By Robert Moore
On 24th May, a glorious Friday evening at Bog Road, Lower Maze saw a strong two hundred crowd gather to witness the final of the South Antrim Supplementary Cup between league champions Warren Young Men 1st XI and runners up by two points, Orangefield Old Boy 3rd XI.
The whistle was blown greeted by the striking of the ever atmospheric Warren drum and the final was off. It was a reasonably slow start for both sides clearly as a result of some nervous tension with some easy passes going astray. However after the quarter of the hour mark play improved and Orangefield’s right midfielder Sloan was causing trouble down the wing. After a few promising attacks from the men from East Belfast, Warren started to gain some possession down their right hand side. A route one long ball was played over the Orange defence and the Warren right midfielder was chasing it down. Orange’s captain making his last appearance for the club, Mark Patton shielded the challenge and Goalkeeper Stuart Magill came to collect the ball. However to the shock of the majority of both lines a penalty was given as a result of Patton’s challenge which seemed reasonably acceptable. Not to the referee however and it even looked as if the Orangefield captain was to be shown red, fortunately though for the sake of a fair final it was only a caution. The Warren player who earned the pen duly stepped up and smashed the ball into the corner of Magill’s net, 1-0 Warren after twenty minutes.
The concession seemed to strike some forceful intent into the Orangefield attack if not that then perhaps the voice of an angered manager did the trick in the shape of Darren McMillan. Again the threat came from Sloan down the right and some speed and skill forced the left back of Warren to miss time his tackle bringing the attacker down. Set piece specialist from centre back Neil Allen strolled up take the free kick positioned close to the corner flag. His whipping cross to the back post seemed to be missed by all the Orange men in the area however Gareth Wright made some contact and a wicked deflection sent the ball into the goal for a well deserved Orangefield equaliser after 25 minutes. Game on!
This gave hunger to the Orangemen as they seemed to want more and pushed for another. With half an hour on the clock The Orange combined again down the right through Sloan onto frontman David Tittensoar close to the byline. His chip over the defender found centre midfielderTony Craig in the box. Craig flicked it on across with a delightful header which found the big Welshman Rezza Davies eight yards out. He wrapped his right boot around the ball smashing it into the roof of the Warren net and how he enjoyed sending his side 2-1 up. A deserved lead on reflection.
The lead didn’t last too long however as an almost immediate attack from the Warren men saw the league champions cut through the Orange defence like a knife through butter and a good finish from the striker restored parody with the first half petering out. 2-2.
Ten minutes of the second half was identical to the last ten of the first with not much occurring. This triggered McMillan into his first substitute with a straight swap as Sloan was replaced by Bryan Reynolds at right wing after a great shift from the midfielder. Reynolds and right back Ross Tumillson linked up just as Sloan did and Orangfield were still pressing for the lead with an hour gone.
Warren seemed to have run out of ideas as the only form of an attack they could muster was the long ball which centre backs Allen and Ian Bickerstaff were more than capable of dealing with. McMillan made his final two substitutions in quick succession looking for fresh legs in the form of James and Robert Moore replacing Andrew Sharkey and Rezza Davies respectively. After replacing Davies and his 27 goals of the season, Moore partnered Tittensoar up top with Orangefield looking for the winner.
After 85 minutes it was clear both teams wanted the winner with twenty extra time minutes ominously looming if the winner wasn’t found. With Tittensoar and Moore awaiting any scraps on the counter, the Orange were defending a Warren attack down the left. A cross came in and Reynolds was dragged across from his left by a free Warren man, he did terrifically to block the shot with the ball deflecting out of play. However dumfounded again by the whistle of death, the referee again pointed to the spot for Warren’s second of the game to the astonishment of the Orange line. With just minutes left on the clock the same taker sent Magill the opposite way from the previous pen and Warren had a valuable late lead. Both linesmen were later interviewed and concurred that both penalties were “soft!” The Orangemen needed one more push. 3-2 Warren.
The ball was lobbed up the pitch from Magill with Moore attempting to challenge for the header only to be pushed in the back from the Warren defender. Greeted by thunderous cheers from Orange line, the referee gave a free kick to the league runners up close to the right touch line. Neil Allen yet again came forward with his deadly left foot. All were in the Warren box bar Magill and Bickerstaff. Allen hit a devilishly dipping cross come shot and the Warren keeper could only spill the ball in the six yard box to meet three onside Orangefield attackers, (just shows the desire to score with amount to follow in on the keeper) Gareth Wright was closest to the ball and with a frantic diving header, the Orange were level in injury and East Belfast could hear the cheers from the 12th man. Justice was served as the Final finished all square on 3-3 with Wright’s injury time equaliser. Twenty more minutes.
Again it was clear that both sides would not be settling for penalties as attacks came end to end. Magill was in the game a lot more and proved why he’s been an invaluable member of the Orangefield squad throughout the whole season as three one-on-ones were crucially saved from the Orange Number 1. One Hundred Minutes played and still the two sides could not be separated. This was testament to how close they have been all season as only two points was the difference between first and second.
After 108 minutes and with Reynolds now on the left, he got back on his favoured right foot with only Tittensoar and Moore making their way into the Warren box. His in swinging cross was over Tit’s marker and a great touch and hit from the ever fluorescent forward hit a Warren defender’s back and headed towards the goal. Half the crowd thought it was in only to dramatically strike the foot of the upright and rebound into to play where Moore was oh so adequately positioned to react the quickest and slot the ball into the vacant net from all of two yards. The goal sent the Orangemen into voluptuous uproar as Moore burst down the Orange line in delight to be greeted with what can only be described as a mammoth pylon! Orangefield 4-3 with injury time in the second half of extra time remaining.
Three minutes was all that was left on the clock and after the usual fantastic defending of Allen, Tumillson, Patton, Bickerstaff and Craig, Warren could not find any wall through the solid Orange back line again and the only whistle they ever wanted to hear from the referee, came. They had done it. Orangefield had defeated the league champions Warren after going behind twice in the Final with some dubious referring. However it’s clear they didn’t care about the officiated at the conclusion of the match as a mass pitch ovation occurred with hugs and drink going everywhere. Orangefield were the better team on the night and thoroughly deserved their cup glory with McMillan, Alan Finlay and Chris Forsyth the key off the field setting up a fantastic team. David Tittensoar was named Man of the Match and collected his award at the ceremony greeted with team champagne and Carlsberg. A great finish to the season and a thrilling final to witness. Orangefield 4-3 Warren after 111 minutes!