History was in the making as Warminster Town gained all three points in the season’s final match. A 2-1 win over Gillingham Town sealed them as Western League Division 1 runner-up, the best finish in their history and a place in the playoffs for promotion.
Two hundred thirty-seven turned up to watch the match and were entertained by a good football game. At times it seemed that the ball would not go into the back of the net for the home side, and that second place might elude them.
On several occasions, the home side threatened to score; perhaps the best was when Martin Johnson intercepted a back pass and shot just wide of the far post. It was Conner McKay who opened the score in the 19th minute. Running down the left, McKay switched on the turbocharger to beat the right-back, cut in and slotted the ball into the far corner of the net.
Lewis Graham forced the Gillingham keeper into making a first-class save. Graham’s free-kick was surely going to be a goal but for the keeper’s athletic dive to his left and pushed the ball out for a corner.
Towards the end of the first half, Gardner had to be substituted due to injury and on came Wain in his place. Gardner had collided with the Gillingham keeper earlier in the match and couldn’t shake off the effects.
Warminster this season seems to score more goals in the second half. This looked very likely in the opening two minutes, and Wain saw his shot go over the crossbar. Not long later, he slid in for a cross from the left only to see the ball flash by his feet, so agonisingly close.
However, it was Gillingham against the run of play that equalised. Uncharacteristically, the Warminster defence allowed Gillingham an easy chance to score. The keeper took a free-kick from halfway inside their half. The ball reached the left edge of the penalty area, De-Silva fell over the attacker, leaving Gillingham’s number 3 to run onto the ball, Graham covering slipped, and keeping Jeffery at bay, the player fired home into Thomson’s far post.
In the 64th minute, surely Warminster would regain the lead after McKay was brought down in the box. Warminster’s captain and top goal-scorer, Ian Jeffery, stepped up to take the penalty. The keeper went the correct way to his left and safely gathered the ball.
McKay was ten-minute sin-binned in the 75th minute leaving Warminster with ten men. As is often the case in football, ten men on the pitch can rise to the situation. In the 80th minute, Graham (voted man of the match) forced his way down the left, cut inside, and slid the ball out to the right to find Wain on the edge of the box. Wain fired low, and a defender deflected the ball into his own goal.
And that was the final score 2-1 to Warminster. At the end of the match, the team were awarded the runners-up cup by the Western League representatives, and the players each received a medal.
Team: Thomson, Graham, Cockerill, Jeffery, De Silva, Humphreys, Gardner, Mortimer-Taylor, Johnson, Butler, McKay
Subs: (used) Vincent, Miluk, Wain
(unused) Bartley, McFerran