M1 v Old Loughtonians
Fairytale season finale as Wapping snatch victory on final whistle with three goals in last 10 minutes.
Wapping Men's 1st team headed into the final game of the season in front of a large and vocal crowd in relaxed mood, with East Premier A division championship already won and national league status secured. However, the visitors and close neighbours, Old Loughtonians, would inevitably be tough opposition with their sizeable financial budget and having spent over 20 years in the national league.
Wapping went into the game with a small and heavily depleted squad due to injuries. To make up numbers, head coach, Ryan D'Souza, temporarily came out of retirement for his first competitive game for three years, and included himself on the bench. Wapping controlled the game from the outset and created a number of chances, only to be thwarted by the outstanding Old Loughts goalkeeper. Twenty minutes in the half, and against the run of play, the visitors finished off a slick counter attack to give them a 1 0 half time lead.
At half time, Wapping were forced to play with a bare 11 as captain, Oliver Cooper, twinged his hamstring. Wapping’s dominance continued and were frustrated when a penalty stroke was put onto the post by Dutchman, Michiel Marck. Worse was to follow as Old Loughts doubled their lead, from a broken down short corner routine won on the counter attack, one of the few times they had ventured into Wapping’s half.
With 10 minutes to go, 2-0 down and having a missed a penalty, a large crowd prayed for a miracle that Wapping's possession and territorial dominance deserved. It was then that Man of the Match, coach D’Souza, pounced on a loose ball in the circle and unleashed a reverse stick shot into the roof of the net, a goal met with joyous celebrations.
2-1 down and with just two minutes on left on the clock, Ian Kibble finished off a brilliant team move to lift the ball over the oncoming goal keeper to equalise. The lengthy celebrations suggested Wapping believed they had preserved their unbeaten 2016 record. But the crowd demanded more and Wapping flooded forward in search of a winner. Wapping forced a short corner on the final whistle and, in scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood movie, Grant Aidoo-Nash pounced on a rebound to finish and send the stadium into delirium.
Reflecting on the 3-2 win, captain Olly Cooper said: “Today was like a Hollywood script. To come from 2-0 down with 10 minutes to go was incredible, particularly as the fightback was led by our coach who hasn’t played for three years. Today was all about having fun given we had already won the league, and we definitely gave the large crowd what they wanted. Since Christmas we’ve picked up 31 points from a possible 33 and beaten every team in the division, which is a fantastic record. We’ll enjoy the Summer and then prepare well for the National League. There are exciting times ahead”.