JC MSFL DIVISION FOUR
Athletico Finchley 3 SPEC FC 3
SPEC FC's promotion hopes were dealt a blow as they were held by an Athletico Finchley team who did Athletic Bilbaum a huge favour.
Athletico stepped up to their last game of the season against a SPEC side who have been prolific all season.
Captain Sam Marchant finally won the toss for the reds and saw his side play uphill for the first half on a big slope.
SPEC capitalised on their first half advantage and applied plenty of pressure for the first 10 minutes of the game. Athletico keeper Doug Carson was left red-faced after an in-swinging SPEC corner was deflected into the net off of his arm, giving SPEC the lead.
This goal seemed to wake up Athletico and they quickly responded with a goal. A corner from Ben Mandell was headed clear by a SPEC defender. Unfortunately for SPEC, the ball fell to the feet of Mikey Salem, 25 yards out. The midfielder took a touch before hitting a sumptuous half volley onto the inside of the post and into the back of the net. Unbelievable tekkers. JC Goal of the Week judges take note!
The game quickly became an end-to-end affair with both sides going all out for the win. The next goal came for Athletico. Aron Keller took a long-range shot which was deflected off a SPEC defender before finding its way to the feet of Salem six yards from goal. Mikey didn’t think twice as he slotted the ball past the SPEC keeper to get his second goal of the game. 2-1 Finchley.
However, SPEC managed to draw level after their striker showed great skill by knocking the ball past the Athletico defenders and finding the net from the tightest of angles. 2-2.
The dual continued with both sides really going at each other. However, it was Athletico who were to score next. Margolin took the ball under control before finding Mattey on the right wing. Mattey turned, knocked the ball in front of him and began one of his famous runs. The winger brought the ball to the byline before cutting in past a defender, leaving him for dead. He then cut the ball past another defender, before sliding the ball across the face of the goal for Mandell to put in the net - finally making emends for his tragic miss against Glenthorne.
The score read Athletico 3 SPEC 2 at half time.
The second half was certainly not as exciting as the first, with both teams showing signs of fatigue. However, despite less chances being created, the battle continued.
SPEC did manage to get an equaliser after a shot was deflected to the feet of the SPEC striker, two yards out. The ball was put into the net and the teams were level once more.
Athletico centre back Adam Goldstein was forced to come off due to injury, forcing Finchley to play a more attacking side. This worked well for the reds as they applied non-stop pressure for the last 10 minutes of the game. Mandell could have scored a chance from inside the box and Mattey also came close. Richard Hayim then forced a great save from replacement keeper Daniel Pike and Athletico looked increasingly dangerous.
Then, with one minute left on the clock, Athletico launched the ball into the SPEC box. The ball was flicked on to the feet of Mandell who slotted the ball home. Finchley fans around the world were in ecstasy until the goal was disallowed as the linesman flagged Mandell offside. A very controversial decision, right at the last!
The exciting game came to a close and Athletico recorded another great result, maybe damaging SPEC’s hopes for promotion. Final score: Athletico Finchley 3 SPEC FC 3.
Adam Lenz (2) and Ashley Burns registered for SPEC FC.
The draw leaves SPEC FC three points behind second-place Athletic Bilbaum, whom they meet next weekend in a potential promotion decider.
SPEC FC's Ricky Lawrence told JC Sport: "Finchley played well and have got some very good ball players. It's a game that could have gone either way in fairness but we know we just have to raise our game and get the three points next week.
"The Bilbaum game is now huge and we know only a win will do."
"We'd also like to congratulate Brady on winning the league today. They are a very good side and we hope to be playing them in the league again next season."
Zach Margolin, the Athletico chairman, told JC Sport: "It has been a really exciting first season for us and what better way to finish it off than a game like today?
"SPEC are a great side and we knew it would take something special to stop them today and that is exactly what happened.
"The lads wore their hearts on their sleeves and really dug deep, especially after going a goal down.
"All I can say is that I am so proud to have been a part of Athletico Finchley this season and hope everyone involved in the MSFL has enjoyed watching us as much as I have!"
Athletico manager Gideon Rabstein told JC Sport: "We have a fantastic team spirit that has been key to some of our results this season.
"We have been unlucky not to get points on a few occasions, but today we shut SPEC out and didn’t let them run away with the game. This marked the day when men became lions.