Hereford Lads Club 2-3 Stone Old Alleynians
Stone Old Alleynians secured promotion following a dramatic second-half comeback away at Hereford Lads Club. The Old Boys were trailing two-nil at half time, but goals from Jack Thorley, Callum Moloney and Matt Thomas secured the vital points.
Manager Matt Smith was delighted with his side: “It’s a fantastic achievement being promoted, and it’s even better with the late winner today to send us up.” said Smith.
“I’m really proud of the everyone who has been involved this season, and we thoroughly deserve it. What is great as well is that almost all of the squad, including myself and Bob (Askey-Director of Football) are Stone lads, which makes the achievement even greater.
“We have had to do it the hard way today, but I wouldn’t change it, the last minute goals we have scored this season have been crucial, and make results even sweeter.
“We have a cup final at Molineux to look forward to as well, so we will savour the promotion and hopefully have a trophy to put in the cabinet come the end of the season.” he added.
The Old Boys fell behind early on, when a Hereford corner was swung deep into the box and was headed home powerfully at the far post. And it could have been worse for the visitors shortly after, but for a superb reflex save from Lewis Paglia.
Stone managed to get hold of possession and get themselves a foothold in the game, and came close through Sam Wilson, Luke Askey and Danny Heard, but their efforts were all dealt with by the Hereford keeper.
And on the stroke of half-time, the visitors surrendered possession in their own half, and a mis-hit cross fell perfectly to the Hereford winger, who doubled their lead.
Dean Buckley was sent on at half time for the Old Boys, who dominated the start of the second period, but it was the arrival of Matt Thomas, for the injured Sam Wilson on the hour mark that proved the turning point.
Thomas beat his man before firing in a powerful shot that was parried into the path of Thorley who made no mistake in halving the deficit.
Then Thorley played in Buckley down the right-hand side, and the substitute cut the ball back to Moloney, who adjusted his body superbly before slamming the ball into the back of the net to level the scores.
Substitute Carl Dibden went close to winner with a lob that went narrowly over, but in the dying minutes Sam Hodgkinson played in Thomas who continued his season of scoring important late goals, by firing into the top corner from an acute angle.
There was still time for the home-side to be reduced to ten men, aiding the Stone cause of clinging onto the win.
And there were wild celebrations in the changing room when news came through of nearest rivals St Martins loss at Wrens Nest, confirming Alleynians promotion.
Stone OA: Paglia, Bigham (Buckley), Moloney, Whalley, Taylor, Askey(c), Wilson (Thomas), J Thorley, Tomkinson (Dibden), D Heard, Hodgkinson