Rangers stage dramatic Challenge Cup comeback
Holders Clerkenwell Old Boys are beaten in quarter-finals of the Camden Sunday League Challenge Cup
11 January, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
Tom Allnutt of Crouch End Rangers
THERE was only one big upset that footy fans were talking about this weekend as the holders were dumped out of the cup.
No, not Arsenal’s 4-2 defeat at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. All the chatter was about Crouch End Rangers toppling Clerkenwell Old Boys in the quarter-finals of the Camden Sunday League Challenge Cup.
Club treasurer Tom Allnutt was in inspirational form as Rangers came from behind to beat the Old Boys.
Clerkenwell looked like they were going to move within two wins of successfully defending their crown when Gary Chandler fired them into a half-time lead.
But Allnutt took matters into his own hands to turn the tie. Within minutes of the restart he equalised for the league champions with a clinical finish.
Then, with extra-time looming, the midfielder hit the jackpot with his second goal of the game, turning home from close range after a fine cross from Sam Williams.
Victory nudged Rangers into the final four and secured a slice of revenge over the club who beat them 3-1 in last year’s showpiece final.
Back in the team after months of inactivity, match-winner Allnutt said: “I’m the first to admit my attendance this season has been nothing short of disgraceful.
“I’ve been taking care of the money from afar but I knew it was time I put a performance in on the pitch to make it up to the boys. Obviously it’s nice to score the goals, but what was most important was the result. I’ve always dreamed of lifting the Challenge Cup, so to make the last four again is my highlight of 2018 so far.”
Rangers will be joined in the semi-finals by 2016 Challenge Cup winners Auld Shillelagh, who cruised to a 4-1 victory over Enate United.
Auld Shillelagh reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup with a 4-1 win over Enate United
The mighty Greens dominated the opening exchanges, and the pressure told when top scorer Nick Brice burst down the right flank and cut inside to cross the ball for player-manager Nathan Bonnar, who took a touch before powering the ball into the roof of the net.
Shortly after Brice was on hand again to provide for box-to-box midfielder William Hawkins. With what surely goes down as a goal-of-the-season contender, Hawkins sealed his man-of-the-match accolade by curling the ball into the top corner from all of 30 yards out.
Auld Shillelagh were cruising before a combination of lacklustre defending and an unfortunate slip led to an Enate penalty, which their captain, Julius Patrick, duly dispatched.
Another penalty presented Auld Shillelagh with the chance to restore their two-goal cushion before the break after Bonnar was clumsily brought down in the box. Brice, however, squandered the opportunity as he fired high and wide.
Both sides struggled to find any rhythm early in the second half, creating few clear-cut chances, before inspired substitutes Daniel O’Sullivan and Joseph Wilson were brought on to seal the game with two late goals.
The first came from O’Sullivan courtesy of a trademark dinked finish, followed shortly after by winger “Toey” Wilson shooting low into the bottom corner to ensure Auld Shillelagh ended the game easy winners.
Player-manager Bonnar said: “It is great to start the year off with a win.
“We got a taste of success a couple of seasons ago and are aiming to get the Challenge Cup back in our trophy cabinet. It’s an old cup, everyone knows it’s the biggest cup competition.”
Badu Sports FC also progressed to the final four after beating rivals Cobden Athletic by the odd goal in five.
Striker David Bell bagged a brace which, along with a neat finish from man-of-the-match Ruben Alves, sealed a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Nathan Scarborough scored both goals for Cobden Athletic.
Meanwhile, the most resounding win of the weekend saw Division One leaders The Hurricanes put nine goals past Division Two strugglers Surreal Madrid.
Midfielder Matt Perry led the charge with four goals, while Dominic Affron chipped in with a brace. Charlie Eccleshare, Simon Lawrence and Jack Fletcher were also all on target.