AFA SENIOR CUP FINAL 2001
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A dramatic injury-time winner from Jon Houghton enabled UCL Academicals to retain the AFA Senior Cup against Polytechnic at Old Wilsonians on Saturday 7th April 2001 on a pleasant spring afternoon.
Early exchanges were fought in midfield and the opening half an hour saw few clear-cut chances. Poly full-back James Black caused early pressure with deep runs down the right, well supported by Matt Smith which put the holders under pressure.
Slowly the Academicals got into the game and a lovely back-header after twenty-five minutes by Houghton was well saved by Julian Viggars diving to his right. Five minutes later Houghton was there again, with close control and a rasping shot just over the bar.
A quick free-kick from Lee Ewing a few minutes later nearly deceived Mark Dawson in the Academicals goal, who pushed the ball around the post for a corner.
Poly at this point were pressurising, but their finishing was awry and after 35 minutes they were punished when Neil Gillard held the ball up well and crossed from the left for Houghton to put the Accies ahead from six yards.
Poly stormed back and only desperate defending by the holders kept them at bay. Missed opportunities could have cost them dear as in first-half injury time, a long throw-in by Martin Woodrow was headed just over by Gillard.
Being behind at the break spurred Poly at the start of the second half and Smith was unlucky to strike the keeper's chest after 52 minutes. Poly had all the possession, but could not break down the Accies defence and on the hour mark could have been punished again, but were saved by a block at the near post by Viggars from Gillard after a good move in the penalty area.
With Smith in imposing form, Poly continued to dominate play and fully deserved their equaliser with a superb strike by Ewing from 25 yards from a free kick.
With five minutes remaining it looked as though Poly would finally take the lead when substitute John Pybus was put through, but a superb last-ditch tackle by Woodrow saved the day.
Extra time looming, a low cross by Gareth Jones struck the thigh of Houghton and looped into the net deep into injury time for the winner.
A 2-1 win was perhaps slightly fortunate for the Academicals, who illustrating the old cliche, showed they knew how to win even when playing badly. Much credit should be given to the Accies' players, and the unfortunate substitutes Matt Field, Brenton Amedee and Lee Pessall, all of whom didn't get to play on the day but have made valuable contributions all season.