Illness and injury took a toll on the Strollers' squad for this semi-final stage.
Ian Henson and John Hutchins joined the squad to replace Jez and Paul, both out through illness (our best regards to both of them). Both Taff L and Ian H were carrying knee injuries going into this too so we were up against it.
Despite this the Strollers were competitive in every game, drawing two games and losing two. Sadly then we were eliminated from the competition but the lads can be proud of the progress that we made in this tournament. When you conside that we have a population of 20k in Stamford and were up against teams from Norwich (285k), Bedford (165k), Cambridge (125k), Colchester (105k) and Boston (65k) we can truly hold our heads high. With a little more composure in front of goal and a little more lady luck we could easily have been in the top two and playing for a place in the finals.
We started with a predictably tight game against Lincolnshire rivals Boston. This was a close match and honours shared. Next up were a Bedford side that included an excellent forward. Kurt Garbutt marked him out of the game though but we fell to one lapse of concentration when we did not cover off a free kick which they tucked away into the corner.of the goal. A 1-0 defeat in another tight game.
The next game we went down 3-0 to Colchester. A strange game and not as one sided as the score suggested. Concentration was not helped by the skipper Taff Lovesey receiving a red card with a Colchester player for retaliation after a tackle from behind.
The final game was against top of the table Norwich City and once again it was a tight affair. Without Taff due to the earlier red card and Ian, due to a knee injury, we were down to a bare five but the lads that played were superb coming back with a late Kurt Garbutt goal to draw 1-1.
If I had to choose a man of the tournament for Strollers it would be Trevor Oliver who made some excellent saves in almost every game and was not at fault for any of the goals.
Strollers 0:0 Boston Utd
Strollers 0:1 Bedford
Strollers 0:3 Colchester Utd
Strollers 1:1 Norwich City (K Garbutt)
Squad: T Oliver, T Lovesey, A Noble, K Garbutt, I Henson, W Barrett, J Hutchins