Saturday 1st April 2000 R.S.Benwell 1 (0) vs.(1) 2 Garnett B

GARNETT B became the sixth Garnett team to clinch their champioship this season with a hard-fought 2-1 win over nearest challengers RS Benwell at Blakelaw.

The omens were good as Garnett kicked off protecting a 100% record at Blakelaw this season. But within minutes disaster struck as Mourad Ketani went off injured. The student holidays meant that only C team keeper Ed 'The Head' Shaw was on the bench, and he was thrust into action replacing Ketani on the right flank.

Worse was to follow. Stalwart left back Roger Miller was injured making a crunching challenge on Benwell's obnoxious right back. His hobbling left him unable to continue at left back, meaning flying winger Andy Marshall was pressed into defensive service.

Yet despite these setbacks Garnett battled gamely, and amazingly it was the crocked Miller who put Garnett ahead with a bullet header from the on-loan Michael Hughes' corner. Garnett were unlucky not to add to their lead as a fantastic Tom Skilbeck set-piece hit the underside of the bar, and his fierce close range drive also rattled the post.

Half-time saw half a job done, with Benwell's long haired pacy striker continuing to threaten the Garnett rearguard. But the second half saw Garnett step up a gear as Pollard and Moran covered oceans of ground in the middle and Robins, Nicholls, Hughes and Marshall held firm at the back. Playing some excellent football, Garnett scored arguably one of their goals of the season as Skilbeck completely flabbergasted the defence on the edge of the box before laying the ball to Moran, who calmy slotted home with aplomb to all but seal the championship. His celebrations clearly showed what he thought about it.
With time running out Benwell launched a desperate offensive which saw the heroic hobbling Miller finally forced off injured after making a vital block on the edge of the box. Ten man Garnett then conceded when sloppy marking allowed a close range header to pull one back, but it was not enough.

The final whistle meant wild celebrations for Garnett B, who have followed in the footsteps of the first team last season in claiming the Division 2 championship. With two games left Garnett are now ten points clear of Benwell, whom they have now defeated three times.
Next Saturday sees the champions meet lowly Philosophers United, with the title, and promotion to the elite, firmly in the bag.

Team: T.Hawker, M.Hughes, P.Miller 1 (=MoM), M.Pollard, A.Robins, C.Nicholls, M.Ketani,
F.Moran 1 (= MoM), C.Watson, T.Skilbeck, A.Marshall