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Nemanja Janković fires us on the way to the title against Tigers this afternoon.

In as one-sided a match as you are ever likely to see, Athletic defeated Tigers 3-0 this afternoon to secure the league title and with it, a likely Division III Play-off place.

Although the ball only rippled the home side’s net three times, Athletic’s outright dominance was never in question, and to all intents and purposes, Athletic played this as if it were a bounce game.

Jake MacConnechy almost opened the scoring in the fourteenth minute, but for an outstanding save by Tigers keeper Feliciano Cruz Filho. However he was helpless to prevent Nemanja Janković from doing exactly that a minute later.

It was left to Cruz Filho to keep his side in the match just before the half hour mark, but was given absolutely no chance by Andy Hautala seven minutes before the break.

He did however get a fingertip to Maranaj Batusha’s drive just after an hour, but finally conceded the third goal late on, Paul O’Healihy being noted as the scorer.

“We never got the number of goals our dominance merited, but a win is a win and we’ve secured the league title, which was all that mattered”, said a jubilant Arjen Bogaert at full-time.

“Their keeper has single-handedly kept them in the game, but from the kick-off, realistically, the match was never in doubt”.

He concluded, “Tonight, we’ll celebrate, but tomorrow we’ll start preparing for the Brook Street Cup Final on Wednesday, and for Saturday’s final league match”.

Dario Zintu fires the ball past Bien Segura to send us on our way towards the Brook Street Cup Final.

Following a superb 3-1 victory over reigning champions, Hardy’s in last night’s semi-final, Athletic will face Knights Alliance FC in a re-run of the Edition 3 final at New Home Park next Wednesday.

In a highly entertaining match, ironically played at Knight’s stadium, Dario Zintu fired Brook Street into a twenty-eighth minute lead before Radislav Rejlek did his side no favours whatsoever by picking up his second yellow card, and consequently his ticket out of the game, for slicing down Bruno Le Ber.

Athletic looked to press home their man advantage in the second half but it was somewhat against the run of play that Hardy’s equalised on the hour mark through Jaakko Mensoniemi.

The equaliser seemed to spur the Brook Street players onto greater efforts, and those paid off in the sixty-eighth minute when Oleg Zhigalov was able to break through the centre of the Hardy’s defence to fire us back in front.

As Hardy’s tried to push forward to find an equaliser, it was only to be expected that they would leave gaps at the back. As a result, it was no real surprise that, just three minutes after going back in front, Dario Zintu clinically finished off a fine move on the left to apply the coup de grâce.

“We were outstanding today and to defeat a team as good as Hardy’s takes a great deal of effort”, said Arjen afterwards.

He continued, “We kept them under pressure whilst shutting the door at the back and took our chances when they arose. We got the win our play merited and now we can look forward to our first final for many seasons”.

Nemanja Janković slams the ball past Fingle Pringle in the Glenury goal to open the scoring.

So we now know that point next week away to Tigers will be enough to give us the league title and with it a Division III play-off place. Having safely negotiated a potentially tricky match against Glenury today, we maintained our five-point advantage over Handball Rovers and put us within touching distance of the championship.

The match against Tigers next week is no foregone conclusion as Arjen pointed out at this evening’s press conference.

“Tigers are fighting for their survival”, he said. “Technically, they can still stay up, so we will not be in for an easy time of it next week”.

“We have our destiny in our own hands, and while we’ve had slip-ups on the way to this point, we are determined that we will see the championship come to New Home Park”.

He continued, “We successfully negotiated a potentially difficult match today and we know a point from our last two fixtures will secure the title. We will prepare for next week’s fixture with the intention of securing at least that point against Tigers”.

Athletic dominated our match this afternoon, and only a fine stop by Fingal Pringle denied Kyle Fair the opening goal with less than a quarter of an hour played. This was only a reprieve though as with twenty-five minutes on the clock Nemanja Janković made the breakthrough.

With Glenury packing the defence, chances were at a premium. Three minutes before the break however Athletic almost doubled the lead when, following a corner routine, Eldvinas Šumlinskas was left unmarked in the six yard box. Unfortunately, he could only redirect the ball onto the post.

Nemanja Janković rattled the crossbar in fifty-nine minutes, but Athletic finally doubled our lead a minute later when José Eransus manoeuvred the ball through the opposing central defence and coolly fired home.

Fingal Pringle kept his side in the game midway through the second half, spectacularly saving Jake MacConnechy’s strike, however even by this stage the match was over.

It wasn’t all good news for Athletic however as Kyle Fair picked up another knock following a shocking challenge that will almost certainly keep him out of next week’s match.

