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Final score…

Friday 19th April saw the 5th FJN Cup at Horsham FC in partnership with Health & Protection, Lexxika and Wolfram UK. 

The weather forecast looked precarious at best, and rain was anticipated all afternoon, but, as always with this event, the sun shone on the righteous and we had a lovely sunny afternoon for our two teams of elite athletes.

This year, the game was contested between Team Kai and Team Stu.  Team Kai was managed by Dan Small and Team Stu was managed by Nic ‘Pep’ Brown.  There was an eclectic blend of youth versus experience on display with the age range being 18-55.  Everyone involved played their part in a game that would be sure to picked as first on match of the day if the BBC were in attendance. 

The game started at a lively pace with both goalkeepers being tested early on as both teams pushed for the opening goal.  Amit Bhudia (Libra) looked certain to open the scoring before Dan Stoner (Base Insurance) pulled off a Gordon Banks style save to keep the scores at 0-0. 

Just before the mid-way point of the first half, Stu Perry (FJN) pounced on a through ball from the right before coolly slotting the ball into the corner of the net.  In Stu’s eyes the goal was reminiscent of Gazza against Scotland in Euro 96 but others on the pitch reckon it was a very fortuitous mis-control that led to the goal.  We’ll never know…..

Minutes after the restart, Team Stu found themselves 2-0 up after a defensive mix up between defence and goalie (not the last time this quote will be used in this write up), resulted in Timothy Felix (Charles Taylor Assistance) bravely charging in at the far post to bury the ball and double the lead. 

Team Kai rallied and midfield duo of Richard Grover (Wingate EB) and Steven Thompson (Telus) grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and put Team Stu to the sword.  Dean Tincombe (AXA) put in a lung-busting 50 yard run before placing his effort just wide of the post in what would have surely been a goal of the season contender.  Just before the break Steven Thompson curled an absolute peach of a strike into the top bins to leave the game delicately balanced at 2-1.

HT : Team Stu 2 – Team Kai 1

As per all of our previous FJN Cups, the second half is always a case of survival of the fittest.  All four previous games have also seen more goals scored in the second half than in the first half – this game was to be no exception…

Fair to say that Team Stu made an electric start to the 2nd half and flew out of the blocks!  The high press, made famous by Pep Guardiola, worked well for Pep Brown too as Darren Nicol (Rossborough Healthcare International) forced an error at the back and rolled the ball into an empty net to make the score 3-1.

The third goal resulted in an unfortunate injury to keeper Jono Evans (Base Insurance) who had to leave the field of play.  Ever present in these games, Steve Barber (Howden/Aston Lark) stepped up to the plate and donned the gloves for the remainder of the game.  

Steve was forced into action immediately and made a couple of crucial stops, one being bound for the top corner, before Jack Craig (Howden) capitalized on a defensive mix up and carried on with his form of last year’s 6 a side tournament to put Team Stu 4 – 1 up. 

When Stu Perry made the scores 5-1 just moments later with an outside of the boot finish from the edge of the box, the game looked finished as a contest.  Surely Team Kai could not come back from 5-1 down.  Or could they…….?

A couple of quick-fire strikes from previous hatrick hero Amit Bhudia (Libra), left Pep Brown and Stu looking very nervously at the clock on the big screen with the scores at 5-3 and still with 20 minutes to play.  Could it be…..? 

A scintillating run and pin-point cross from Sam, or was it Rob, Carter (Arc Legal) saw Nick Hale (Engage) leap like a salmon to bury a Shearer-esq header at the back post.  5-4, and the comeback was on.  With 10 minutes to go, we were set for a thrilling finish. 

The old favourite quote of the day, defensive mix up, reared it’s head again for the 6th Team Stu goal as a handled back pass gave the ref no alternative but to award an indirect free kick on the 6 yard line which Darren Nicol (Rossborough) duly hammered into the top of the net.  6-4 with just minutes to go.  Game over surely….

Team Kai had other ideas though and made the score 6-5 after what can only be described as one of the most comedic goal mouth scrambles of all time.  Both posts were hit, a goal line clearance and a save or two from Dan Stoner (Base) before Amit Bhudia (Libra) claimed his second FJN Cup hatrick by bundling the ball over the line. 

At 6-5 it was anybody’s game! 

Team Kai pushed and pushed and with a corner in the 94th minute super striker Nick Hale forced another powerful header at goal but this time it was just the wrong side of the bar.   Team Stu took the opportunity to attack quicky and Jack Craig struck a thunderous 25 yard effort that took a cruel deflection (a la Paul Parker / Peter Shilton 1990) and looped into the top corner.

This was the final act of the game and Team Stu triumphed 7-5 in a 12 goal thriller! 

Huge thanks to everyone who got involved with the game.  The players, the sponsors, the supporters and the team at Horsham FC for letting us use the facilities. 

The key aspect of the day is to raise funds and awareness for Wolfram UK.  The Wolfram team raised £1,000 in total from the game fees and a few sales of art work produced by the wonderfully talented Jennifer.  Huge thanks to anyone who played their part in the day!