Poynton18(1)
Poynton 2 3 2 3 10
Cheadle 0 3 0 3 6

Three in a row for Poynton at Flags final

Poynton claimed the Senior Flags for the third year in a row after once again defeating Cheadle, 10-6, in the final at Rochdale.

The Blackbirds led from the first quarter and victory never looked in doubt as their third consecutive win completed a league and flags double after being crowned NEMLA Premier champions for the first time in the club’s 129-year history earlier this month.

It was also the third year in a row that the Senior Flags final was contested between Poynton and Cheadle, and while they had won the previous two match-ups, it was arguably the first time Poynton came into the match as favourites after winning the league.

However, Cheadle held a 2-1 record against their opponents in the league this season, including an 11-4 win back in March and contesting their eighth consecutive flags final, were keen to end their losing streak.

The game got off to a fairly slow start with both sides sounding each other out with half chances but nothing of real note.

It was Poynton who eventually drew first blood, Alex Russell bundling through two players to get things going, and they slowly began to crank things up with spells of consistent pressure; Will Prescott hitting the post before Steve Swift then doubled the lead, ably assisted by Will Hardy.

After the low scoring first quarter, the goals began to flow in the second, Prescott finding the net on the turn to put Poynton three ahead, before a quickfire Cheadle double, first from Ady Bennett and then Paul Flowers to make it 3-2.

While Cheadle began to get a foothold in the game, Poynton always looked more of a threat in front of goal and with Cheadle not doing enough to restrict scoring opportunities, Swift added his second after forcing his way through the defender.

Matt Boyd hit an immediate reply for Cheadle with a strong finish up high to keep in touch; however, a broken-down Cheadle attack just before half-time allowed Poynton to capitalise with a clinical goal on the transition, finished by Alex Russell again, side-stepping his man and sticking it away to lead 5-3 at the half.

After the break, Cheadle did look to exert some pressure with long spells of possession, but Poynton’s man-to-man defence was exemplary, keeping their offense at bay and any shooting chances were then thwarted by Will Baxter who was dependable in between the posts all game.

After resisting the pressure, Poynton then added to their tally at the other end, while most of the defence seemed occupied with an offside call, Sam Russell put up a long pass from just inside the halfway to Sam Davidson on the crease who gratefully finished.

And to close the quarter, a man-up opportunity for the Blackbirds allowed the ball to be worked to Alex Russell at ‘X’, spotting the run of his brother who was allowed to cut right through the middle and put away an easy finish unmarked to lead 7-3 at ¾ time.

Matt Collier pulled one back for Cheadle early in the 4th , but another for Swift, who proved too much to handle all game, popping up free on the crease to complete his hat-trick and a long-range effort from Joe Chorlton made it 9-4 and put the result beyond doubt.

A quick back and forth followed in the final minutes, Dan Condron and Ady Bennett adding efforts for Cheadle, either side of a second for Prescott, but ultimately it was a comfortable victory for Poynton in taking their third consecutive flags, something not achieved since their opponents completed the feat back in the 90s.

Poynton now look to the National Club Final against SEMLA double winners, Hampstead, on Saturday 12 May at Nottingham Trent University (FO 2pm) for the Iroquois Cup and the place at the European Club Championships.

Poynton: Steve Swift (3), Alex Russell (2), Will Prescott (2), Sam Davidson, Sam Russell, Joe Chorlton

Cheadle: Ady Bennett (2), Paul Flowers, Matt Boyd, Matt Collier, Dan Condron