Athletic qualified for the semi-finals of Brook Street Cup 8 following a nerve-jangling final round of group fixtures. Anything better than a 5-0 defeat would see the New Home Park side through, however everyone was left biting their fingernails as Car Dusan scored twice in quick succession to go 4-1 up with twenty-six minutes remaining.

In a classic rearguard action, Athletic proceeded to steady the ship and closed the game down to prevent any further goals being conceded to secure their progress.

“This result proves just how important all those late goals that we’ve scored are”, said a hugely relieved Arjen Bogaert at full time. “Had we not scored them, we would be out of the Cup”.

The coach then acknowledged that his side would have to perform much better in next week’s semi-final against holders, Hardy’s.

“Car Dusan were excellent today, but last season they were taken apart by Hardy’s. We will have to be at our best to get the better of them. I will however resist the temptation to play our first team. This club has always advocated playing our reserves in the Brook Street Cup, and I fully back this”.

The match will take place at Knights Kingdom in Porto, Portugal.

The club announced this morning that they have parted company with defender Archie Peacock, the Londoner having signed for Swiss side Sparta Zurich in a deal worth just over £185,000.

The teenager arrived during the close season and during his spell here scored once in the Scottish Cup. His opportunities to play first team football however were always going to be limited given the defenders ahead of him in the pecking order, so after discussion with Arjen Bogaert it was decided that it would be best for everyone if Archie moved on.

Speaking of the transfer, Arjen said, “Archie was looking for first team football, and to be honest given the number of defenders we have on our books, he was struggling to get a game in the reserves let alone the first team”.

“He wanted a guarantee that he’d be playing, and that is something I am neither willing nor able to give to any player. Perhaps he has been poorly advised, however he moves on with our best wishes for the future”.

Andy Hautala volleys home our second goal.

A devastating five-goal first half display by Athletic swept aside Jimmy’s Wiggles and set up our 6-0 win in this afternoon’s league clash. Two goals each from Onésimo Murube and Andy Hautala along with a strike from Vítor Leocádio were added to in the second half by a superb scissor kick from Eldvinas Šumlinskas eight minutes from time.

The win saw Brook Street maintain their unbeaten record against the side from Fife, while it also kept us five points ahead of our nearest rivals with games now running out.

“Getting the win was more important than the standard of the performance”, said Arjen at full-time, “however, we produced a very good display, particularly in the first half, which was heartening”.

He continued, “We have stuttered somewhat over the past few weeks, so it was important that we picked up maximum points today to keep the pressure on our rivals”.

The match saw Athletic back to full strength, and Paul O’Healihy got fifteen minutes under his belt on his return from injury. The big Irishman said, “It’s good to get playing again. I’m a terrible spectator, so it’s good to get back into the thick of things. I got the go ahead last night, so I was really desperate to get onto the pitch this afternoon”.

“Touch wood, I’ll have no reaction tomorrow, but now I’m really looking forward to the run-in and hopefully I can stay injury free”.

Arjen commented jokingly, “Paul was an absolute nightmare when he was injured, the worst possible patient I’d guess! He was so desperate to get on this afternoon, but there’s no way I’ll be rushing him in his recuperation. As I explained to him, I’d rather he got a short time today rather than him being thrown straight back in and risk him out for a further long spell”.

“So far there seems to be no reaction, so hopefully there will be none tomorrow and he’ll be fully fit for next week”.

Daniel Hasnaş knocks in Althletic's decisive third goal in the final minute this morning.

Athletic left it very late, but in the end secured the win at FC Chalbermatti which means that only a catastrophic collapse against Car Dusan next week will deny the New Home Park side a place in the Brook Street Cup for only the second time.

With only a couple of minutes left and the match deadlocked, Daniel Hasnaş having cancelled out Máximo Casados first half goal just after half time, Bruno Le Ber broke forward and played the ball out to Vítor Leocádio. Bruno continued his run and when the ball was crossed back in, he was on hand to knock it past the Chalbermatti central defenders and fire it into the net.

To concede a goal so late in the game was a devastating blow for the home side who had more than matched the Group 3 leaders and it visibly knocked the stuffing out of the players.

On the flip side, the sense of relief amongst the Brook Street players was clear to see, and straight from the re-start they won possession and the ball was fed out to Vítor Leocádio. With the home players backing off, the winger scampered down the line before firing in a deadly low cross that Daniel Hasnaş met close in and killed the game stone dead with less than a minute to go.

Admitting afterwards that his side had ‘got out of jail’, Arjen said, “We did not play all that badly, but it certainly looked like we were heading for a draw”.

“All credit to the lads though, they kept on going and some quick thinking from Bruno resulted in the breakthrough goal”.

He added, “We were extremely fortunate however to get the win, and Chalbermatti can justifiably feel disappointed. They put so much into stopping us from playing, and came within two minutes of gaining a well deserved point”.

