The RAF SRT commenced its 2018 Inter Services Championships with a home fixture against the Army at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium, home of high flying League One outfit Shrewsbury Town Football Club. The SRT went into the championship full of confidence on the back of an unbeaten streak of 9 wins on the bounce. The Army were also showing their worth knowing that victory would seal this year’s championship after beating the Royal Navy 7-3 the previous week. Prior to the match starting, a Griffin helicopter landed on the centre circle on the pitch to deliver the evenings match ball to the Chief of the Air Staff and President of Royal Air Force Football Association, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier. The match officials were provided by the Royal Navy FA. The game started lively with both teams pressing hard to stamp their authority. There wasn’t much time to settle on the ball and neither teams were holding back in their quest to get the competitive edge to earn the right to play.
The first real opportunity came after 7 minutes with the RAF being awarded a free kick in a dangerous area just outside the box. The resulting set piece came to nothing. Two minutes later there was chaos in the Army penalty area after the Army keeper Cairney lost the ball which was picked up by Campbell. Unable to get a shot away, Campbell was cynically fouled right outside the box. Another free kick to the RAF in a dangerous area. Woodhouse stepped up to strike the free kick and his wonderous strike fired passed the keeper into the net to make it 1-0 to the RAF.
On 14 minutes the Army negotiated their first real opportunity gaining a free kick in a similar position to the RAFs, the resulting free kick was driven straight into the RAF wall and was cleared from danger. The RAF continued to press and were unfortunate to not go 2 nil up with a chance by Woodhouse going wide of the post. As the half progressed, the Army gained confidence and started to dominate the play. On the 25th minute Wilkinson expertly hit a rebounded effort off the crossbar into the roof of the net for the equalising goal. RAF 1 Army 1. Despite the setback of conceding, the RAF drove forward through Campbell and his darting run into the box, his run upended with a foul and a penalty to the RAF. Webb confidently stepped forward to take the penalty for the RAF but fired straight at the Army keeper who palmed the ball away to safety.
On the 41st minute, the Army extended their lead with a second goal for Wilkinson whose intricate move and low strike fired past Adams in the RAF goal, RAF 1 Army 2. One minute later a shell-shocked RAF went further behind with Noble scoring the third Army goal. The Half time whistle could not come quick enough for the RAF.
Half Time – Royal Air Force 1 Army 3
The second half started with a flurry of substitutions by both teams which disrupted the pattern of play. The RAF keen to press and to get back into the match were continually frustrated by a strong Army defensive line. On the 60th minute the Army came close to further extending their lead, the Army shot rebounding off the keeper but the follow up shot was fired over the bar. The score remained 3-1 to the Army. 7 minutes later another opportunity was wasted by the RAF with another free kick outside the box coming to noting and being cleared from danger by the Army. The RAF continued to take the game to the Army and were unlucky not to score following a throw in deep inside the Army half providing an opportunity for Webb to shoot, his shot going agonisingly wide. On the counter attack the Army poured forward through Stoneman but his storming run was thwarted by a strong RAF defence who cleared their lines to prevent the Army scoring a fourth.
As full time was drawing near the RAF came close yet again with Evans having a long-range strike that went over the bar. On the 86th minute the Army finally closed out the game with a fourth goal with Williams heading home. 4-1 to the Army. The referee called time on the nights play with the Army retaining the Inter Services Championships for a third consecutive year and would again lift the Constantinople Cup.
Full Time – Royal Air Force 1 Army 4