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Chelsea Game 1 2007

Written by Steve Jones

Football Aid Championships, Tuesday 22nd May, Stamford Bridge

Chelsea (Home) 5 Chelsea (Away) 4

In the sweltering heat of an early summer’s afternoon, these two sides delivered a nine goal thriller worthy of the big stage. With conditions more suited to South America than South West London, both teams set out to deliver the type of football which excited the crowd and exhausted themselves. This was the beautiful game in its most free-flowing, end-to-end, magnificent form.

On a ground which has become accustomed to spectacular individual performances, the attacking quality on show was sometimes (not always) of the highest level. Eventual man of the match Miller Mathieson showed his class in the opening minutes, springing the offside track before a cool finish past Edel in the away goal. Mathieson was a constant threat all afternoon and scored his second goal in what could have been a replay of his first. Suddenly Home were 2-0 up and looking comfortable.

The away side did though stamp their authority on this fixture when Khalid Fakhera pulled a goal back, forcing the game wide open in the process. Cue something special and an inspirational brace from Home captain George Panayiotou. As a lifelong fan of the club, Panayiotou described leading his Chelsea side out at Stamford Bridge as “the best thing I’ve ever done”.

Family and friends, who were sat watching in the stands, are probably still debating whether Panayiotou’s second goal was meant as a shot or a cross. Either way, there can be no denying the young skipper could have completed his hat-trick but for a poor second touch which saw the ball roll straight into the goalkeeper’s arms. Nevertheless, after Fakhera and Panayiotou had traded two goals each the game was poised at 4-2.

The game continued to be an expansive one and the fitness of the legends on show would prove vital to its outcome. In fact one ex-professional managed to get his name on the score sheet as Scott Minto (Away) fired low into the bottom corner with a shot from just outside the box. There was even time for a collective cheer from the crowd as Home left-back John Bumstead was booked for time wasting. At the final whistle however it was Minto on the losing side and left admitting that “Bunners” had got the better of him.

The last ten minutes saw Stephen Love come off the bench to score Home’s fifth and seemingly put the result beyond doubt. Those celebrations were though again short lived as Away centre forward Vincenzo Felici finally got the goal he’d worked so hard for. On another day the number nine might have finished with three or four goals but this late consolation was to prove some reward for an afternoon’s graft.

In truth, Home deserved their victory having been at least a goal in front almost from the start. But impressive contributions from the likes of Fakhera and Stott in the heart of their midfield and Felici up front meant the away side could have still snatched an equaliser late on. It was not to be though.

Home Team: M Kotsapas, D O’Riordan, J Bumstead, B Fleming, J Hinz, T Bibi, G Panayiotou, I Campbell, M Mathieson, M Kingston, P Ioannou, S Love, S Deverson, J Pearson

Mascot: M Ioannou

Away Team: J Edel, S Minto, G Philpot, A Glaves, K Fakhera, K Stott, D Wheatley, V Felici, R Pearson, S Clark, C Myatt, D Rawson, T Clement, M Day

Mascot: J Philpot