FC Team reached the final of the London FA Cup for the first time after beating AFC Mottingham.
In what manager Mitch Young described as the biggest match in the club’s history, Team were up against a the reigning Bromley & District League Premier champions. The south-east London outfit went into the game harbouring interests in five competition, amounting to a 26-match unbeaten run.
Team knew they were in for a tough afternoon and had to be at their very best in order to progress. Young had an almost fully fit squad to choose from however, a last-minute change saw Ollie Segal drop to the bench with a minor concussion, with Adam Rones slotting into right-back and recent signing Tom Savage patrolling at left-back.
The line-up also saw the return of star players Irvine Howson and the influential Kieran Allen Curry. Team lined up in their usual 4-3-1-2 formation and were captained by Jules Noti.
With the teamtalk done, boots checked and customary handshake, the team's were ready to do battle. From the first whistle Team made their intentions clear with hardman Laurence Judah showing them they meant business with a crunching tackle.
Team quickly began to take control of proceedings with the midfield constantly finding Curry Allen in space. He managed to hold the ball up brilliantly and won a succession of corners which team failed to convert.
The first major chance fell to Curry Allen. Great work from Jon Breger in the middle forced his way forward towards the goal, a clever reverse ball on the edge of the area found Curry Allen who hit a shot low forced the keeper pulled off a great finger tip save to turn the ball round the post.
Fifteen minutes gone and Team were beginning to frustrate the opposition who were giving away needless free-kicks.
This time they were to be punished when a foul on the running full back Rones was to result in Team taking the lead.
Breger’s whipped free-kick was met by a weak punch from the Mottingham keeper, allowing Curry Allen to head into the empty net. In truth, this was no more than Team deserved for their pressure in the first 15 minutes.
For the next half an hour Team were to push for their second as their defence were being untroubled as Dan Silverman was marshalling the back four brilliantly.
Team were causing danger down the left side with full back Savage making great runs forward, this resulted in a great cross that target man Salmon headed over. Danger man Howson was doing some great work down either flank jinxing past defenders, however, his crosses into the box did not result in anything.
For all Team's pressure they failed to create any real clear-cut chances until a few minutes before half-time. This time great work down the right hand side from Howson picked out Curry Allen and with the keeper beaten, he hit a shot that was blocked on the line by a Mottingham defender, the rebound fell to Curry Allen whose second shot was also blocked on the line. A big chance missed as the first half whistle blew.
Young gave his half-time teamtalk and the troops were ready for their biggest half of their FC Team careers.
It came as no surprise to anyone that Mottingham came out fighting, piling on the pressure as the Team backline begun to go deeper and deeper as it came to a backs-against-the-wall job.
But Team were standing up firm. However, on the 70 minute mark, Team keeper Paul Mendelsohn was finally called into action as a hopeful punt from the Mottingham keeper saw the Team defence stop as they felt their striker was at least two yards offside.
However, the linesman's flag remained down and central of the goal, one-on-one with Mendelsohn, the Mottingham star striker curled a ball into the corner however Mendelsohn dived all the way right to tip the ball round the post to preserve Team’s slender advantage.
Mottingham's next chance came after a succession of seven corners. The ball came back out and then whipped in, it found the feet of the Mottingham striker who beat Mendelsohn, but out of nowhere Dan Silverman appeared diving on the line with his legs to clear the ball to the relief of everyone.
Team's best chances in the second half were on the counter-attack, Salmon firing a shot over on the half volley and Curry Allen blasting wide.
The game was turning into a battle and with Team being led by Curry Allen who seemed to be everywhere, with the battling Scot Judah, and Noti and Breger making some great last-ditch challenges, Team were showing they were up for the fight.
Drama in the final minutes as Mendelsohn was pulled up for handling outside the box from a goal-kick. With just an inch outside of the area Mottingham were gifted a real chance to take the tie to extra time but they blasted it into the wall as the final whistle blew and FC Team had reached the final of the London FA Cup.
After the match a delighted manager Mitch Young said: "I am so proud of the Team and everyone today. We faced a team in Mottingham that had won their previous 26 games however we were up for the fight and the whole team were heroes today.
"Kieran was everywhere and was the best player on the pitch, Dan Silverman was immense at the back and Jules captained the side brilliantly. We have a great team, very well balanced and the passion, desire and organisation above all else took us through. We frustrate teams as we are more organised and then defend well.
"To reach our first final is unbelievable and it's not just any final, it's the London FA Cup.
"It will be a great experience for me and the rest of the boys and we are now looking to win it. We have had a great cup run this season but saying that we have worked very hard for it, myself coach Pete Moss and Gideon Moss taking training twice a week, the players have responded and the hard work has paid off.
"We are still in a great position in the league with games in hand and to get to win a cup and get promoted to the Premier League would be a dream come true and that is the aim. I am proud to represent Jewish Football in a major cup competition and in a major final as we are a Jewish club and I am very proud of it. We aim to take a big crowd down to Croydon Athletic on April 17 and make it a real day to remember.
FC Team: Paul Mendelsohn, Adam Rones, Dan Silverman, Paul Kent, Tom Savage, Jules Noti (capt), Laurence Judah, Jon Breger, Kieran Allen Curry, Irvine Howson, Richard Salmon. Subs not used: Neil Weyman, Jake Weiner, Mitch Young