Over 400 people made their way down to Holywell football stadium for one of the highlights of the IMS calendar. This year, cup holders Cayley were joined by IMS newcomers The Holt as they made their way, against all odds, into the final. A closely contested match was decided by a Cayley goal in each half and despite The Holt’s best efforts, which included a chance cleared off the line and a goal ruled out for offside, they were unable to force a breakthrough.
The teams came through the tunnel and were greeted to huge cheers from the sizable fan base watching on from the stands, each player announced was met with a great noise from the supporters and as the official for the evening, Dom Chambers, kicked the game off there was a massive buzz about the stadium.
Of the two teams, Cayley settled quicker and soon fell into a solid rhythm, putting The Holt onto the back-foot from the outset. The pressure paid off and 2 minutes into the game, The Holt failed to clear the ball and in the panic, Dan Banister nodded the ball down and the ball crept over the line into the corner of the net. 1-0 to Cayley.
There was a feeling around the ground that the Holt would crumble after their early set back, they certainly looked nervous in the opening few minutes and it appeared as though the magnitude of the event had affected their play, a style which had seen them so easily make it to the final in the first place. However, Holt Manager, Amir Abdul rallied his players and they gave a spirited 40 minutes in which they defended robustly against the talented Cayley front-line.
The Holt actually had the better chances of the two teams, and their best opportunity to equalise came in the 40th minute, striker Tom Barnes managed to get one on one with the Cayley keeper and despite poking it past him, the defenders managed to clear the ball just before it crossed the line. Despite pressure to give the goal from The Holt players and supporters, linesman Aditya Jakatar correctly gave the decision not to award the goal.
Half time: The Holt 0-1 Cayley
After a fiercely contested half-time penalty shoot-out, in which each hall nominated an individual to take a penalty on the stadium pitch, the players made their way back onto the pitch for the second half. The referee kicked them off and The Holt now had 45 minutes to rescue their IMS cup dream.
They certainly went for it, and whilst it meant they had more chances, it also meant they left themselves exposed at the back and Cayley continued to capitalize on this. The game became stretched and both teams came close on a number of occasions to scoring.
Cayley’s overall dominance of the game did pay off, and they doubled their lead on the 68th minute thanks to a penalty. Tired Holt legs couldn’t deal with the tricky footwork of the Cayley forward and Chambers pointed straight to the spot. A well-taken penalty later and Cayley were 2-0 up, to the delight of their supporters.
The boys in navy blue and yellow had a chance to extend their lead further, confusion between the defence and goalkeeper, Allen Vermeulen, gave the Cayley striker an open goal to aim at after poking it round the stranded ‘keeper, but with seemingly no pressure, he put the ball into the side netting, to the relief of the Holt players and the delight of The Holt supporters.
This lifeline for the Holt meant they were still in the game, and one goal would have changed the game. But as the minutes wore on, the Cayley back 5 were resolute in their defending and the Holt couldn’t find a way through. After 4 minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle was blown and the Cayley coaches and substitutes ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their players.
In true IMS spirit, both teams gave each other a guard of honor as they came to collect their medals and trophy. Both The Holt and Cayley can be proud of the way they conducted themselves on the night, showing true passion, ability and sportsmanship throughout the night.
Full Time: The Holt 0-2 Cayley
The Holt Starting XI: Allen Vermeulen, Jack Walker-Payne, Conor Robinson, Tim Christy-Reid, Danny Ingram, Luke McKeag, Elliot Newman, Oriol Strophiar, Andrea Soctto Di Carlo, Marcus Beddoe, Thomas Barnes
Subs: Dayle Childs, Macauley Allen, Churchil Afodume, Samuel Bingham, Nino Rodriguez
Cayley Starting XI: Matt Bentley, Tom Collins, Phil Taylor, Joe Wilkinson, Jake Fitzsimmons, Tom Byford, Marco Farato, Daniel Watt, Dan Banister, Darryl Sanders, Patrick Lucas.
Subs: Tobi Nicol, Manraj S Pharuga, James Darraugh, Luke Sackey, Harry Clark
Venue: Loughborough University Stadium