Bemerton Heath Harlequins and Laverstock and Ford FC threw themselves at each other (literally, at times) in the semi-final of the Salisbury Hospital Cup.
In wet conditions and with plenty of opportunity for sliding tackles, home side Bemerton won 3-2 after Jack Slade’s decider with minutes left on the clock.
The game kicked off with intensity worthy of a derby, which continued throughout, but even though beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, the game is not likely to go down as one of the better played ones.
But in a glimpse of excellence, Laverstock’s Russell Jones drew first blood by receiving a high long ball (one of the evening’s many), volleying it over the goalie and heading the ball into the net.
The visiting side held most of the ball for some time after their goal, but both teams managed to create some opportunities until a collision on Lavvy’s half resulted in a Bemerton free kick.
The kick reached Jamie Smith at the far post who re-directed the ball to the other corner of the goal to make it one-all.
Rain, long balls, sliding tackles, and no backing down from either teams, summarised the first half.
The heat continued to rise in the second half and the words ’how many more?’ echoed, after yet another player was brought down.
Bemerton was the first team to strike as a Laverstock defender misjudged the bounce (it was wet and slippery) on a long ball that reached Jack Slade who made no mistake against the lone keeper.
After some more scrapping, it felt like anything could happen at any time, and it was Lavvy’s captain who stepped up.
The away side was awarded a free kick not far from the box on the left side of the goal.
Adam Bourner used his right foot to curve the ball beautifully a few feet off the ground around the wall and into the far corner to tie up the game 2-2.
Outside of the fouls, the ball moved quickly from coast to coast for the remainder of the game and neither team could control the ball for long.
The winning goal came with just minutes left after a corner reached Jack Slade who once again found the net through Laverstock legs.
It was perhaps not the most well-played clash, but it was indeed a clash worthy of a derby in which both teams refused to back down. Bemerton moves on to the final, where they face either Amesbury Town FC, Salisbury FC, or Shaftesbury FC.
Edit: Laverstock deserves more credit as they fought hard to almost take down home side Bemerton, currently residing one league above them in the Premier Divison. Further, Laverstock started the game with four 17-year-olds, which is a feat on its own at this level.