Cirencester Town Legends 3

RAF Legends 2

THE Cirencester Town Legends just edged a good-spirited and enjoyable charity encounter against their RAF counterparts in aid of Help For Heroes when three goals in the last five minutes produced a rousing finale.

As tiredness led to fatigue and then near-exhaustion, it was Cirencester who claimed the winner in the 90th minute.

The trio of current names on the Cirencester Town roster, suitably inspired by the Dad’s Army theme tune before the game, all acquitted themselves with credit.

Chairman Steve ‘Abbo’ Abbley sent in a series of teasing right wing crosses that, unfortunately, none of his strikers could anticipate, before leaving the field after half an hour to count the gate/burger bar receipts.

Manager Brian ‘Hughesy’ Hughes’s pre-match boast that he had given away the ball just four times in his entire football career was rarely under threat of further blemish as he never put a pass out of place.

When a series of lung-busting runs forward from midfield were not picked out by his colleagues, Hughes settled for a more quiet life on the right of midfield in place of the injured Abbley.

Meanwhile, coach Kevin ‘Wilbur’ Willetts was marshalling his troops like Napoleon in midfield.

Willetts proceeded to confuse the opposition in Town’s ever-flexible formation, turning up in a variety of positions from wide right to back four to striker. Wilbur was also responsible for the champagne moment of the game when he and the much loftier RAF captain, Warrant Officer Tony ‘Dunny’ Dunn challenged full tilt for a cross and ended up in an unsightly heap.

After periods of phoney war, Highworth boss Dave Webb who had a busy and industrious game, thought he had put Ciren in front in the 17th minute but his passable impression of Thierry Henry had not fooled the officials and the ‘goal’ was ruled out for handball.

Corporal Darren Shalliker, who once graced the Conference and the Scottish Third Division with Elgin City and enjoyed a lively first half for the RAF, then beat Neil ‘Hardsy’ Hards with a delightful left foot curler, only to see it come back off the bar.

The first goal came in the 27th minute when Willetts bravely put his head in where angels fear to tread, benefited from a fortuitous ricochet, and then finished off with panache.

The arrival of Fairford Town manager Richard Hadgkiss for Abbley soon after reintroduced the concept of football as a contact sport as he brought with him the first tackles (and fouls) of the game.

Within seconds of the restart, Hadgkiss turned provider, finding Webb on the edge of the box and the wily grey fox was unlucky to see his rasping effort hit the bar.

After RAF goalie, Sergeant Phil Harris had saved at full stretch from Willetts, Cirencester took the charitable nature of the match too literally when Hadgkiss missed two golden chances.

They could have rued those opportunities because Flight Sergeant Steve ‘Tappy’ Tapp tip-toed around Hards to score the equaliser in the 69th minute.

Deciding to take things into his own hands, Andy ‘Minno’ Minturn vacated his centre back role to move up front for Ciren but was twice foiled by the brave Harris.

Hadgkiss then made amends for his earlier misses when putting the hosts in front in the 85th minute after neat work on the byline by Webb.

The RAF, showing true Battle of Britain spirit, refused to accept defeat and were flying again within 60 seconds when Sergeant Peter Lehair sent an unstoppable drive past Hards.

Former Centurion Darren Robison then tried to put the RAF in front on a rare kamikaze mission in attack.

Early in the game, Robo, who now features more regularly on the fairways of Cirencester Golf Club where he has been club champion, had spent several seconds on his knees.

It appeared he was practising the panther-like, putt-lining technique of Camilo Villegas; in fact, he just showing his disgust at a misplaced pass.

But Robo turned (Arjen) Robben for a moment, shimmying past two defenders with ease before forcing a good save out from Hards.

It was to no avail, however as, maintaining the golfing theme, Ian Howell , brother of top professional David, brought the RAF down to earth in the last minute after more good work from man of the match Willetts.

Cirencester Town Legends: Neil Hards, Ray Baverstock, Andy Minturn, Martin Blackler, Gus Fraser, Steve Abbley, Brian Hughes, Kevin Willetts, Ian Howell, Justin Miller, Dave Webb. Subs: Richard Hadgkiss, Mark Saunders.

RAF Legends: Phil Harris, Paul Wheable, Michael Santos, Mark Mallinson, Craig Gill, Tony Dunn, Peter Lehair, Darren Shalliker, Steve Tapp, Darren Robison,Dave Selkald. Subs: Ian Shaw, Martin Wilkinson.