Emdad Rahman : Gants Hill FC won The Champions League Cup on another pulsating night of football as they overcame Mile End FC 3-2 to complete the league and cup double in their debut season.
Having snatched the league title last week on goal difference from Mile End, the two teams came face to face in the cup final as Mile End looked to end the season on a high and win the cup for the second season running.
However, their opponents were not to be undone and despite being pegged back to 2-2 they eventually scored the all important winner through Mus who had another productive night in front of goal.
With the tension building before the game with supporters of both teams as well as neutrals turning out to watch the final, it was no surprise that there was a very cautious start to the game.
As both teams passed the ball around, Gants Hill wingers Haider and Samir caused all sorts of problems for Lee in the heart of the Mile End defence. With both teams gaining momentum, Mile End found Gants Hill’s player of the season Bilal breaking up play as they tried to find a way forward for themselves.
Midway through the first half, Samir opened the scoring for Gants Hill as he was played in delightfully with just the keeper to beat and he made no mistake from just outside the box to put Gants Hill 1-0 up.
As Mile End looked to regroup, they fell behind to a second goal just before the half time whistle as Mus continued his excellent scoring form to put Gants Hill in the driving seat.
With Mile End still looking to really test Abrar in the Gants Hill goal, they decided to change things around in the second half and put Lee up front to try and find goals to turn this game around. The move seemed to be a stroke of genius from manager Hussain as Mile End hit back early in the second half through Shah who finished neatly past Abrar with their first real attack on goal to halve the deficit.
Mile End were now in the ascendency and Naz scored an excellent second shrugging off Haider to draw the game level and leave the Gants Hill players and supporters stunned.
With the game now firmly in the balance, there were a few heated exchanges as both sets of players were now intent on trying to win the game. Naz was lucky not have received a caution as he pulled back Haider who was bearing down on goal while at the other end, Mas was also lucky to get away with a referees warning as he took down Lee.
As the game wore on and many guessing that it may well go down to a penalty shoot out, it was Gants Hill’s prolific goal scorer Mus who cheekily chipped onrushing keeper Mus to put Gants Hill in the lead once again.
As the Mile End players tried their best to pull something back from the remaining time left, a quick free kick from Charles in the dying moments of the game ricocheted off a Gants Hill defender as they dug deep to preserve their lead.
Jubilant scenes followed the final whistle as Gants Hill added The Champions League Cup to their league honours to complete a league and cup double win in their debut season.
Earlier that same evening Newham Generals won The Champions League Shield courtesy of their victory over Forest Gate FC.
Manager Sim stuck with the players that have been so loyal to him over the course of another season and were rewarded for their efforts as they won the Shield trophy.
League organisers Shaz Rahman and Habs Rahman commented after the game: ‘Another great night of football in The Champions League Cup Final. At 2-2, it could have gone either way and Gants Hill were stunned as they looked to be running away with it at one point, but they persevered and Mus’ goal was worthy of winning any game.
‘Congratulations to the Gants Hill players and their manager Atif for all his hard work throughout the season and commiserations to manager Hussain and his Mile End team who have come runners up in both the league and cup this season. Thank you to all the teams, the players and supporters alike who have made for another excellent season as we look forward to Season 4.’
League Champions – Gants Hill FC
League Cup Champions – Gants Hill FC
League Shield Champions – Newham Generals
Golden Boot – Akram (JIFA FC) 17 goals
Player of the season – Bilal (Gants Hill FC)
Golden Gloves – Rakib (Mile End FC)
Fair Play award – JIFA FC
The Champions League – 7 a side football league www.leaguewebsite.co.uk/thechampionsleague