Tameside Schools’ F.A Primary Cup Finals
Monday 23rd May 2016 @ 12:14 by Mark Phillip

Beautiful sunshine and competitive skilful players greeted the Tameside Schools’ F.A. Primary Cup Finals which were held on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th May at St. Stephen’s R.C, Droylsden on a superb playing surface prepared by the site manager, Mr. Gary Allcock.

In the North Tameside (Holmes) Cup Final, Aldwyn (Audenshaw) played Hurst Knoll St. James’ C. of E. (Ashton-under-Lyne). In an even and scoreless first half, chances were created at both ends with the keepers comfortably dealing with any goal attempts.

Hurst Knoll started the second half strongly but didn’t get the breakthrough they needed. The stalemate was broken when an Aldwyn player shot and the ball deflected off a Hurst Knoll defender to allow Ralph Hall to score the opening goal. Aldwyn’s confidence grew and further goals came from Josh Kelly (2) and Sam Neild, leaving the final score 4-0 which didn’t really reflect the balance of play. To their credit, Hurst Knoll kept battling to the end.

The South Tameside (Kiley) Final brought two Denton schools together, Greswell and Denton West End who last met in the 2012-2013 final with DWE claiming the trophy. The referee, Trevor Massey, was a former Premiership official who also ran the line in the 2008 F.A. Cup Final. Greswell hoped to erase the memory of the previous cup defeat as well as losing their league fixture earlier in the season.

The game started in even fashion with both sides threatening to score, however it was Greswell who got the first goal as Harrison Stopford smartly finished his chance. The goal was crucial and Greswell grew in confidence creating numerous chances as the half progressed. However the crucial moment came in the 17th minute when Mason grabbed the crucial goal. Stopford’s shot was only parried by the keeper meaning the alert Bailey Mason tapped in from close range to put Greswell two goals to the good. The second half was a different story as Denton West End came out and camped in the Greswell half. Despite the best efforts, Greswell were cut open and keeper, Connor Smyth was helpless as Charlie Behan finished neatly. This encouraged Denton West End to go all out for the equaliser but the Greswell defence was resolute and deservedly won the match.

The first final on Friday, the Tameside (Millea) Supplementary Cup, which is the competition for one-form entry schools, was the pick of the finals with end to end action for the full forty minutes. Hurst Knoll were returning for their second final against St. John Fisher R.C., Haughton Green who had won their league, and hoping to go one better this time. They got straight into the match and were shooting from distance to test the S.J.F. keeper, Oliver Fell. Their pressure paid off when Jake Bradley scored with a strong shot. A substitution by S.J.F. brought them back into the game and a sweeping move just before half-time resulted in Taylor Riley putting the ball into the net. Both teams matched each other as the second half progressed and a surging run from the halfway line past three defenders gave Taylor Riley his second goal which was worthy of winning any match. Hurst Knoll responded strongly and, from a corner which the defence couldn’t clear, Liam Cuthbert brought Hurst Knoll level. With their tails up, a shot from distance by Liam Cuthbert sneaked into the corner of the net. With time running out, St. John Fisher pushed forward to get the equaliser, Hurst Knoll scored their fourth on the break from Wilson Ijiebor to deservedly win the Millea Cup for the first time.

The Heywood Final brought two of Tameside’s big guns together; St. Stephen’s R.C. (Droylsden) and Canon Burrows C. of E. (Ashton). St. Stephen’s who were playing on their home pitch soon got into their stride with a surging run down the wing by Johnson Opawale who crossed into the penalty area for Keane Joyce to score the opening goal. Shortly afterwards, Alex Leonard-Walker added a second. Canon Burrows battled away but just couldn’t get the break to put themselves back in contention. Only a number of superb saves from Canon Burrows keeper, Eluka Maduemezia kept the score to 2-0.

Three matches were superbly refereed by local referee, John Walton and were a credit to schools’ football in Tameside. Medals and trophies were presented by secretary, Donal Townson: treasurer, John Murphy and Child Welfare Officer, Kevin Connaghan.