|Sat 2nd June||Mersey Masters||Holders
|Sat 30th June||Northern Masters||Holders
|Sat 7th July||Yorkshire/Central Masters||Holders
|Sat 14th July||Midlands Masters||Holders
|Sat 21st July||North West Masters||Holders
MAN CITY (2010)
|Sat 8th Sept||London Masters||Holders
|Sunday 9th Sept||GRAND FINAL – Wembley Arena||Holders
LAST GASP VILLA ARE MIDLANDS MASTERSJuly 5th, 2011
BY MICHAEL COULSON
Wolverhampton Wanderers were left scratching their heads as to how they did not lift the Selco Midlands Masters after having their pockets picked by Aston Villa.
Pre-tournament favourites Villa appeared to have pushed their luck too far in the final match of the event, trailing by 2-0 at half-time and still being 2-1 adrift with just one minute left on the clock
But Wolves’ decision to try and net a 3rd rather than hold the ball in the corner came back to haunt them when Mark Kinsella robbed them of possession and fed Neil Cox who produced a sublime finish.
That secured a penalty shoot-out, and the high drama continued as the honours remained even all the way to sudden death when it came down to the two goalkeepers – with Villa’s Paul Crichton netting and then saving from Wolves stopper Derek Dudley.
That represented some turnaround for the Villains, who had looked like crashing out right from the start, when they fell two goals behind to Coventry City in the evening opener.
The Sky Blues’ luck then ran out, with John Williams, scorer of their first goal, badly twisting a knee and being carried out of the action for the remainder of the evening.
That was the catalyst for a Villa comeback, with Tony Daley sparking a revival to see the game end 3-2 to the Claret and Blues.
And worse was to come for Coventry, who were on the receiving end of a spanking in their next fixture against reigning champions Birmingham City – with Paul Telfer’s delightful curling strike the only consolation in a 5-2 drubbing.
In the other group, Wolves and West Brom were on collision course for a decider having both beaten Walsall in their opening games, and derby deciders were the key to the evening as Blues faced up to Villa for the other place.
Villa overcame their city rivals to secure their spot, but West Brom, led by legendary goalscorer Bob Taylor, were left cursing their luck as a draw with Wolves saw the Wanderers reach the final on goal difference – thanks to a heavier defeat of Walsall.
That set-up the dramatic penalty shoot-out and gave Villa the opportunity to take their place in the Selco Masters grand final in September, alongside Rangers, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester United and Manchester City.
Aston Villa ace Moustapha Hadji was playing in his first Selco Masters Cup and admitted it was far more competitive than he expected.
He said: “You can tell these people are footballers and they are winners, they want to be the best in whatever games they play.
“There have been some tough tackles and some hard games and we have been involved in hard matches – it is great to have won.
“I thought we had a great team and would stand a chance and now we will be looking to become the overall Selco Masters champions in September.”
Selco regional operations manager Paul Bradwell handed over the trophy and admitted it had been a roller coaster evening.
He said: “Its unbelievable that Villa ended up winning – they looked down and out after five minutes of the first game so it was a great comeback.
“The standard was very high tonight and there were several players like Mark Kinsella, Paul Telfer and Moustapha Hadji that still looked fit enough to ply their trade at the highest level.
“The atmosphere inside the NIA was electric and you could see the passion from both the fans and the players. Masters Football has never been so popular and Selco is very proud to be contributing to that success.”