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Round-up of the latest action from Stamford Strollers' walking football team

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Stamford Strollers' Over 65s walking football team are through to the national finals.

They will be competing at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire on Sunday, September 18, in the Pharmacy2U WFA finals day.

The Strollers secured their place after travelling to Norwich for the Eastern regional final where they faced last year’s beaten finalists in the national cup, Norwich SOCA.

The Stamford Strollers teams who took part in the Corby tournament. (58442599)
The Stamford Strollers teams who took part in the Corby tournament. (58442599)

The two teams were well matched and the game was played in an excellent spirit with no players on either side receiving blue card infringement warnings.

Strollers were uncustomarily slow out of the blocks and two mistakes in the first 10 minutes of the match put the Norwich striker clean through on goal with only keeper Bill Whittle to beat.

On both occasions Bill managed to pull off tremendous saves to deny Norwich the lead.

Norwich made three substitutions after just 10 minutes of the game and nearly paid a heavy price as this led to Strollers taking complete control of proceedings.

But for four outstanding saves by the Norwich keeper, Stamford could have had the game won by half-time.

As it was, after a surprisingly goalless first half, the second period was end-to-end stuff with Norwich hitting the post before Strollers did the same with just 30 seconds of normal time remaining.

In a tense extra period neither side managed to create anything of note so the game was decided on penalties.

The shoot-out led to more drama. Norwich won the toss and, though their first effort hit the net, it was disallowed as the player took more than the one metre approach allowed under WFA laws.

Graham Curry then put Strollers 1-0 ahead and, although Norwich levelled the scores with their second attempt, Gerry Monaghan converted his kick for a 2-1 lead for Strollers.

Bill Whittle then pulled off a great save to deny Norwich so Strollers won 2-1 on penalties.

Strollers sent two teams - Reds and Whites - to compete in the annual Corby Over 50s tournament on Sunday.

Both teams made it out of their respective groups and into the knock-out stages of the competition with the Reds being agonisingly eliminated at the semi-final stage on penalties, while the Whites exited one round earlier in their quarter-final in normal time.

The Reds competed in Group A of the tournament and finished that stage with a record of three wins and two draws.

A tight game with Brackley Town ended in a goalless draw, although the Reds felt aggrieved that this match didn't end in a win when Colin Barrett won the ball from a defender and had what appeared to be legitimate goal ruled out by the referee for a running infringement.

They started the next game strongly against Harborough Hornets Greens and were quickly on the front foot, taking command of the game with two early goals from Tim Marsden and Colin Barrett.

A late strike from Jez Norris completed a comprehensive win for Strollers who faced Rushden & Diamonds in their next outing.

Despite the close 1-0 scoreine, this was in fact another very commanding performance by the Reds, decided by an excellent goal resulting from a free flowing passing move which included every player on the pitch before Norris finished strongly into the bottom corner.

After the goal was scored the Reds controlled the game with some great passing to keep the ball and starve Rushden of possession.

They then defeated hosts Corby Town 2-0 after taking control following a dangerous start by the Steelmen.

Iain Ross and Barrett were their goalscorers after a very solid performance and another three points.

The hardest group game was against Northampton Clarets which finished in a goalless draw.

Northampton came into the match with four straight wins under their belts and they were in command for much of the match.

The Reds struggled to move the ball in the way they had in their previous group games, but the defensive resilience of Tim Marsden and Iain Ross, coupled with some excellent keeping from Paul Newiss, kept the two Clarets strikers at bay throughout and secured a well deserved record of five clean sheets in five group games.

Having finished second behind Northampton Clarets in the group, the Reds moved on to a quarter-final against a strong Harborough Hornets Yellow team.

This was a pulsating encounter which they won 4-3 with Hornets Yellows proving to be extremely tough opponents.

In an end to end game, the Reds traded goals with Harborough but were never behind in a game which they eventually won courtesy of some excellent goals from Iain Ross, Jez Norris and Colin Barrett (two).

The semi-final against Moulton Masters was very much a cat and mouse game with neither team giving much away in the early stages.

A great move involving Lee Tillen and Norris did result in Tillen scoring with a great finish to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

However, it was a lead that was not to last as a quick passing move by the Masters lads provided an equaliser.

With the final score at 1-1 and with no extra time period for the tournament, the result was decided on penalties which the Reds lost 3-2.

It was an unfortunate way to end their run in the tournament but credit must go to all of the Reds players who put in some great performances, especially considering they completed all seven matches without a substitute due to a late injury withdrawal which robbed them of an extra man.

Reds: Paul Newiss (GK), Iain Ross, Tim Marsden (captain), Lee Tillen, Jez Norris, Colin Barrett.

The Whites' matches were played in a good spirit but overall they didn't quite perform to the levels they would have liked.

Defensively it was a challenge against some of the better teams, but it was pleasing to note there was never a lack of effort or willingness to keep looking for the ball.

They were drawn in Group B and started the event with a default 3-0 win against a no-show side from FC Aztec Rothwell.

A battling 1-1 draw followed against Corby Town Stripes where the Whites grew into the game after a shaky start and falling behind to an assist from a 'moving' goalpost!

Chances didn’t quite go in for the Whites until Jez Hammant stepped up and grabbed a deserved point late on with a left foot beauty.

A special mention to Brian Dunkerley who had a terrific game in this match.

A narrow 2-1 defeat followed against Northampton Whites where the Strollers should have been able to take a point.

Andy Ward scored a confident penalty, but Paul Giffin was simply kept too busy and, despite his valiant efforts, the lack of defensive protection ultimately cost Whites the game.

The 2-0 defeat in a difficult game against Moulton Masters was probably a fair result.

The Whites had the benefit of a disallowed Moulton goal, but then conceded a penalty under pressure.

A 'Russo inspired' back-heeled through ball to the Moulton striker made it two while Giffen made some great saves once again to keep the scoreline respectable.

The final match saw Harborough Hornets Yellows provide some typically tough competition.

Unfortunately, in a bid to push forward, there was again a lack of cover for goalkeeper Paul Giffen and Whites fell 2-0 behind.

However, Les Wood wasn't ready to call it a day just yet and scored a fine individual goal to make it 2-1 which was the final score.

After the final whistle, Whites learned that they were through to the quarter-finals where they were beaten 5-0 by Northampton Clarets.

A 5-0 defeat in just 15 minutes of play was frustrating for a well beaten Whites team who represented themselves and Stamford Strollers positively throughout.

Paul Giffin was their player of the tournament and it was excellent to see him back so strong following a while out with injury

Whites: Paul Giffen (GK), Ian Baxter, Jez Hammant, Les Woods, Brian Dunkerley, Andy Ward, Paul Archer.

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