Surrey Junior Cup Final, Thursday 5th May 2005, Molesey FC
WESTMINSTER CASUALS 3 - 0 OLD RUTLISHIANS
CHAMPIONS: The Gaffer gets his hands on the Surrey Cup
THE CASUALS blew away Old Rutlishians with a breathtaking display to win the Gaffer's Holy Grail - the Surrey Saturday Junior Cup.
And moments after lifting the stunning 120 year old silver trophy, Phil Malcolm declared: "This is my finest day in football. Not only have we lifted the Surrey Cup but we have done it in tremendous style and no-one could doubt that we were by far the superior team on the night. We set our stall out this season to win this competition and prove we are the best team at our level in Surrey and despite a very tough draw, we have done just that. A whole year's planning, hard work and sacrifice by the squad has come to a fantastic conclusion this evening."
The final was just two minutes old when Casuals skipper Michael Rootes cut inside from the left and struck a fierce shot that Old Ruts keeper James Howarth pushed around the post. Rootes was highly influential from the start and minutes later combined well with Ian Hardy but shot over the bar from the edge of the penalty area. The Casuals continued to press and John Skelly sent Grant Payne scurrying through but his lob over the onrushing keeper dropped agonisingly over the crossbar.
Old Rutlishians only chance of the first half came in the 30th minute when former Tooting & Mitcham United reserve team striker Paul Hull curled a free kick around the wall but Chris Wolsey was alert and saved well low to his right.
The Casuals should have taken the lead soon after when Rootes won the ball in midfield and slid a pass into Payne but for once the prolific striker's control let him down and Howarth was able to smother. Sam Holder then sent Ian Hardy racing through but he shot weakly and Howarth saved again.
In the 40th minute Rootes spurned the most clear cut chance of the half when his close range diving header from Hardy's pinpoint cross from the right was parried brilliantly by Howarth who was also then equal to Skelly's ferocious follow-up volley.
In first half injury time Hardy was sent clear by a great flick header from Jim Paley but again sent his lob just wide. Old Ruts could thank wasteful Casuals finishing and their very impressive keeper for getting them the break on level terms.
The Casuals goal survived a scare early in the second half when Adam Clark's inswinging corner bounced off the top of the crossbar but normal service was resumed in the 50th minute when Rootes played an early free kick into Payne who fired narrowly wide of the far post. Unfortunately the Casuals top scorer turned his ankle and was unable to return to the action following a lengthy spell of treatment.
Dan Bennett replaced Payne and slotted into central midfield with Jim Paley pushed up front. Bennett made his presence felt almost immediately with his energetic running and tackling which ensured the Casuals maintained their impressive tempo. Right back James Brack went close with a shot from just inside the area but pressure from Gary Langton forced him into lifting his left footed effort high and wide. Skelly's slide rule pass then released Holder but again the keeper dived in at the feet of diminutive wide man to deny the Casuals.
However the Casuals finally got the goal they so richly deserved in the 70th minute when Bennett volleyed a defence splitting pass from deep in his own half into Paley's path and he robustly held off a challenge before burying a shot between the keeper's legs to spark wild celebrations.
Old Ruts almost hit back immediately when Richard Hayward headed Steve Andrews' long free kick wide and minutes later Hull's left footed volley was well saved by Wolsey.
A second Casuals goal on 75 minutes put the outcome beyond doubt. Bennett won a tackle on the centre spot and his midfield partner Skelly picked up the loose ball and sent the increasingly influential Holder into space down the right. The winger rolled a perfect first time pass into the path of Ian Hardy who steadied himself with his left foot before striking a fierce rising shot with his right beyond the helpless Howarth.
Paul Stokes replaced Skelly and made an instant impact when he latched onto a misplaced Old Ruts pass and rounded the keeper. Having been forced wide he pulled the ball back from the byline to Rootes who sidefooted over the bar. But it hardly mattered as Rootes headed the resulting goal kick to Paley who flicked the ball into Hardy and the frontman unselfishly fed the now rampant Holder who took a touch before clinically curling the ball into the top corner.
Old Rutlishians had a chance to grab a late consolation in the closing minutes but Foster wildly slashed a volley well over from just eight yards out.
The final whistle signalled the end of a great night's work and a magnificent treble of trophies for the Casuals. The Gaffer awarded to man of match award to the entire squad of sixteen. What a guy. What a season. What a team.
Chris Wolsey, Stuart Richards, James Brack, Dom Edwards, Joe Maughan (Gareth Griffiths 83), Jim Paley, Michael Rootes, John Skelly (Paul Stokes 75), Grant Payne (Dan Bennett 50), Ian Hardy, Sam Holder.
Not used: Rod van der Laan, Dave Barnard
James Howarth, Matt Crowley, Gary Langton (Nigel Watford), Jeremy Capper (Paul Beaumont), David Cundy, Kevin Foster, Steve Berry, Steve Andrews, Adam Clark (Richard Hayward), Paul Hull, John Wood.