Athletic now know that anything better than a 5-0 defeat in Serbia will be enough to ensure our continued participation in the tournament beyond the group stage for the first time since Edition 3.

“Any more performances like that and we can kiss the championship goodbye”, was Arjen Bogaert’s stark warning following this afternoon’s 2-1 defeat by Whiskaz Wonderers.

He continued, “We also cannot afford to be so profligate in front of goal. We created five chances including a penalty yet converted only one, while Wonderers converted two of their three. This seems to be a feature of our matches and it simply cannot continue”.

And in a broadside to the players, he concluded by saying, “If we throw away the title, we’ll all be looking for new jobs next month”.

The match had started well for Athletic and in the twentieth minute Yann Schories forced Wonderers keeper Ishmael Scannell into making a save.

Three minutes later Onésimo Murube squandered a guilt-edged opportunity by pushing his shot past the post when it looked easier to score.

Then, in the twenty-eighth minute, Athletic were awarded a penalty when Onésimo was pulled down, however almost inevitably, Igor Bulatov blazed the ball over.

To add insult to injury, Wonderers opening goal came from their first chance when Gunnar Thomassen’s corner was met flush on the forehead of Gabriel Lantinga.

Thomassen almost doubled the host’s lead in the thirty-eighth minute but Ville Yrjölä, who turned the ball round the post, matched his excellent free kick.

Things were to get worse for Athletic just before the hour mark when Gunnar Thomassen broke through and slammed the ball into the net.

Athletic kept plugging away but Ishmael Scannell made light work of Jake MacConnechy’s effort with seventy-five minutes on the clock. However, we were finally able to make the breakthrough with four minutes remaining, Igor Bulatov finishing off a fine move.

It was too little, too late for Brook Street though, and our lead has now been cut to an uncomfortable five points with twelve available.

Daniel Hasnaş fires home his third, and our seventh goal against FC Torpedo Dobrich this morning.

Athletic stormed to a 7-1 win over FC Torpedo Dobrich in this morning’s Brook Street Cup match at New Home Park. As the Bulgarian side tired late on, Athletic hit four goals in the final six minutes with Daniel Hasnaş bagging himself a hat-trick in as many minutes.

Torpedo had had a horrendous trip due to the severe storm which buffeted Scotland on yesterday and only arrived at New Home Park late last night. This clearly started to catch up with the players as the second half progressed, and although the match had been keenly contested until then, as Brook Street upped the pace, the visitors struggled to keep up.

In light of this, the result could be seen as being particularly harsh on Torpedo as there was not such a big gap between the teams.

“It was a fiercely contested cup-tie and until we got our third goal, it could’ve gone either way”, said Arjen at full-time.

“Torpedo’s trip here sounded absolutely horrendous, so I have great sympathy with them. It’s little surprise that they suffered late on”.

Athletic got off to a flying start with Dario Zintu opening the scoring with twelve minutes gone. Then in the twentieth minute Yann Schories’ header from Igor Bulatov’s corner was blocked by Torpedo keeper Boris Levitskiy but he was powerless to prevent Laurent Étcheverry drilling the loose ball home.

Levitskiy came to his side’s rescue a minute later, blocking Liran Tzur’s effort but had little else to do before half time.

Torpedo came out after the break with renewed confidence and with fifty-five minutes gone, Finnish striker Timo Mälkiä reduced Athletic’s lead with a fine solo goal.

Torpedo had their tails up now and when Edward Burgstaller went down in a heap just outside the box two minutes later, he clearly asked the question of the referee. The official however flashed a yellow card in his direction for diving.

Bruno Le Ber made way for Archie Peacock in sixty-five minutes, but the youngster lasted only four minutes before Brook Street’s current injury curse struck again and he himself had to be replaced after picking up a bad knock.

Within two minutes however, the game took a decisive twist when Jake MacConnechy broke through to fire home our third goal.

Torpedo had a chance to reduce the lead again when Eron Obranič turned the ball goalwards, but Emilo expertly blocked the shot.

The visitors were obviously flagging by this stage, and this was clear for all to see with six minutes left when Dario Zintu turned in a cross from Yann Schories with the visitors’ defence posted missing.

This was merely the start of the roof caving in as within sixty seconds Daniel Hasnaş opened his account for the game. Within the next three minutes he scored twice to complete an unbelievable hat-trick to give Brook Street a more emphatic win than they perhaps merited.

The win keeps Athletic as the only side not to have dropped any points so far, and a win in Switzerland next week should in theory be enough to see us qualify for the Semi-finals of the tournament for only the second time.

Everyone at Brook Street Athletric would like to wish our friends and supporters a very happy New Year.

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