Grantham & District Saturday League
Blue Pig 1
Ancaster Rams 2
Defending Ancaster Rams won a thrilling league decider to retain the title on Thursday night, which would have seemed an impossibility midway through the season.
Ancaster went into the game against the Blue Pig needing a win to clinch a tightly fought league. And they snatched the title from long term leaders Beehive United by a single point at the end of a 13-game winning streak, which included three cup final victories.
With the likes of Martin Wormall, Kenny Doll, Ricky Davies, Chris Robinson and Luke Harley missing from the final league match ,it was always going to be a big ask against a very competitive Blue Pig side that eventually finished a commendable third in their first season in the league.
And it was the Pig who went in front on 15 minutes with a stunning 35-yard thunderbolt from Matt Turner that left the Rams veteran goalkeeper Warren Selby pawing at thin air as it struck the top corner. Blue Pig then had another chance but this was turned over the bar by Turner.
But Ancaster bounced back on the half hour mark when A.K. levelled from just inside the box. Rams then had a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot, after A.K. was hacked down in the area, but a fantastic save from the Pig’s keeper stopped Matt Hodgson’s effort.
But ‘Hodgie’ had the last laugh with a Van Basten-like strike from a Wayne Martini free kick to put Rams in front.
Ancaster made and missed opportunities to put the game to bed in the second half, the best and easiest chance falling to Antiono Nurse who somehow hit the post from two yards out in front of an open goal.
Blue Pig went down to 10 after a rash challenge on Steve Young, but were still able to push Ancaster back. However, the Rams were not be denied and fought tooth and nail, none more so than Jordan Stinson and Thomas Matthews and held on to win the game and back-to-back league titles.
The feat was all the more remarkable with a side labelled by many as too old and past it, players like Dazza Parker, Jon Duffy, Ricky Davies, Kenny Doll, Colin Howe, Wayne Martini, Adam Fenton and Warren Selby – all into their 30s and 40s – peppered with a few youngsters such as Liam Probert, Brad Webster and Sam Knight.
Their fantastic season also included a 4-0 victory over Aslockton Cranmers in the HITS Consultancy Senior Knockout Cup Final, in which man-of-the-match was Adam Fenton, beating Greyhounders 2-0 in the Grantham Hospital Charity Cup Final (MoM Jack Night), and triumphing 5-3 over the Blue Pig in the Memorial Cup Final.
The club expressed its thanks to all the sponsors that have helped make Ancaster a successful side this season: Ancaster Butchers, Quantas Bathrooms, Bailey Trailers and Ancaster SSC; plus all the fantastic backroom staff, helpers and friends – Gav Harley, Dan Brister, Hammo, Towny, Robbo, Terry Burt, Kev, Bazza and Lesley E. Harley.