Match reports: The Thames Valley Churches Football season came to thrilling climax with two cup finals

In a dramatic end to both TVCFL cup competitions, Tilehurst Albion and South Ealing overcame stern tests to secure victories in the Philmar Cup and Colin Lowery Trophy Finals on Saturday, May 10.

In a dramatic end to both TVCFL cup competitions, Tilehurst Albion and South Ealing overcame stern tests to secure victories in the Philmar Cup and Colin Lowery Trophy Finals on Saturday, May 10.

Lowery Cup Final

Bethel United 1 South Ealing 2

Although currently playing in the Ealing Churches Football League, South Ealing & Brentford were invited to enter the cups last season as part of the league’s 25th anniversary celebrations – the club was one of the League’s founding members in 1988.

Having beaten Reading Saints 1-0 to win the Colin Lowery Trophy last year, they readily accepted the challenge to defend their title this season. Due to the growth of their squad, this season the club had split into two teams: Brentford and South Ealing. Both sides accepted an invitation to join the cup, with South Ealing defeating Brentford in the Quarter-finals.

South Ealing faced a strong Bethel United side who were determined to end a run of five seasons without winning a trophy, having again narrowly lost out on the league title.

The final itself was a tight affair, and one that seemed to match the changing weather conditions.

The match burst to life in the opening minutes as a neat through-ball ran into the path of Phil Waters who coolly slotted past the onrushing Bethel keeper to give South Ealing an early lead.

Despite this setback, Bethel regrouped and as dark rainclouds and driving rain descended upon Binfield, they started to take the initiative and began probing the South Ealing defence.

With half an hour gone, Bethel captain Stu Newton struck the equaliser after South Ealing failed to clear a corner: 1-1.

Bethel continued to dominate but failed to create any further clear-cut chances in first half, with South Ealing unable to launch any further attacks on the Bethel goal.

While everyone dried themselves off at half-time, South Ealing regrouped and, with the sun now shining, they started to play more positively and ask their own questions of the Bethel defence.

With few clear chances being created by either side the game seemed to be destined for extra-time, but, with only 15 minutes to play, Bethel were unable to clear a dangerous cross.

The ball eventually fell again to Phil Waters who thundered a shot from short range in off the crossbar to secure victory and ensure that the Colin Lowery Trophy would be heading to Ealing for the second year in a row.

Philmar Cup

Tilehurst Albion 4 Brookside St Laurence 2

Kerith FC have been cup specialists of late, winning the Philmar Cup three times and finishing runners-up once in the past four seasons. But, having been knocked out by West Reading CFC in the quarter-finals, it provided an opportunity for either Tilehurst Albion or Brookside Saint Laurence to win the Philmar Cup for the first time.

With Brookside Saint Laurence being a dominant force in the League for the past six seasons and Tilehurst Albion the past three, it was a surprise that neither side had won the Philmar Cup before; something that added some extra spice to a game that didn’t need any extra seasoning.

With both teams battling it out to be crowned league champions this season, the cup final was eagerly anticipated by everyone associated with the TVCFL.

After the initial stages of the game there was concern from the neutrals that the game would be a one-sided affair and not the classic final that had been hoped for. Having altered their formation in an attempt to deal with Albion’s formidable attacking line-up, Brookside Saint Laurence found themselves unable to cope as Adam Fay scored two well struck goals inside 20 minutes.

Brookside’s manager Ben Morrison took decisive action, making an early substitution and changing the team’s shape.

This enabled BSL to start putting pressure on Albion and they dragged themselves back into the match just before half-time as Steve Magness beat Albion’s keeper with a firm half-volley after a swift counter-attack.

And it was BSL who started the second-half the brightest and within 10 minutes they found themselves level as Simon Miles scored from close range. With their backs now against the wall, the equaliser spurred Albion back into action and, within five minutes, they had taken the lead again – this time from the boot of Josh Drew who latched onto a clever pass that spilt the BSL defence.

The goal deflated BSL, who had expelled most of their energy pulling themselves back into the game on the wide expansive Binfield FC pitch.

Having let two goals slip, Albion were determined to hang on to this lead and continued to cause BSL problems, with substitute Charlie Baines hitting both the crossbar and post within a five-minute


But it was Josh Drew who settled the match with only minutes left, turning in a cross into an empty goal to enable Albion’s player-manager Michael Herbert to lift the Philmar Cup for the first time.

Pictures: Lynda Bowyer