Bellevue FC v Wrexham Inclusion FC
Wrexham Community Cup 2018
A game which is aimed at promoting inclusion and equality has taken place in Wrexham on Saturday 24th Feb 2018. It was an extremely proud day for Wrexham as this unique and special football match namely Bellevue FC v Wrexham Inclusion FC went ahead to compete for the Wrexham Community Cup.
Wrexham Inclusion FC are a club who are made up of players who have suffered from disability, mental health, substance misuse and homelessness.
Bellevue FC are a team based of players from ethnic minorities including members from Poland, Romania, Albania, Portugal, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, and some from Wales.
Despite the cold weather, both teams looked fired up for this encounter, billed as a friendly, but with a trophy on the line. As both teams lined up for kick off, it was clear this was set up to be a tactical battle, Bellevue in an attacking 4-2-3-1 and Wrexham Inclusion in a deep 4-4-2 set up to smother the attackers. Bellevue had kick off, but straight from the whistle Wrexham Inclusion started throwing in some meaty challenges. This set the tone for the first fifteen minutes, with the game being a scrappy midfield affair with Bellevue responding with their own heavy tackles and not much action in either box!
As the game settled down into a rhythm, Bellevue controlled the midfield for large periods and were forcing Wrexham Inclusion into long balls straight at the rigid back four. They did manage to send a few balls beyond the line, but young goalkeeper Penny looked calm and well in control. At the other end, Austin pulled off some outstanding saves to keep the game goalless. Whittaker worked hard in the box to get the ball to Dagnall, who had the goal at his mercy from three yards, but as the Bellevue end had started celebrating, Austin got strong fingers to it and clawed it away past the post!
The breakthrough came from a set piece shortly before half time. Elfituri, Gregory and Dagnall had been a constant threat in the air, and the tight marking of those three on a corner, left Teixeira with a free run onto the back post and he made sure it counted with a brilliant header into the top left corner!
Inclusion didn’t lose their heads going behind and stuck rigidly to the game plan. Going into the second half they continued to frustrate Bellevue going forward and look to pounce on every mistake or poor touch. Their equaliser was almost a gift from Bellevue, but one they deserved. Gregory got caught in possession running into the final third, leaving Bellevue with two at the back against three on the counter. The chance was taken well, low to Penny’s right and slotted in calmly at the near post.
As full time approached, Inclusion knew they had to go for it and started opening up their play a little. This allowed Bellevue to put their best passing move of the match together, with Whittaker placing the ball at Teixeira’s feet in space. Teixeira made no mistake with this one either and drilled it into the top left again to put Bellevue back ahead. The celebrations were short lived though, less than 3 minutes later, Inclusion sent another long ball from right back towards the box. It was over hit and the striker didn’t chase, but Penny found himself staring at the sun, he decided to catch the ball from the bounce, but the pitch threw the ball to his right, out of position and off his line, he chucked a right hand at it, but despite a decent contact, the spin on the ball carried it in off the post.
As the referee was telling the teams that it was the last minute, Bellevue’s manager instructed Penny to hand the gloves to Gregory. It was clear that Penny was upset and emotionally broken from that earlier mistake and the decision was made that should it go to penalties, Gregory, who has a proven league record for saving penalties, should be in the sticks. As kickers were decided, Gregory put on the pink jersey and headed to the tree side goal for the spot kicks.
Elfituri put Bellevue ahead as Inclusion struck wide, and Gregory saved with his legs to ensure the lead as Kosiak failed to score. Gregory couldn’t keep the third out, but Costa put Bellevue ahead again. Gregory stood tall in the middle to kick away as Sousa also saw his penalty saved leaving Inclusion one last chance to pull it level, Gregory dived the right way again and beat the ball clear with a big right hand to bring the trophy to Bellevue! From defensive masterclass to goalkeeping hero, he was swallowed up by the whole team, leading the charge was a very emotional J. Penny.
What a game, and what an ending! Wrexham Community Cup winners 2018, Bellevue Football Club! Many thanks to Wrexham Inclusion FC, Kick it Out, Fans for Diversity, Wrexham DSA, Co-op and Wrexham AFC for an incredible day!