WESTFIELD FC crowned a superb season after beating Epsom & Ewell 4-1 in the final of the 2016-17 Premier Challenge (League) Cup, writes Andy Fitzsimons.
It was another emphatic display from Tony Reid’s side (5 May ’17), who went one better than their league position to lay claim to some silverware.
Prior to the match, The Yellows’ boss boldly predicted a four or five-goal demolition of their opponents at Windsor FC; and true to form, he was right.
With goalkeeper Gary Ross still suspended, Reid’s SOS plea for a replacement goalkeeper was answered by Ryman League club Tooting and Mitcham, who made available Matt Pierson for the cup fixture.
Aaron Watson opened the scoring for Westfield after just four minutes, before James Cottee doubled The Yellows’ advantage just shy of the interval through a magnificent glancing header at the near post.
Top scorer Max Blackmore then notched his 44th goal of the season midway through the second half. And there was still time for Adam Bellmaine to round things off in the 81st minute.
Darryl Cooper-Smith managed to score a late stoppage-time consolation goal from close range, but it was not enough stop Westfield’s celebrations long into the night.
Speaking a few days after their cup final heroics, Reid told the News & Mail: “I’m chuffed, as I know what my team are capable of and they proved it against Epson last Friday.
“Players (generally speaking) tend to freeze when it comes to cup games, so I used a bit of reverse psychology to get them to treat it as more of a league game to help take the pressure off them.
“It was 4-1, but it could have been 6-1 or 7-1 had we taken more of our chances.
“It was good to see that all four strikers got on the score sheet too; it’s the first time that’s happened this season,” he added.
But with every success comes a new challenge. And commanding Yellows’ boss is under no illusion that his players will be canvassed by a number of Ryman League or, potentially, National League clubs during the close season.
“I expect one or two players to be touted within the next month, it happens in football; it’s part and parcel of the game.
“I’m hoping to retain as many of the players for next season, as well as bolster the side with players that are capable, or have played at a higher level.
“As Hartley Witney proved this season, if you have a squad of players that have experience of playing in the Ryman League, or have capability of playing at the higher level, you tend to gravitate towards that.
“That’s where our heads need to be next season; we need to set up like a Ryman League club. We need to make that psychological shift,” he added.
Reid has now told all of his players to take some much-needed downtime before they reconvene for pre-season in the second week of June ’17.