Old Stoics Sign off Season with a Win
13 May 2017
Stowe's final fixture of the 2016-17 season saw them take on Old Bancroftians at home. With James Robson still out injured and Alex Jollivet away, Tolly Leech stepped in to captain a side that included Will Anthony making his first outfield appearance for the Old Stoics after a previous foray in goal two years previously.
Within moments of the match starting, the Old Stoics took the lead courtesy of a neat finish from an acute angle through the keeper's legs from Rollo Chadd. This all came after Mark Thompson-Royds had made a smart claim from a cross after the Bancroft's winger had made a dangerous run to the byline and whipped a threatening ball into the box. A swift counter-attack down the left hand side from first Thomas Benyon then Tolly Leech led to Rollo finding a pocket of space near the byline before his first-time poke surprised the away team's keeper and get Stowe off to the best possible start.
A hard pitch from such a dry spring made conditions difficult for any attempts at passing football with the match proceeded at a high-tempo albeit somewhat lacking in finesse as a result. Despite the early goal, the game was even between both sides with Stowe inviting unnecessary pressure onto themselves with a series of needless and soft free-kicks. From one such foul, the Stoics were made to pay. A free-kick from just outside the box was deftly played in on the bounce towards goal, surprising MTR in goal who was expecting a direct shot. With Will Case failing to make contact with his clearing header, MTR was only able to get a hand to the ball but not strong enough to stop it from rolling into the goal.
There were no further goals before half-time and indeed few clear-cut efforts on goal. In the second half, Stowe had a great chance to regain the lead with Benyon and Leech once again linking up on the left wing. The ball was played dangerously across the right post where Case made clean contact but found the outside of the post rather than the back of the net from close range. Later on, a near identical build up again saw Case with the chance to score but he was just unable to reach the ball before it fired past him.
Thankfully third time around there was no such near misses. This time the build up was down the right hand side, starting with a long throw from Jack Leech, which had proved an attacking threat all match, Case this time was able to turn provider and he found Tolly Leech meters out in the centre of the goal and he slammed home with the ease of a man that has scored in nearly every match he's played in.
Late-on Tolly looked to have doubled his tally before a great save from Bancroft's keeper denied him. However, the Old Stoics weren't made to rue this as they saw out the remaining minutes without too much drama to secure the 2-1 victory.
Man of the match went to Ben Hirst, who despite not getting a mention in the above report, had a near faultless performance in defence, sweeping up neatly any potential threats as well as winning header after header on a pitch that demanded that no aerial balls were allowed to bounce. Honorable mention for Thomas Benyon who was a constant threat to Bancroft down the left wing before moving into centre midfield late in the second half, where his tenacity and energy gave their midfield no time as the opposition went in search of an equalizer.
So that's the match reports down for the season, one in which we've spent more time worrying about the threat of going down rather than possible promotion but in the end secured another season of Division Four football without some of the dramas of previous years.
Thanks to everyone's that played, hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. Looking forward to 2017-18 season already.