Houghton Main 1
Ref: Ian Walsh
Photo: Nick Bainbridge
Rotherham Sunday League side AFP claimed their fourth Montagu Cup in five years as they overcame Houghton Main 3-1 on a blustery Easter Monday at Mexborough Athletic Ground.
Main fought back in the second half after AFP took a first half lead from the penalty spot, but AFP took the prize after some excellent counter-attacking football in the second period.
Due to heavy winds, the conditions always favoured the side shooting away from the pavillion, and AFP took full advantage early on.
Houghton goalkeeper Damon Watson was forced off his line and brought down the onrushing forward inside the first ten minutes, and referee Ian Walsh had no hesitance in pointing to the spot, with the kick despatched to Watson’s left for the opening goal.
The goal spurred AFP on, and forward Ben Thornton was causing problems for Houghton’s defence and twice was inches from meeting a low delivery across goal.
At the other end, Houghton won a free kick on the edge of the box in response, but nobody was on hand to convert Adam Stead’s delivery into the box.
It wasn’t until the start of the second half that Main threatened, and they took hold of the game with the help of the wind.
And they thought they had scored early in the half, but when AFP goalkeeper Ben Brunt rushed out to save superbly in a one v one situation.
With half an hour left to play it was game on, when a long throw in from near the corner, which had been causing AFP issues all afternoon, was flicked on towards the back post where Jake Simon was lurking to lash home.
The equaliser seemed to provide Houghton with fresh impetus, and they twice forced goalmouth scrambles that needed a defender to hack off the line.
On the second such occasion, the ball was cleared down the pitch, and ran nicely for Thornton, who finished superbly across goal to give AFP their lead once more.
And with Houghton chasing a second equaliser late on, AFP wrapped up the win on the counter attack when a low cross from the right was turned past Watson, and AFP’s celebrations began.
Houghton manager Terry Simon rued the fine margins that cost his side victory.
“We started slowly, and were nervy I think,” said Simon.
“They obviously got the penalty, but then we came into a little bit.
“I thought the wind spoiled the game and made it a game of two halves.
“We got back into it, but then I just thought it was a bit of a scrappy 15 minutes when we needed just to get hold of the ball and try and compose ourselves.
“But we didn’t get the opportunity, fair play to them (AFP), they played to their strengths, they know what they’re good at.
“We had a couple of half chances where the ball is bouncing around the box and didn’t quite drop for us. It happens.
“For their second goal, their midfielder does an overhead kick and clears the ball off their line, and 30 seconds later we’re kicking off. That’s the difference between winning and losing.
“With the third goal, you’re chasing the game, it’s immaterial. The second one was against the run of play and was a sucker punch. But fair play to them. We’ll try and lift our chins up and go on.”