoot-out where Archie, at only 17, was superb, especially with the save he made when they (Cleeve) had the chance to win.”

Williams insisted: “I feel that on balance we just about deserved it. Our form since the turn of the year has been very good.

“We’ve been playing well and a lot of that is down to the togetherness of the lads who have been performing as a proper team.”

Stand by for a full match report coming up here on the GFA website shortly.