Flackwell Heath crashed out the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup on Monday night after losing their semi-final tie 1-0 against Ardley United at the Nolans Oil Ground.

The Flackwell team looked relaxed prior to the game and were determined to book their place in the final that would see them face either of Brackley Town Saints, Ascot United or Binfield. Manager Marcus Richardson made two changes from the draw at Tuffley Rovers on Saturday as Cameron Gray stepped in for Aaron Layne with Gray making his 50th appearance for the Heathens. Josh Baines replaced Sodike Anyadike-Thompson in midfield for the Reds.

Flackwell clearly had a game plan as the opted to play up the hill in the first half and sat behind the ball, looking to frustrate Ardley’s total football style of play. The game started a furious pace and on six minutes, Flackwell had a huge chance as Mo Ceesay was slotted through with just the Ardley ‘keeper to beat. Ceesay could only hit the Ardley stopper who then recovered well to save the second strike.

Ardley then began to put the pressure on and Aaron Watkins was forced to tip over a long-range strike. Ten minutes later Ardley played a short corner which Flackwell reacted poorly to and were lucky as the resulting shot hit an Ardley player and went out for a goal kick.

The half-time whistle went and you could see from the Flackwell players faces that they’d done a good job, holding their shape well. Ardley’s players and staff were visibly frustrated as they could not break the Heathens down.

The second half kicked off with Flackwell kicking downhill.

On 47 minutes against the run of play, Ardley took a quick throw-in and their tricky central midfielder slid a pass to Troy Bryan who finished from just inside the Flackwell penalty area.

Flackwell piled on the pressure throughout the second half. Young midfielder Layne came on and started where he left off against Tuffley on Saturday, moving the ball well and troubling the Ardley back four. Flackwell had a good chance from a corner in the second half that was deemed to be a foul on the ‘keeper.

Flackwell continued to look for an equaliser and the best chance came from a free kick which was headed towards goal and cleared off the line by an Ardley defender. The Flackwell bench erupted in celebration as they thought they’d scored. The referee and his officials waved it away.

The final whistle went and the Flackwell players sunk to the ground. They’d thrown the kitchen sink at it and Ardley United had answered all their questions, defending heroically at times. Flackwell’s next fixture sees them take on Bishops Cleeve on Saturday afternoon in the Hellenic League Premier Division (3pm).