Cheltenham Saracens 2 Shortwood 3 – UHL Hellenic League
Shortwood finished the season on a winning high, writes Jim Cunneen.
Manager Ian Soule felt the watching fans certainly got value for money: “If you paid a fiver for that game you would have left a happy person.”
It certainly was a belter with Wood storming to a three-goal lead and Saracens coming back at them hard in the last 25 minutes but Wood held out for a terrific win.
Wood welcomed back the impressive Alex Bell. Orgest Pepa also returned and Chris Earle and Ben Minnican turned in impressive performances but the star of the show was young Rupert Beecham who played in a holding midfield spot and seemed to be everywhere and his break up play and distribution was excellent.
Wood completely controlled the first half and Saracens hardly put a glove on them. Wood took the lead after only 8 minutes. Earle controlled a Harper Emerson flick on out ran and out muscled former Shortwood captain Tom Hoskins and fired an unstoppable shot past keeper Dix.
Earle was then denied by a last-ditch tackle and Minnican almost caught out Dix with a long range free kick.
Wood added the second after 21 minutes. Beecham’s raking diagonal ball found Eakers who worked well to force a corner. When the corner came over Pepa’s shot was parried by Dix and as Pepa went to convert the rebound, he was brought down and Earle sent keeper Dix the wrong way from the spot.
A Marks’ cross was inches too high for Harper Emerson and Hoskins was shown a yellow for pulling back Earle. Bell took the free-kick from fully 45 yards lout and it hit a Cheltenham player leaving Dix stranded and the ball in the far corner to put Wood 3-0 up.
Wood continued to press but could not add to their score before the break.
The second half started in much the same way with Wood attacking and Tryner sent a powerful header straight to Dix, Earle almost put in Bell and Tryner was inches away, at full-stretch, from getting on another Minnican free-kick.
After 63 minutes, Sarries pulled one back out of the blue as former Shortwood striker Holmes sent a fine header past Muir.
Earle shot wide and Marks forced Dix into a save but then Wood carelessly conceded a penalty but Midwinter hit the spot kick well wide.
Cheltenham’s tails were up and Ed Major scored with a sublime volley with 7 minutes to go. Although Wood were under pressure they saw the game out.
Shortwood: Muir, Marks K, Barrett, Pepa, Tryner, Beecham, Eakers (Simmonds 63), Minnican, Bell (Davis 89), Harper – Emerson (Soule 63), Earle (Sinclair 77)
Star Player – Rupert Beecham