By Connor Steel
AFC HILL HEAD were celebrating silverware last weekend as they won the Frank & Pat Marsden Challenge Cup, comfortably beating Kings FC 4-2 in a highly watchable Sunday League final played under spring blue skies at Cams Alders, the home of Fareham Town, on April 24.
In front of approximately 150 early and eager spectators the match kicked off just before 10am, the two sides cancelling each other out in a cagey and nervous start; the first half hour seeing only one real chance as the Kings’ winner fired straight at Hill Head keeper from a tight angle following good work down the left side.
But in the second meaningful chance just before half time Kings took the lead as a cross-field pass bounced over the backtracking defender, finding the lone striker who placed a shot beyond the dive of the Hill Head keeper as it rolled slowly into the bottom right corner despite the defender’s best effort.
Hill Head were level in the opening minutes of the second half, a corner delivery into the penalty area curling into the net catching a breeze that deceived the goalkeeper. But Kings went ahead down the other end with the goal of the match, the midfielder collecting a clearance off his chest and fired an unstoppable rocket into the top corner from 25 yards out on the half volley to gain large applause.
But another equaliser for Hill Head arrived on the hour mark as they won a free-kick down the left wing for a soft looking foul, the inswinging delivery bouncing off the hard surface and curling into the bottom corner past a diving keeper helped by a gust of wind through a crowded penalty area.
It was then 3-2 moments later to Hill Head as a shot was parried by the Kings keeper only for an onrushing striker to calmly slot home the rebound; referee Al Gower giving the goal following discussions with his linesman as fans debated a potential foul or offside in the build-up to the finish.
And with Kings attempting to seal an equaliser they were caught on the counter attack, ending in a stonewall penalty for Hill Head after a tired sliding foul from a Kings defenders in the box; the striker smashing it home past a stranded keeper who moved the wrong way to his left.
Substitutes for both sides and injury stoppages then ruined any hopes of a Kings comeback, the game drifting towards its conclusion as the sun got warmer in the open stadium; Hill Head seeing out the 4-2 victory without much fuss or threat despite some Kings’ corners played into the breeze.
And their jubilant players were able to lift the trophy, created in 2016 to honour the life of Gosport & Fareham League Treasurer Frank Marsden and his wife Pat; both spending decades in the sport at local and grassroots level throughout the generation to become Life Vice Presidents for their services.
The competition features teams from the Gosport, Fareham & Solent League with four divisions, a format created in 2013 after combining two leagues; the Gosport & Fareham League and the Solent Football League. It is currently affiliated to the Hampshire Football Association Limited and is also a member of the Portsmouth Divisional Football Association (PDFA).