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Sillhillians Men's Seconds 5 Kings Heath 4: Super Sils avoid drop after final-day drama

Old Silhillians completed a sensational great escape as they battled back to beat Kings Heath in a thrilling relegation decider.

Old Silhillians completed a sensational great escape as they battled back to beat Kings Heath in a thrilling relegation decider.

Sils went in to the game knowing a win would guarantee safety, a loss would condemn them to the drop and a draw would leave them awaiting other results to know their fate.

With last week’s 7-0 win in mind, the Copt Heath men were confident they could put away a team who were two points behind them.

The visitors had their own survival plan and, having lost only twice in eight games, they were not going roll over easily.

It was the Kings Heath side who grabbed the early initiative, taking the first half 3-1 thanks to three clinical finishes, outshining Adam Kent’s trademark bottom-corner bullet for the home side.

At the restart, the Sils seemed fired up and possession swung their way.

Then disaster struck. A breakaway led to a Kings Heath penalty corner that was then upgraded to a penalty stroke and converted to take the score to 1-4.

At this point the game appeared lost but Sils had been rotating players effectively all game and as the minutes wore on the fresh legs turned positive possession into utter domination of the ball.

With 20 minutes left, a lifeline emerged. The ball was forced into the D from the right wing and found Sam Stephen, who squared for Andre Tchakhotine to flick home for 2-4.

Five minutes later, the Kings Heath defence parted like the Red Sea inviting Tchakhotine to fire home on the reverse for 3-4.

Ten minutes to go and the South Birmingham side were on the ropes and on 65 minutes the umpire awarded a penalty corner to the Sils.

Max Levenger’s straight strike was well saved by the keeper but it fell to Mark Dovey, who fired the ball home as only a captain can for 4-4.

A frantic five minutes was on the cards and Kings Heath mounted their first meaningful attack for some time.

But Elliot Goulding dispossessed the opposition on the Sils 23 metre line and, spotting Max Levenger’s leading run, slapped the ball to his waiting open stick.

Levenger swivelled effortlessly and picked out Nick Oppenheimer on the opposite wing.

He drove towards the D and two waiting Kings Heath defenders and, calmness personified, he drew the defenders then dinked the ball to the far post where Tchakhotine had ghosted in for the simplest of tap-ins to clinch a thrilling 5-4 victory.

A stone’s throw away, Shrewsbury had climbed their own mountain by humbling third-placed Bournville 4-1, meaning the last-minute winner for the Sils proved to be the season decider for a side who had won six of their last eight games to escape relegation.

 

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