Heroic Athletico take Glenthorne the distance

JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN TROPHY
Athletico Finchley 1 Glenthorne United B 2

Goals from Richard Rosenthal and Daniel Lassman steered Division Three champions Glenthorne B past Athletico in Copthall, but they were given an almighty scare by the Division Four team.

Finchley fans turned up en masse to see the reds face their toughest fixture yet – the unbeaten Glenthorne United B.

The first half showed some great battles on the pitch, with each team going for it right from the off. Glenthorne looked dangerous as they managed to get the ball in the box time after time, but could not seem to find the net.

Athletico gave as good as they got, most notably Ben Mandell cutting inside onto his right foot to force a top corner save from the Glenthorne keeper.

However, it was the Thornes to take the lead after an unfortunate slip from centre back Adam Goldstein allowed Rosenthal to shoot from inside the box. The ball found its way into the net after going underneath the body of keeper Doug Carson. 1-0 Glenthorne and the visitors went into half time one goal to the good.

The second half provided much excitement. Glenthorne quickly doubled their advantage after a sublime cross was met with a sweet volley from Lassman inside the box and into the back of the net.

After going two down, many would predict Glenthorne to take complete control. However, this was not the case as Athletico stepped up a gear and began to dominate the game.

Finchley created chance after chance. Super signing Daniel Mattey knocked the ball in front of him and began one of his magic runs. He sprinted away from three Glenthorne players, all the way into the box and unleashed a shot which missed the goal by a matter of inches. Then Ben Mandell went close, forcing another good save from Jordan Davidson from close range.

Glenthorne’s top scorer Craig Sandford was almost anonymous all game thanks to tight marking from centre backs Goldstein and Marchant. However, he did get his chance after a goal kick from Carson was headed back perfectly to Sandford in acres of space. He only had the keeper to beat but sliced the ball wide with the outside of his foot.

Despite this chance, Glenthorne did not look particularly dangerous. They certainly lacked creativity as their star man Lassman was man marked out of the game by the hard working Jack Wagner.

Athletico managed to pull one back after a throw in deep into the Glenthorne half was headed on to the back post. Margolin snatched onto the ball before releasing an inch-perfect cross to find the feet of Andrew Greenwall-Cohen who volleyed in the ball into the goal, almost breaking the net - slightly reminiscent of Robin Van Persie’s volley against Charlton in 2006.

Athletico applied all the pressure for the rest of the game, knowing they had nothing to lose. The Finchley fans were celebrating after Greenwall-Cohen slid the ball across the face of the goal to Mandell who faced an empty net. There was no other man the fans would have rather seen in that position, but somehow, some way, only G-d will know how, Athletico’s top-scorer fumbled the shot from five yards out and it went over the bar. Taxi for Mandell.

Chances continued to open up for the likes of Joel Barnett and Greenwall-Cohen but it did not seem to be Athletico’s day. Mattey took a sublime free kick from just outside the box, and fans sank to their knees as the bending shot crashed against the crossbar.

The game would not have been complete without some controversy. Towards the end of the game, the ball was launched over the top towards Sandford who clearly handled the ball to bring it under control. Everybody on and off the pitch saw it, apart from the referee of course. As you know – if the ref doesn’t see it, he cant give it. Sandford ran with the ball before being brought down by a tackle from Goldstein in the box. Penalty to Glenthorne. Top-scorer Sandford stepped up. Athletico fans had their backs turned away. Goldstein even pulled a Gallas as he walked to the other side of the pitch in disgust. However, Sandford’s rising shot smashed the cross bar and justice was done.

In the end, a dominant Finchley side were unable to get a result against the Division Three champions and they waved goodbye to their Barry Goldstein hopes. It was truly a great game.

This means Group C will be decided when Glenthorne meet UJIA next week.

Glenthorne joint-manager Craig Sandford told JC Sport: "Athletico are a credit to Division Four. They deserve to have won the game today. We were outplayed and more disappointing, we were outfought.

"We scored two very good goals, but that is all we really did during the game. Our keeper Jordan Davidson was our man-of-the-match, which says something.

"Athletico are good and funny bunch of boys and I don't know how they are mid table. They deserve better.

"However, a win is a win and when you are used to a winning feeling then that is sometimes what gets you the three points.

"We need to push on now and make this a great season rather than a good one."

Athletico Finchley chairman Zach Margolin told JC Sport: “Once again, we showed an incredible amount of heart and desire. Glenthorne were shocked at the way we played and quite frankly we should have got something from the game.

"At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you play, as long as you win and Glenthorne proved that point today.

"We may be out the cup, but our heads are held high as we put up a great fight against the Division Three champions."

Last updated: 1:55pm, March 12 2012