Staffordshire FA Sunday Challenge Cup Final
The Staffordshire Knot 1 Victoria 5
at Stafford Rangers FC
Thursday 23rd March 2017
While Staffordshire settled first and looked the most likely to open the scoring, a sensational strike from Craig Bannister put Victoria 1-0 ahead on 12 minutes with a long range shot that looped over the keeper and in off the far post.
Staffordshire were rattled and, for a short spell, were looking vulnerable at the back and went 2 goals behind from a corner when Joe Clarke rose to head home a right wing cross.
Victoria sensed more goals and they were soon 3-0 ahead when Chad Birch took off on a run a towards the penalty area and just when it looked like the chance was gone after the keeper made the initial block, he slotted the ball home under the retreating defender to give Staffordshire a mountain to climb with only 22 minutes gone.
The game settled down after that crazy ten minute spell and Staffordshire had chances before the break to bring themselves back into the tie but some wayward finishing left Victoria’s keeper largely untested.
Just before the break an unsavoury incident just in front of the dugouts saw Chad Birch and Matthew Swift receive yellow cards for an off the ball ‘discussion’ with Staffordshire’s manager and assistant manager sent to the stands for their part in the melee that followed.
Second half saw Staffordshire attacking with purpose and they deserved their goal in the 57th minute when Mike Keates bundled home from close range and they were back in the game with hopes of a comeback reignited.
That hope almost instantly disappeared just five minutes later when Craig Caddy was sent off after a foul on Chad Birch was deemed to be denying on obvious goalscoring opportunity and the resultant free-kick was smashed into the net by Bannister for his second.
All that was left was for Bannister to complete his hat-trick on 68 minutes and for Victoria to see out the remainder of the game and lift the trophy to become Staffordshire FA Sunday Challenge Cup Champions!