Date: 6th November 2016 at 12:38pm
Written by:

Photos taken by Jamie Cooper –

Sunday 23rd October – Sutton Town FC. Kick-off: 16:00.
In Aid of The British Heart Foundation –

Over the last fifty years, since its foundation in 1961, the nation’s number one heart charity and largest independent funder of cardiovascular research, has helped individuals fight heart disease through dedicated and innovative research projects, distinctive publications and fundraising activities.

Commentary provided by Free Radio`s Tom Ross and Aston Villa 1982 European Cup winner Pat Heard.

The star-studded match to raise awareness and funding for the British Heart Foundation, organised by Adrian John Woolley (Customer Service Assistant/Receptionist – Network Rail) and Aston Villa European Cup winner Peter Withe and his son Stephen, as part of their organisation S and P Withe Promotions, proved to be an enjoyable day for everyone after months of preparation.

Network Rail’s squad managed by Andy Knowles included The Apprentice star Gary Poulton, Britain`s Got Talent finalist Paul Manners and stand-out performers Craig Stenning, midfield maestro Aaron Knowles and Patrick Power whom produced a spectacular comeback from 3-0 down, only to be beaten by a sublime sole effort from former Aston Villa player Darren Byfield two minutes from time.

Former Aston Villa player and manager Brian Little took charge of a team specially selected by Peter Withe, (unable to attend the spectacle due to undergoing a successful operation in hospital, best wishes to Peter in his recovery).

Former England international Lee Hendrie, former Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion player Geoff Horsefield , Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘lookalike’ Jack Goodarce, Hollywood Actor David Bradley, star of the Harry Potter franchise and hit television phenomenon Game of Thrones made the afternoon a momentous and memorable occasion.

Winter was certainly upon the spectators who braved the interchangeable weather on Sunday afternoon in Sutton Coldfield whom came close to witnessing a renaissance of one of the greatest comebacks in footballing history, that occurred in Istanbul in 2005.

In an end-to-end game in blustery conditions the consistently dangerous ‘number 10’ Patrick Power had early opportunities to open the scoring, but the experience of Hendrie and Byfield didn’t take long to become apparent. Both players still respectively playing semi-professionally, brought feline reactions from keeper Craig Stenning, including a free-kick from Hendrie that was spectacularly turned around the post within the first 15 minutes.

Within the space of five minutes a tale of two penalties were awarded to Withe`s 11. Man of the Match Hendrie, currently playing for Montpellier FC, was fouled in the area, but Byfield`s (Roberto) Baggio esque penalty for Italy in 1994 World Cup flew over the cross-bar. But five minutes later, in a complete reversal of earlier events, Byfield was bundling down in the box and Hendrie clinically scored the resulting spot-kick low to Stenning’s right.

Taking the lead gave Little’s side the momentum for the rest of the half with efforts from Ryan Amoo and Geoff Horsefield`s saved by the stellar Stenning, Horsefield’s strike a one handed close-range stop.

Resistance finally gave one minute to half-time when Hendrie skipped past two defenders and slotted the ball into the empty for his second of the game and a two goal lead going into the break for his side.

The tempo changed as the second half begun, as Britain got Talent star Manners hit the bottom of the post, but the velocity of the first-half’s play resumed when Nick Mole increased the lead with a clinical finish at the back post. Four minutes later it should have been four, but Solihull Moor’s forward Byfield hit the crossbar with a close-range header.

What looked like a routine victory unexpectedly evaporated with a comeback any football team would have made the headlines with. Patrick Power (who will surely claim the goal) instigating the revival with a long range effort that when in off keeper Cant. Surely a goal that will be decided by the ‘Dubious Goals Panel’.

Aaron Knowles, indistinguishable to Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta in the middle of the pitch, finished off a well-worked move with a shot which gradually went over the line off the right-hand post.

The comeback was complete when Callum Thompson confidently slotted the ball past Cant after finding himself in acres of space in the area to level the scores at 3-3 and a penalty should have been awarded when Knowles was brought down in the area, but nothing was given by the referee to the player`s bemusement.

Experience finally prevailed when Byfield scored the winner two minutes from time after finding himself in unjustified space between two defenders in the area and guided the ball calmly into the bottom left hand corner past the helpless Stenning.

Network Rail`s Knowles had a chance to draw the scores before the final whistle with a effort that rattled the post for a second time during the match, but the score remained the same and Brian Little`s men ran-out 4-3 winners in a truly entertaining game for both spectators and the players.

Man of the Match – Lee Hendrie.