JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN TROPHY
Shirley Park 2 SPEC FC 3
The Bananas fought valiantly to claim their greatest scalp in recent history, but ultimately, the win was not enough to see them progress from the Barry Goldstein Trophy's very own 'Group of Death'.
On a beautiful spring morning at Gladstone Park, it was SPEC who sprang to life first as their captain marvel Ashley Burns again showed why so many people think he is blooming marvellous. The skipper showed great initiative 15 minutes into the game when bending in a quick free kick 25 yards from goal to become SPEC’s first-ever player to reach double figures in a season.
However, despite SPEC’s early pressure in a yo-yo first half, it was Shirley Park who seized the initiative when a quick throw in caught the Bananas defence off guard and Ilan Shaki rattled and rolled home a right footed shot inside Lee Duskwick’s near post to make it 1-1.
And from a tiny acorn of hope, a large oak tree grew within the Park. This time, Simon Shelley<?b> pounced on a long throw in to make it 2-1.
This seemed to spur SPEC on, and it was petal to the metal as Marc Hecht showed silky feet to win a free kick on the edge of the area, which Dan Pike curled round the wall to equalise on the stroke of half time.
The second half was somewhat less action packed with Dan Beckwith showing glimpses of what he can do with two fully functional hamstrings for Shirley Park, whilst the introduction of Dan Cohen for SPEC ensured they were always a threat on the counter attack.
Duskwick produced a couple of fine saves in the SPEC goal to keep the Bananas in it, whilst Nick Nallis was having an afternoon to remember at the back, blocking what looked like a guaranteed goal for Park.
Elsewhere, a special off-the-ball friendship between Rob Murray and Daniel Mitman appeared to be blossoming faster than the chrysanthemums in the surrounding bushes.
But there was still time for one final twist. With only a couple of minutes remaining, Burns whipped in a dangerous corner for SPEC that Hecht pounced on with aplomb to cap a splendid performance from the midfield dynamo. And 3-2 SPEC was how it ended.
SPEC-tator James Lesner said: "It was a great win against a talented Shirley Park side of whom we wish the best of luck in their promotion push.
"We will enjoy the moment before concentrating on our four remaining league games where nothing but 12 points will do."
SPEC FC's Ricky Lawrence told JC Sport: "It was a really good game in which we had the better of the first half and Shirley Park bossed the second, but we managed to nick a late winner.
"Although the win ultimately doesn't mean much, it's always extra nice to get home on a Sunday afternoon after a win in the morning."
Shirley Park player-manager Dave Lusman, who named SPEC's Ashley Burns as man-of-the-match, told JC Sport: "There were a couple of couple of mad decisions from the ref, who was not a fan of the Park."