Långholmen crowned champions in final day drama

Långholmen crowned champions in final day drama
The Local's partner football club Långholmen FC earned promotion to Division 3 on Sunday in a dramatic final day of the season that saw the Stripes overtake pre-game table toppers Marieberg with a 3-1 win over Reymersholms IK.

The state of play before the top two teams’ final games saw the clubs level on points with Marieberg topping the Stockholm Division 4 table on goal difference — by a single goal.

The last time the match reporting team can remember this much drama at the end of a game was back in 1989 when Arsenal’s Michael Thomas scored in the last minutes against Liverpool at Anfield to claim the league title for the London club.

If anything, Sunday’s match was even more dramatic as the Långholmen players gathered in a huddle in the centre of the pitch after the match, eagerly awaiting news of their destiny.

Finally the signal came from chairman Mats Gustavsson that Marieberg had ended their season with a 2-2 draw away to Boo, sparking scenes of wild jubilation at Essinge IP as fans hugged each other and joined the players on the pitch to share in a historic moment for a club that has only been in existence for seven years.

But it could have all gone so wrong for the home side, as their opponents and local rivals Reymersholm had no intention of joining in the party spirit. When Reymers’ captain Martin Bengtsson stepped up to fire home a free kick past keeper Edwin Bergquist on 38 minutes it looked like the champagne would be kept on ice.

Reymersholm were very physical in the first half and the officiating team, who it must be said were not at their best for Sunday’s game, let many hefty challenges go unpunished. Time and time again the bulky midfielders closed in tight and made life difficult for the Stripes, whose cause was not helped by the very wet conditions and a slippery surface.

On 11 minutes Långholmen’s Pete McConnell sent in a rasping shot which was turned round the post by the keeper. The same player was carded after a tough challenge on 32 minutes, which brought an angry response from the Reymers players who could consider themselves fortunate to escape without yellow cards of their own.

As always the home fans kept up the tempo on the sidelines with chant after chant, trying to urge on their side.

But Långholmen remained a goal down at half time and the management team was forced to make some changes. Anton Björlund Bergström was introduced, as was Oscar Hentmark, and the second half was barely a minute old when the changes paid dividends. A goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall to Hentmark who toe-poked the ball home from eight yards, prompting a crescendo of noise from the terraces.

There was a real positive flair now to Långholmen and it wasn’t long before they grabbed a second. “Mr. Dependable” and leading scorer Chris Allen banged the ball home from just inside the box. Suddenly it sounded like there were 20,000 inside Essinge IP and not the 206 fans who had braved the elements.

Reymers were visibly shaken and began arguing amongst themselves as their dream of spoiling their rivals’ big day was gradually dissected.

On 60 minutes a very brave header by Allen once again found the back of the net. It was 3-1 but the forward took a mighty blow to the face for his trouble and was forced to leave the field of play.

As the game entered its final third, Reymers found a second wind and tried to play their way towards goal, but Stuart Lascelles and co held firm at the back. Young Wilhelm Karlsson in particular had a superb game in the left back slot.

Tension was mounting as news that Marieberg were also leading 3-1 filtered through, an unsubstantiated report that, fortunately for Långholmen, eventually proved false.

The Stripes pushed on looking for number four, and it nearly came when Deri Thomas rattled the upright with two minutes left on the clock.

The seconds ticked away and the whistle went for the end of the game. But it wasn’t until two minutes later that the Stripes were confirmed as champions to seal what has been an unbelievable league season for all involved in the club.

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