Binfield 1 Wokingham & Emmbrook 2
An extra-time winner from James Charlton saw Wokingham and Emmbrook fight back to lift the Reading Invitational Senior Cup for a fourth successive season this afternoon.
James Gibbs had earlier cancelled out Callum Whitty’s 16th-minute opener for the Moles at Madejski Stadium, with centre-back Charlton popping up to nod home Nick Bateman’s corner late into the second half of the additional 30 minutes.
A healthy crowd was present at the home of Reading FC and they were treated to a game which had everything: goals, two red cards, a missed penalty and late drama.
It was a Binfield side that finished sixth in the Hellenic Premier Division last term who edged the early exchanges – and they broke the deadlock just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark when defender Whitty nodded Josh Howell’s inviting centre from the right past Sean Woodward and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Whitty was lucky to remain on the pitch moments later, receiving only a caution when wrestling Luke Scope to the ground as the Sumas striker made his way goalwards.
The closest their opponents came to an equaliser in the opening half was when Scope capitalised on a slip by Whitty and set up Dan Collier, who was unable to keep his effort down.
So it was Binfield, managed by former Wokingham boss Roger Herridge, who held the lead going into the break, but they were pegged back just seconds after the restart when Gibbs’ inswinging corner evaded everyone in the box and nestled in the back of the net.
Seb Bowerman, Dave Woozley and Jemel Johnson all failed to test Woodward with chances, while Dan Collier was denied at the other end as both teams continued to cancel each other out.
It was Binfield, though, who were awarded the chance to regain the lead when Whitty was upended in the box from a corner, with the referee pointing to the spot.
The same player took the responsibility from 12 yards, but in trying to coolly slot a shot into the corner, Whitty managed to horribly drag his effort wide of a post.
The heat on a tense, but open, game was then cranked up when Gibbs and opponent Ian Davies saw red for an off-the-ball incident.
The Wokingham full-back was dismissed for his reaction to an aerial challenge by striker Davies, who was following him down the tunnel having been sent off for retaliation.
Both teams continued to have a real go at one another as extra time loomed, but it was Binfield players, staff and supporters alike who were twice left with their head in hands when Woodward palmed Bowerman’s low drive into the path of Josh Pearson, who sent the rebound on to the top of the crossbar.
Substitute Aaron Rowland spurned a great chance early into the additional 90 minutes, dwindling on the ball when slipped in by another replacement, Josh Sapsed – who cracked the bar with a header soon after as Binfield looked the more likely to score next.
Wokingham, operating in a 4-5-1 formation, though, defended doggedly and used the counter attack to great affect.
And it was one surge forward involving Scope and substitute Elliott Rushfoth, which led to the winner. Having worked his way into space down the left flank, Scope squared the ball to strike partner Rushforth, who was denied a shot at goal by a brilliant recovery tackle from Carl Withers.
But it was from the resulting corner where Charlton shrugged off his marker to meet Bateman’s flag kick and nod powerfully past Dan Weait in the Binfield goal to spark jubilant scenes among the Sumas’ faithful.
Victory means the side continue to keep hold of the cup they have now successfully defended since 2012.
And with the Hellenic Division 1 East title and promotion back to Step Five football already in the bag, Wokingham and Emmbrook have double the reason to celebrate this summer.
Binfield: Weait, Lumb (Sapsed), Luis, Connor (Pearson), Woozley (c), Whitty, Howell, Withers, Davies, Johnson (Rowland), Bowerman.
Wokingham and Emmbrook: Woodward, Dance, Gibbs, Day, Cooke (O’Connor), Yeatman, N.Bateman, Scope, Butler (c) (Harley), Collier (Rushforth)
Goals: Gibbs, Charlton.
- Pick up your copy of The Wokingham Paper this Friday for more pictures and full reaction from the game, just 50p.