09:54AM, Thursday 05 May 2022
Flackwell Heath's players have a great opportunity to put some 'silverware on the table' for their efforts this season, after reaching the final of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division Cup final.
The Heathens had to do it the hard way, travelling to an in-form Ardley United side on Saturday, but they battled to the final whistle and edged out their hosts thanks to a 92nd minute winner from Fabian Driffill.
Earlier Driffill had pounced on an Ardley error to fire Flackwell into a first half lead, but Ardley stepped up their efforts after the interval and, playing to their aerial strengths, eventually scored a deserved equaliser following a series of corner kicks.
Both sides could have won it in the closing stages, but it was Flackwell who booked their place in the final when Driffill reacted quickly when the ball was deflected to him in the area and volleyed the ball past the Ardley keeper.
Cue jubilant scenes on the pitch and the Flackwell bench as the timing of the goal left Ardley with next to no time to respond.
Reflecting on their semi-final success, Shone said: “It was an entertaining, proper cup game. Ardley are a very good side. We now have an opportunity to potentially put some silverware on the table which would be good.
“It was great to take the lead and deservedly so, we went in 1-0 ahead at half-time. But credit to Ardley in the second half, they know how to play that pitch and they came out on the front foot.
“They were the better side for a good 35 minutes of the second half and there’s only so many times you can defend set piece after set piece, one of them was going to count for them and that happened.
“But credit to the lads, they showed resilience and stepped it up again and came back from that set-back. We scored in the 92nd minute and there was no time left for them to reply. It was the best way to take the lead. Credit to the boys, there were stand out performances all around the team but collectively it was a very good display. Everyone that was involved was a credit to the club and we now look forward to what’s likely to be an entertaining final against Tring.”
The win sets up a final against Tring Athletic at Leverstock Green FC's ground on Thursday, May 12 and gives club a chance to win silverware in manager Chris Ayres and assistant Paul Shone's first season leading the side.
Tring defeated Hadley away from home on penalties in the other semi-final. The Heathen's success in the league cup follows an impressive league season, which saw the team rise from the lower reaches of the table to sixth after Ayres and Shone took over in October.
Shone added: “Tring are a very good side, we played them not so long ago at home (0-0). They’ve had a new manager come in and since he’s come in, he’s turned them around.
“They’re a bit like us, they’re a young side, energetic and they’ve got plenty of quality. We’re expecting a very tough final but also an entertaining one because they, like us, try to play the game in the right way. It’s one we’re looking forward to.
“If you look at Tring’s recent results and form it wasn’t such a surprise.
“There was no reason why they couldn’t go there and get a result, even if Hadley were the favourites. We’ve played Tring recently and they’re one of the better sides we’ve played this year for sure.
“ Others might think it’s a surprise because of the way Hadley have been playing and the run they’ve been on, but Tring are a side we think highly of and regard very well and their recent results show that.”
Paramedics were called to the scene of a medical emergency in Maidenhead on Monday morning (June 27).