|1||Mike Kurtianyk (7)|
|2||Mark Brearley (8)|
|3||Richard Jones (8)|
|4||Matt Sanderson (8)|
|5||Rick Davies (8)|
|6||Chris Rothwell (8)|
|7||Richard Woodward (9)|
|8||Michael Hornby (7)|
|9||Ste Howard (7)|
|10||Mike Howarth (8)|
|11||Will Hobson (8)|
|12||Simon Greaves (7)|
|13||Mark Baker (7)|
|Old Stretfordians 4ths||6|
Well, it was finally here. The final game of the season, the final time this group of players would pull on an Old Stretfordians jersey, and also the final time Manager Danny Coughlan would be the Manager!
The opposition was Mellor, who before the game sat 2 points ahead of Strets in 3rd position. The winner would take 3rd place! Anything less for Strets and they would finish a very good season in 4th. The Strets line up - M. Kurtianyk, M. Brearley, R. Jones, M. Sanderson, R. Davies, M. Hornby, C. Rothwell, R. Woodward, S. Howard, W. Hobson, M. Howarth (c).
The game started and Mellor took control pretty quickly, being backed by the advantage of a Strets defence facing a strong wind. 1-0! 10 minutes in and the Mellor left winger picked up a loose ball from 20 yards out, before hammering it over Mike Kurtianyk in the Strets goal. 2-0! Shortly after this, the Mellor striker who was clearly also the Volvic Challenge Man, picked up the ball from 25 yards, and drilled it towards goal. The ball was looking pretty comfortable for Kurtianyk, until a lucky bounce saw the ball lift over his reach and into the net.
Strets started to come back into the game and should have pulled one back after 30 minutes when Mike Howarth found his way into the box, before rolling it to Will Hobson. Hobson took his time before driving the ball goalwards. The Mellor goalkeeper made a fantastic reflex save, and pushed the ball to safety. Minutes later, Howarth was sent down the left. He beat the full back and again, found Hobson in the box. This time Hobson snatched at the chance and drove it inches over the bar. Strets had settled down and the midfield duo of Richard Woodward and Chris Rothwell were starting to pull the strings.
Things got worse for Strets however, when 2 minutes from the end of the first half, it was 3-0! A Mellor central midfielder found the net after another mix up in the Strets defence. Half time - 3-0!
Manager Coughlan unleashed some very strong words as Strets went out for their final 45 minutes!
It couldn't have started any worse for Strets when after 70 seconds of the second half, it was 4-0! The same goalscorer of the first, scored a very similar goal from 20 yards by driving the ball over Kurtianyk. Surely game over?
On came Simon Greaves for Ste Howard!
After 55 minutes, Mike Howarth grabbed his 32nd of the season to make it 4-1! A loose ball was picked up by Richard Woodward, who rolled it across the box, and Howarth drilled the ball into the corner from 12 yards!
Minutes later, Woodward should have grabbed another one for Strets by stealing the ball from the Mellor defence, before trying to lob the keeper. His effort wasn't good enough and the keeper caught it with ease. However it wasn't long before Woodward got the goal he deserved. Some fantastic play into the right hand side of the box saw Woodward tackled. He worked hard, took the ball back, beat 2 Mellor defenders before driving the ball left footed into the very top corner! 4-2!! Comeback?
With 20 minutes left, Strets made it 4-3! An out-swinging corner from Howarth found Woodward who smashed the ball towards the goal from 8 yards. The Mellor keeper made a fantastic reaction save, but he could only parry it to Chris Rothwell, who sliced the ball past the keeper and into the net for his first goal of the season!
However it looked like Strets' comeback was to be short lived as Mellor made it 5-3 with 15 minutes to go, with the midfielder who scored the 3rd, grabbing his 2nd of the game from 20 yards. Coughlan made his second substitution of the game with Mark Baker entering the field of play at the expense of Mike Hornby on the left.
THEN, immediately from kick off, Woodward waltzed through the Mellor midfield, drove into the box, drilled it across and the ball was deflected into the net for 5-4!
Mellor were on the ropes and were resorting to long clearances up field. One of which looked very comfortable for Matt Sanderson, until his attempted overhead kick failed miserably. Sanderson ended up in a heap, and the Mellor striker was through on goal with only Kurtianyk to beat. Kurtianyk pushed his shot onto the post and there was Greaves to clear up. The ball was hammered up field and found its way to Howarth. He burst onto the right wing and his cross was blocked by a Mellor hand, 30 yards from goal, 2 yards from the touchline.
With 5 minutes to go, Howarth stepped up and hit an unstoppable free kick that deceived the injured Mellor keeper and swerved into the corner of the net! It was his 33rd goal of the season and Coughlan ran onto the pitch in celebration!
Shortly after, it nearly got better for Strets. Mark Baker was sent clean through after making a run from his own half. He powered into the box and his attempted left foot drive was met with air rather than the ball, and the Mellor defence cleared the ball for a throw-in to Strets! It was looking like a 5-5 thriller as the ref signalled there were 2 minutes to play.
A long throw in by Matt Sanderson missed everyone. The ball bounced over the Mellor defence and rolled along the box. It seemed to take forever as Baker was given the opportunity to make up for his miss seconds earlier. From 12 yards, Baker made no mistake and drilled it into the corner leaving the Mellor keeper stranded! The entire Strets team were jubilant as Coughlan, Hornby, Howard and Andy Wood (tactical analyst for the day), ran onto the pitch to celebrate the goal! 6-5! What a comeback!!
The referee blew the whistle minutes later as Strets went out in style! This performance was a credit to Manager Danny Coughlan, and the team who worked tirelessly to get 3rd place.
Man of the Match - Richard Woodward. 2 goals, 2 assists and a tireless performance from the reigning player of the season.
Boys, it-s been emotional and an absolute pleasure!
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