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,
F.Moran 1 (= MoM), C.Watson, T.Skilbeck, A.Marshall