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  • Writer's pictureRob Stevens

Singh Sabha win the 100th Ascot & Fielden Cup final but Zufran Asghar has high praise for Southcote

PICTURE: Singh Sabha celebrate with the Ascot & Fielden Charity Cup after a 4-2 win on penalties following a 2-2 draw in the final against Southcote at the Racecourse Ground in Ascot on Friday night. PHOTO: Gary House.

Singh Sabha manager, Zufran Asghar, has heaped praise on Southcote despite his team winning the Ascot & Fielden Cup final on Friday night.

The charity cup competition is celebrating its 100th year and spectators at the Racecourse Ground in Ascot were treated to a classic final that had stunning goals and red cards as well as a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out to decide the winner.

Sabha are glittered in cup silverware having won five different cup competitions in three seasons but, they had to show all their battling qualities to draw 2-2 in 90 minutes.

Hasan Hussain later made himself the hero on the night, the keeper saving two Southcote penalties as his side won the shoot-out 4-2 but, Asghar had high praise for the beaten finalists.

He explained: “We’re glad we won the cup. It means we’ve completed the East Berkshire League and outside cup competition collection, the full set.

“It was one of our objectives at the start to the season, to win the Ascot & Fielden Cup, because we’ve never won it before. We’re glad to have ticked that box.

“It was a nice trophy as well. It was a good night for the team and celebrations at the end of it.

“I was really impressed with Southcote, they played well and contributed to a great final by giving their all. They just fell short in the end but put on a hell of a show and should be really proud of themselves.

“I would like to congratulate and commiserate Southcote at the same time; congratulate them on reaching the final and contributing toward a classic match, commiserate them because there were unlucky to lose the game.

“They put on one hell of a show and put in a lot of effort into the game, and they were really unlucky in the end.

PHOTO: Singh Sabha celebrate after winning the 100th Ascot & Fielden Charity Cup competition final. PHOTO: Gary House.

“I can now see why Southcote made it to the final and beat some of the Premier Division sides. They’re a really good, young side that puts in a lot of effort and are committed right to the end. They gave it their all.

“We won in the dreaded penalty shoot-out in the end but, I would like to give Southcote high praise for their efforts in the cup final.”

Southcote have made a real impact in their first-ever season with the East Berkshire League including beating three Premier Division sides to the reach the final.

The young stars would not have been afraid to take on Singh Sabha and took the lead through Eric Macharia before Sukh Malhi headed home from a Jovan Bains free-kick to ensure the two teams were level at the break.

The two sides were not level in the number of players however, as Jayden Sunderland of Southcote was dismissed before half-time.

Despite being down to 10-men, the lower division side regained the advantage via Macharia, before Hassan Mahmood forced penalties with a stunning equalising goal.

PICTURE: Southcote star Eric Macharia, centre, celebrates the second of his two goals in the final. PHOTO: Gary House.

Singh Sabha scored all four of their penalties thanks to the efforts of Pritpal Raju, Karim Chairbi, Nav Samra and man-of-the-match Bains. And was aided by Hussain between the sticks after he twice kept out Southcote efforts.

Looking back on the cup final, Asghar said: “We knew that Southcote would come out at us and give it a good go, and they did. But, we dominated the play and had most of the ball.

“They disrupted our play and we couldn’t settle on the ball, they really made it difficult for us. Southcote defended well and it was hard to break them down.

“There was a lot of needless fouls going in and stuff like that but, overall our quality of football came through. We got the goals.

“We kept on going and creating chances throughout the game, and in the end we forced penalties. We got the job done in the shoot-out.

“The game was quite scrappy at times. Southcote just didn’t let us settle from the first minute. They made persistent fouls and disrupted the game but, we kept on going and let the referee make decisions on foul play.

PICTURE: Singh Sabha goalkeeper, Hasan Hussain, was the hero on the night, saving two Southcote penalties to ensure his side would win the cup final. PHOTO: Gary House.

“Southcote went down to 10-men late in the first half so we thought we would attack them in the second and score more goals, but we didn’t. They defended well and battled to the end. They kept on going.

“Southcote scored both their goals completely against the run of play but capitalised on our mistakes at the back. They put in a good shift.

“They’re a young side, hungry, committed and kept on going. Every time we broke there was a chance to create something but they would disrupt us.

“We kept on going, playing our football and created chances. We got our goals from a set-piece and then a rocket, a stunning strike from Hassan, which gave us the equaliser in the second half.

“We tried to get a third and fourth goal but, Southcote kept on going and in the end the game would have to be settled on penalties.”

Asghar continued: “Going into the penalties I thought we would have the more experience and be fine but, you never know in these kind of situations. The way Southcote played, maybe it would be their day but our goalkeeper, Hasan Hussain, has been through many penalty shoot-outs in his time. I was confident and we said to him he would definitely save two penalties.

“Our boys didn’t perform at their best, we kept hold of the ball for too long and were slow with our passes but, in the second half we really drove at them and kept on probing to get the equaliser. I’m glad that we got over the line once it went to penalties.”

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