In a season which began in July 2009 in the Europa League Qualifiers, Fulham finally ended it with a narrow 2-1 extra time defeat to Atletico Madrid in front of a crowd of 49,000 in Hamburg last night.
In an absorbing if not particularly thrilling final Atletico carved out most of the chances and it was not a great surprise when ex Manchester United striker Diego Forlan fired them into the lead in the 32nd minute with a typical poachers goal. However to their credit Fulham rallied strongly and after it appeared the chance had gone the ball somehow arrived to Simon Davies and he duly volleyed in the equaliser.
Fulham started the second half brightly but as time wore on they began to look tired and bereft of attacking ideas and as extra time loomed the Spanish side began to take control however Fulham held on and the game went into Extra Time.
Both teams looked desperately tired in extra time and with the prospect of a penalty shoot looming finally Fulham’s resolve was broken as Aguero got the better of a tired looking Chris Baird and whipped in a cross for Forlan and he touched into the net to end Fulham’s European adventure.
In front of a crowd of 8920 Whitley Bay retained the FA Vase Trophy with an emphatic 6-1 win over Wroxham who were sadly out classed. The writing was on the wall for Wroxham within 30 seconds of the kick off as Paul Chow headed Whitley Bay into the lead with one of Wembley’s fastest ever goals and although Wroxham fought back to equalise an unfortunate own goal meant that Whitley Bay went in 2-1 up at half time.
A crowd of 21,223 turned up at Wembley to see see the FA Trophy today and in a thrilling game which had two sending offs and extra time the underdogs Barrow came from a goal down to win 2-1.
In a somewhat bad tempered match Stevenage looked to be on their way to a Promotion & Cup double when they went ahead after 10 minutes thanks to a stunning 20 yard strike by Andrew Drury. Stevenage then dominated the possession and looked comfortable, but everything changed on 28 minutes when they had a player sent off for hiolent conduct and this allowed Barrow to get back into the game and in the 79th Minute Lee McEvilly headed home the Equaliser.
Two Conference Premier League clubs will battle it out today for the non league version of the FA Cup, and like the FA Cup which will be contested between money bags Chelsea and bankrupt Portsmouth, the FA trophy will be contested by teams with very differing fortunes.
Although most football fans attention will be focused the battle for the Premier League Title on Sunday, fans of a more grass roots style of football will be looking forward to the second of the Non League football finals due to be played at Wembley this month.
In this years final Northern League Division One team Whitley Bay will be hoping to retain the trophy that they won for the second time in 2009 when they face Wroxham who will be appearing in their first final. Whitley Bay will be playing in their newly commissioned Yellow kit as Wroxham who also play in Blue & White have won the toss and will play in their traditional kit.
Wroxham who play in the Eastern Counties Premier League, which is in tier 9 of the football league pyramid system will be slight underdogs in the final but showed they will be no push overs when beating similar status Whitehawk FC 4-1 on aggregate in the semi finals.
Whoever wins it will be a great day for the players and fans and should attract a crowd many times bigger than they will be used to playing in front of and the prize money of around £20,000 to the winners will make a big difference to any team playing at this level.
The FA Vase competition is open to clubs who play in the lower tiers of the football league pyramid and is their equivalent of the FA Trophy which will be competed for on 8th May 2010 between Barrow and Stevenage Borough who have just won promotion to the football league for the first time in their history.
Group G – Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea
Every World Cup we get a group of death and this looks like it this year with any of the top three being capable of advancing to the quarter finals at least. Even North Korea would have done OK in some of the groups so there will be no easy games here. Obviously Brazil will be everyone’s favourite to qualify who will join them?