RAF Wyton Football Club Cup Final vs RAFC Cranwell
An excellent season for RAF Wyton culminated in the team finishing runners-up in the league, followed by their appearance in the Lincolnshire Services Division Two League Cup Final at Sincil Bank, home of Lincoln City Football Club.
Cranwell are a ‘notorious’ cup team, and we expected them to bring a much stronger team than the one Wyton had beaten twice in the league, and which had finished bottom of Division Two, so the final had all the makings of an exciting cup tie …and so it was to prove.
As with most cup finals, the match opened at a frantic pace, both teams initially nervous and taking their time to find their stride. With Cranwell utilising their wide players well, Wyton struggled to cope with their 3-5-2 formation. However, tactical changes allowed Wyton to get a foothold in the game, and in the 35th minute they were unfortunate not to take the lead, Ross Thomson lobbing the keeper only to see his effort bounce off the crossbar. Although arguably the stronger side towards the end of the first half, Wyton conceded a goal on the stroke of half-time, keeper Tom Culshaw having no chance of saving a terrific Cranwell goal.
After the break Wyton surprised even themselves, quickly getting back on to level terms through a rare Ben Morris goal. Following the 48th minute equaliser, Wyton then took the lead 5 minutes later through a fine Ross Thomson strike. 55 minutes on the clock and it was 3-1 to Wyton, an excellent passing move between Ross Thomson and Matt Foster giving Ross a tap-in for his second goal of the match.
Despite a fantastic 10 minutes of football from the Division Two Runners-up, which had seen them completely turn the tie around, Cranwell grabbed a goal back in the 70th minute with another fine strike from the edge of the penalty area. With several Wyton players suffering with tiredness and cramp, the team struggled to hold back wave upon wave of Cranwell attacks. However, in spite of conceding a devastating 80th minute equaliser, Wyton managed to hang on until the full time whistle.
Although Wyton started the first period of extra time well, disaster struck in the 100th minute, Cranwell scoring a fourth to complete the game’s second turnaround. With Wyton themselves only managing to create a couple of half scoring chances in the second period of extra time, Cranwell effectively killed off the match in the 116th minute with their 5th goal of the afternoon, crushing any hopes Wyton had of becoming champions. Cranwell were 5-3 winners after extra time.
While Cranwell were deserved champions in what was a thrilling cup final, Wyton fought tirelessly throughout, and showed incredible character to turn the match around in those 10 minutes after half time. Despite the disappointing end to what has been a very good season for RAF Wyton Football Club, the day did end on a positive note as Ross Thomson was presented with the League’s Best Player and Top Scorer awards; an excellent achievement for both individual and team.
Tremendous credit must go to the team and the management for Wyton’s runner-up positions in both league and cup, especially after being unable to raise a team to fulfil fixtures last season. Much of this credit must go to outgoing team manager Adam Hankinson, who has done a fantastic job in rebuilding the team over the past season, and he will be sorely missed. He leaves the club in a very healthy position, one eager to compete for promotion back into Division One under the guidance of incoming manager Geoff McGrail.
by Cpl Will Riding