New Milton Eagles grounded after MA Hart Cup final heroics
MA Hart Hayward Cup Final (AET): Gotham Reserves 2-1 New Milton Eagles
NEW MILTON EAGLES MA Hart Hayward Cup dreams were shattered in extra time in a highly competitive showpiece final against Gotham Reserves at Hurn Bridge.
Eagles battled back from a goal down to draw level after 90 minutes, only to agonisingly lose out in extra time.
Pre-game injuries left Eagles short on options with top scorer, Justin Keeler plus Chris Payne and George Boultwood all missing from the cup final squad.
Veteran, Julian Smith, was called up and saw a header saved in the opening exchanges. At the other end, keeper Dale Wakefield performed heroics making several vital first half saves, while his defence dug in with some last-ditch blocks to keep Gotham out.
Eagles’ best first half chance came when the Gotham keeper punched the ball out to the edge of the box and Shaun Waterman fired a volley narrowly over the bar.
Meanwhile, a combination of the post and Wakefield prevented Gotham from opening the scoring and with the last kick of the first half, Eagles’ Sam Quinn saw a shot cleared off the line.
The second half ebbed and flowed, and Wakefield continued to put himself on the line to make some brave blocks with his hands and feet. With seven minutes to go, Gotham broke down the left and crossed to the back post where Alex Rossi was waiting to shoot. Even then, Wakefield got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out.
From the kick-off, Eagles went straight down the other end and won a corner. Shahed Miah crossed to the far post, where Shaun Miller was waiting to crash home a headed equaliser from close range to take the game into 30 minutes extra time.
Two tired teams went back and forth searching for a winner in the added time. Wakefield continued with his Man of the Match performance, making more saves to keep Eagles level. Finally, the luck ran out. A ball over the top saw Quinn and Conner Picken racing for the ball. Quinn pulled up with cramp and Picken reacted quickly to lob the ball over Wakefield into the top corner to secure the trophy went to Gotham.
Eagles’ season is now over. They will either finish second or third in the Bournemouth Division 2 (depending on Gotham’s final game against league winners, Talbot Rise) and were runners-up in the cup. A decent return for a great season, but one that holds a number of “what ifs and maybes” that could have seen them lift a league and cup double.
Eagles: Wakefield, Prior, Quinn, Gilbert, Borley, Waterman, Hurdle, Miah, Spooner, Vibert, Smith, Rixon, S. Miller, L. Miller, Parsons.