Wednesday 12th May 2004 Garnett A 3 (0) vs.(1) 2 Outer Milan
To mark the Double win - a double of reports, Pendlebury and Pollards' accounts of the match.
Garnett secure the double for the second consecutive
year thanks to a preformance full of Heart and passion.
What a tremendous end to a tremendous season. This was
a performance full of pride, passion and no small amounts of quality
and determination to overcome the setbacks put in front of Garnett A
on the day. In an England vs. Australia rugby world cup final scenario,
it was obvious the As were the better football side, but ill fortune,
and ill fated decisions seemed starred to turn the day against them,
but through sheer bloody minded
On a decent, but long-grassed Blakelaw pitch it was
a little difficult for the As to get their fluent passing game going
early on. In addition Outer Milan started well, cheered on by mass of
their bankrollers' acolytes on the
'Maradona', the former footballing prodigy turned tennis coach, was a key influence for Milan in the centre of the park, and his quality, strength and ability was unmistakable. Milan's forwards had pace and strength, and it was obvious this would be no top division versus 2nd division mismatch.
Following an even start, Milan took the lead from a move down the right, Maradona's run into the box was not tracked and one missed header later, the ball was in his path, and it was 1-0. But as even but 30 minutes had elapsed it was obvious that for all Milan's early endeavour, their fitness was going to haunt them. Maradona was already flagging in the warm evening sun, and his influence would decline steadily throughout the game, whilst the influence of the Garnett midfield would grow. Several Garnett half chances were snatched at in the lead up to half time, and whilst disappointed, the message from the management was that we can do better, we will do better, and quite frankly - have a look at them - they are knackered already.
The 2nd half started with Garnett pressure, and again
several half chances, the keeper pulling off a good save, and the defence
getting several blocks in on promising moments. Then in a 5 minute spell
came two pivotal moments - on a swift Milan counter attack, a ball over
the top caught out the Garnett rearguard and the diminutive striker
looped the ball over the onrushing Harty. There followed a tense few
seconds as the recovering Janes made up the ground to stretch his 6
ft 4 frame to hook the ball off the line just ahead of the pressurising
attacker - a moment that surely must go down as possibly the greatest
goal-line clearance in the history of the club. Sub keeper Scott was
shortly after introduced for the injured Kev Harty, who had
Not long after, a Garnett corner was swung over, and Pendlebury on a rare sortie forward was clearly leant on by the Milan defender - penalty! This was potentially the break that Garnett needed, and Pollard, from a long run up, coolly sent the keeper the wrong way and slotted the ball in to the bottom right hand side netting. A big moment, surely the force was with Garnett now and there would be only one winner.
Garnett pressure was constant, Milan hoofed it anywhere and threatened only sporadically as Garnett began to move the ball with real quality, from back to front, playing their best football of the match. Chances went begging, the usually prolific strike force of Young and Bell choosing a bad night to be profligate. A Pollard pile driver from 25 yards curled agonisingly wide. But as the game entered the last 10 minutes there was no real concern for the Garnett until a speculative long range drive was hit hard into the Garnett area, and onto the thigh of gaffer Pendlebury - unfortunately his hand was in near proximity, and the referee saw fit to award a bewildering penalty with 10 minutes left. In a match and time of such importance how he could be 100% certain to give the decision we shall never know. But Maradona trudged forward, and was never going to miss - 2-1, and it looked like curtains.
Green and Black heads had gone, time seemed to be slipping away, composure was lacking, and in a moment when the otherwise excellent Pendlebury sliced a clearance out of the park, it seemed the team's heads dropped as one. But an inspired substitution turned things round, Collins for Jackson - 3-4-3 for the last five. Milan were forced back once more, they scrapped and scraped through a couple of scrambles, until, after persistent Garnett pressure, they finally cracked. The big centre half could only toe the ball weakly out of a melee, and Pollard was on hand to ram the ball, left footed, high and hard. The Milan keeper got a hand to it and diverted it sideward - there was an agonising moment before the ball hit the top corner of the net and dropped down...the equaliser, three minutes left, and the Garnett roar was undoubtedly heard at Benson Park. In truth it was no more than Garnett deserved having been totally dominant in the 2nd half.
Pressure brought no further goals, and weary legs were
dragged into extra time. But if Garnett were tired, Milan were more
so, having been on the ropes for most of the 2nd half. Now there really
was only one winner.
Milan summoned up the will to press forward once more,
but a few balls tossed into the box aside there was no coming back,
and Garnett heard the final whistle that confirmed the double double,
and captain Pollard
Team: K.Harty (R.Scott), J.Almond, C.Jackson (S.Collins),
M.Pollard 2 (MoM), D.Pendlebury, P.Janes, M.Smith (P.Murray), B.Holmes,
K.Young 1, Adam Bell, M.Deeble
NB: The views expressed here are those
of the author and do not necessarily represent the