Make no mistake, this was a huge game for Stockholm’s biggest international football club. A win would take Långholmen FC into unchartered territory; at stake not only the privilege of playing in the Stockholm Cup Final for the first time ever but also entry to the Swedish Cup (equivalent of the FA Cup) next season. And the stripes shook off any big game nerves, to power past a spirited Syrianska IF team 2-4 in front of a big hostile crowd.
Emergency flares and the standard colloquial chants were ignited well before the match kicked off proper. The home side granted two penalties before the game to even things up; comfortably slotted home both to give them a 2-0 lead at the start.
The Stripes, playing with 3 central midfielders dominated the early exchanges, securing possession and moving the ball around quickly. Syrianska to their credit chased the ball down tirelessly in the first period, putting pressure on all facets of the game; especially limiting the quality of the Långholmen passing in the final third.
After a lot of huffing and puffing, LFC created few clear-cut chances in the first forty five and the travelling fans could have been forgiven for thinking that this might not be a night to remember. But the Stripes have been on a magic cup run this year, dumping out division 2 side Enskede en route to the semi has obviously given the team some belief and the second half display was simply too good for Syrianska to live with.
Chris Allen got the equaliser, powering a header into the net direct from a corner after 50 minutes. Allen was also instrumental in the equaliser, dancing through the defence and rounding the keeper only to be dragged down. The Syrianska keeper was harshly dismissed and Paul Sullivan notched from the spot.
Only one team was going to go on and win it from here, and when McClelland was fouled in the box moments later, the referee made his only mistake of the game when he waved away a stone wall pen. The stripes had the game by the scruff of the neck now, no amount of booing, abuse, car horns or fireworks were going to distract them.
The decisive goal came from the spot once more; O’Sullivan this time running onto a perfect through ball and nicking it away from a clumsy last ditch tackle. Cue swam dive, blatant penalty and a second yellow for the guilty party – the valiant home side were down to 9 men and staring down the barrel. Sullivan stepped up to the plate again and finished his seconds with a cultured left foot finish.
Syrianska had to come out and attack now, but they had nothing left in the tank. Chris Allen rounded off a marvellous evening for Langholem FC when he bagged a superb individual goal on the break; a mazy run across the face of the goal and a powerful drive into the corner put the game safe with ten minutes still to play.
The Stripes can now look forward a mouth-watering final against Anders Limpar’s Division 2 Team Sollentuna United FK. To be played on Wednesday 28th September at Grimsta IP KO: 20:00.
Bergquist (GK); Phillips (LB), Thornley (D), Mcclelland (D), Karlsson (RB), Sullivan (CM), McConnell (CM), Harkness © (CM), O’Sullivan (LF), Sammba (CF), Allen (RF). Subs: Thorell (45), Ahmed, Burris (75)
MOTM – Chris Allen; Delightful.
Ref Watch – The best we’ve had all season. 5/5.
Hope to see you at the final.