Match Report: Super Mario Esposito is the hero as FC Handsworth Turf taste glory in final of Junior Cup

FC Handsworth Turf celebrate
FC Handsworth Turf celebrate
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A late winner from Mario Esposito for FC Handsworth Turf sealed a 2-1 victory over Upton Wrangbrook and ensured they lifed the Sunday Junior Cup at a windy Bracken Moor.

FC Handsworth took the lead when Ben Shackshaft knocked in Perry Jackson’s cross in the first half.

Jamie Bettison levelled it up just after the hour mark, but it was Mario Esposito’s 13th goal of the cup campaign in the final ten minutes of the game which prevented the game going in to extra time.

A fantastic attendance of over 200 fans were at the game, cheering the two teams on. Handsworth started well and should have scored in the first five minutes.

Jackson played in Danny Wilson who had a one-on-one chance with the ‘keeper, but Conor Bolton made an excellent save down to his right.

Bolton was then thankful to Adam Wolfe who cleared the ball off the line after Jackson’s rebound looked destined for the bottom corner. Upton were looking to capitalise on the windy conditions by using their height from corners and free kicks, and it nearly worked when Carl Haywood saw his volley cleared off the line from a corner.

Moments later, there was a terrific goalmouth scramble in the Handsworth penalty area but somehow the defence was able to clear.

Just before half-time Handsworth made Upton Wrangbrook pay for those missed chances when Jackson nipped in front of Haywood after a short goal kick.

He then drove down the line and whipped the ball to the back post for Shackshaft, who had time to chest the ball down and slot home.

Upton were fired up in the second half and looked most likely to score next with Ricky Gaskell causing all sorts of problems for the Handsworth defence.

It was Gaskell who came closest when Mark Lynch and Liam Womersley linked up well on half way to play in Gaskell who only had the keeper to beat; but his shot was straight at Liam Richardson.

Wilson then hit the bar when he met Shackshaft’s cross.

But Gaskell then set up the leveller when his low centre from the right was met by substitute Bettison at the back post, who managed to poke the ball past Richardson.

The game was end to end with chances falling to both teams, but good defending and goalkeeping kept the score level.

And with just minutes of normal time remaining, and with extra-time looming, it was Handsworth who snatched the winner. The impressive Shackshaft played a throughball to Esposito, who raced past the defence and rounded Bolton to tuck the ball into an empty net.

This left Upton Wrangbrook with little time to respond and it got worse when Todd Williamson was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Turf managed to hold on, despite of the resilience of a tough Upton side, and manager Adam Johnson praised his young Italian striker and said the dressing room was buzzing after the dramatic win.

He said: “When I saw that Mario was one-on-one I had no doubt that he would score because he’s done it all year.

“He’s cool, calm, collected... and Italian.”

On a very windy day, the game was a credit to both sides and Sheffield & Hallamshire CFA would like to thank Allen Bethel and all the backroom team at Stocksbridge for staging the game.

A league spokesperson also thanked the team of officials for their help on the day.

Michael Warner was referee, assisted by Andrew Jarvis and Gareth Davies. Michael Brown acted as fourth official.