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Buckingham FC Veterans fall agonisingly short of epic cup run final after tough loss

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A group of 30 and 40-year-olds who formed a Sunday league side on a whim only a year ago amazed themselves by making it into the semi-final of the Milton Keynes Veterans League Cup.

The little-known Buckingham Vets had only played 13 games before Sunday and saw them travelling north for a David v Goliath battle against Northampton Mereway Sapphires.

After 10 minutes, the home side had created the better chances and broke the deadlock when an unmarked Simon Webber met a free kick at the back post and nodded over Joel Canning in the Buckingham net with Buckingham’s offside protest falling on deaf ears.

A free kick taken in a wide area was put right into the mixer and fell to Simon Webber, unmarked at the back post who delicately nodded it over the keeper. Buckingham’s protests for offside fell on deaf ears.

Mereway capitalised on their early pressure as they made it 2-0. They went from back to front in two quick passes which sent Craig Cooper down the right wing. His early cross was met by yet another unmarked Northampton player, Frank Maher, who left Canning once again rooted to the spot.

Chris Kirby, Northampton’s central midfielder was pulling the strings as they dominated possession.

“It was a really tough game, they were a very good side, what we expected and the quality they had really showed later in the game.”

 His switch of play unleashed Craig Cooper once again, who found Richard Slater bursting into the box. His attempt to square the ball was turned in by Chris Bownes.

A half-time formation change by Buckingham manager Ant Weight, solidified Buckingham’s midfield. They went from a 4-3-3 to a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond, limiting the affect Chris Kirby had on the game.

Buckingham had a golden opportunity to get back into the game with a penalty. The corner was whipped into the front post by Buckingham’s captain Matt Marsden. A clever flick on was met by the hand of a Northampton player, prompting the referee to point to the spot.

The penalty was denied. Jason Lee meeting Marsden’s attempt with firm hands to push the ball out to the right side of the box.

From that point on, it looked like one way traffic.

Joel Canning made some exceptional saves in one-on-one situations and a goal line clearance kept Buckingham in touching distance.

The final nail in coffin came as Justin Wiles picked the ball up around the halfway line with his back to goal. A good turn and he was off. A run through midfield and a weighted pass, put Richard Slater through on goal. His chip left Canning stranded.

Following the game, Buckingham’s attention turned to the league, where they have the chance of promotion and a possible chance of winning the league.

Buckingham currently sit second in division 3, 14 points off league leaders, Chesterton but with four games in hand.

They look nailed on for promotion as the season run-in begins.

Regardless of the end of season results, Buckingham Vets have blazed a trail and their short history is littered with success.

Defender, Chris Checkley said: “We have a really good chance of winning the league and getting promoted so hopefully we can put some good performances in and finish the season on a high.”

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