DE MONTFORT School in Evesham hosted the first football event of its kind in England as a new adult nine-a-side competition took centre stage.
The event was held in conjunction with the Football Association and matches were played on astroturf using half of a normal sized football pitch and full laws of the game, with some minor tweeks for restarts and with a duration of 30 minutes each way.
The hope was to attract current teams to compete, including leisure groups and teams considering forming a team to play 11-a-side, and these goals were achieved as two new teams entered the Evesham Sunday League and Stratford Alliance.
The format was similar to the Champions League, with league matches in two groups as teams played each other once. When the top four in each group was established, the knockout stage saw top of Group A play fourth of Group B and so on in the quarter-finals.
The knockout stages produced some very close matches and not all results went the way the group positions would have suggested, whilst penalty shoot-outs added to the drama.
Finals night saw a repeat of the first week of matches with what looked like the strongest side – Jacksons Fairfield – progressing to the final with a 6-2 win against Fortis, whilst the other semi-final saw the popular Growers United lose to Armada.
The final brought together the two winning teams from the league stages and both were undefeated. Jacksons Fairfield started strongly and moved into a 2-0 lead, but their dominance was halted just before half time when player of the tournament ‘Encho’ fired low into the corner of the net.
A clever headed effort made it 2-2 in the second half and Armada then took a 3-2 lead through a deflected shot, which seemed to knock the stuffing out of Jacksons Fairfield.
Moving into the last five minutes, a poor tackle resulted in the award of a penalty to Jacksons Fairfield and it was converted to make it 3-3 and take the final to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Armada scored four very confident kicks, whilst Jacksons Fairfield hit the woodwork with their first and fourth kicks, meaning Armada could commence joyous celebrations as they were crowned champions.
Growers United were victorious in the third and fourth place play-off.