Accies win Bowl

Captain James Walsh led Sporting Academics from the front as his side beat Madeira after extra time to claim the Jersey FA Bowl crown Picture: DAN ANDRADE

IT was a game befitting the enthralling season-long rivalry between the two promoted sides from JFA Premiership 2 this season.

Finally, Sporting Academics got the better of Madeira to secure the Jersey FA Bowl in a contest that had just about everything.

The scoreline read 4-1 in Accies favour, but it was a fixture that hung in the balance for much of the final, with extra time required to separate these great foes.

Ultimately, pressure told, with Madeira reduced to ten men after just 24 minutes after Rui Vieira was deemed to foul Diogo Franca when the latter was clean through on goal. They then went down to nine in the opening period of extra time.

But the character and fight was there for all to see from the champions, much to the delight of their supporters, who were in fine voice for the entirety of the 120 minutes.

Odinaka Nwokoro, who has played in Bulls colours this season, has found a second home with Accies and, after a flurry of chances, including twice finding the woodwork, he opened the scoring after 62 minutes.

Despite being a man light, Madeira dug deep and found an equaliser in spectacular fashion when Diogo Velosa buried a free kick from range six minutes from time.

But when JEP man of the match and Accies captain James Walsh slotted home a penalty with 15 minutes to play, it was a bridge too far for the short-handed Madeira outfit.

It was a controlled performance in the middle of the park from the veteran who embodied the calm, patient play that his side required to break down a gritty and battling Madeiran outfit.

William Gunnell added a third and Nwokoro put the icing on the cake for a hard-earned Accies win.

Walsh said: “We are really happy. Us and Madeira have tussled all season long, so to get the win in the big one means a lot to us.

“You have to credit them. They’ve been fantastic all season long and I thought they were again on this occasion.

“We had to stay really patient and that was the message at half-time. To use the ball, keep possession and spread the play as much as possible. It was vital to realise we didn’t have to win the game in five minutes.”

Whilst most eyes were rightly drawn to St Clement’s remarkable run of form to secure the Premiership 1 crown, the tussle between these two sides will likely never be seen again.

Level on points after the final round of fixtures and also level on goal difference.

Ultimately, the title went Madeira’s way on goals scored.

Accies have had to watch their old foes succeed season long, including a humbling 6-0 defeat at the semi-final stage of the Tradesmen’s Trophy, which Madeira would go on to win after a come-from-behind victory in the final against St John.

The prospect of both of these sides playing in Premiership 1 next campaign is an exciting one, with many of a mind that the pair will be competitive even after taking the step up.

Walsh added: “As a group we love being around each other. We have a lot of fun playing and I think that’s plain to see when you watch us.

“Most of the guys have already committed to staying on next season, me included. Savo [Jamie Savory] is also going to take the reins again, so these are really exciting times for the club.

“It isn’t always about the result for us. It’s being out there as a family and enjoying the game.

“But after the way in which we lost the season, basically drawing it with Madeira, it felt really nice to bring home some silverware, because all these lads deserve it for their efforts this year.”

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