Stuart Garrod netted five minutes into second-half injury-time to ensure Anthony Whittington’s final game in charge of Mile Oak Football Club ended with a remarkable turnaround triumph.
In a outstanding fightback, Oak netted three times in the final 20 minutes to secure a 3-2 home success over Lingfield in their final Southern Combination League Division 1 match of the season.
With boss Whittington announcing earlier in the season this one would be his last after a 13-year stay in charge, his side wanted to give him three points as a send-off.
For 70 minutes that did not look likely as they trailed 2-0 but an inspired change transformed the game in Oak’s favour. Following a bad knee injury to James Seltzer, Karl Gillingham was introduced and netted less than a minute after his entrance, before winning the penalty for Mile Oak’s equalising goal.
Whittington felt the win was the perfect way for him to step down.
He said: “It was a nice way to end the season for us.
“I said to the players at half-time it was important to fightback and win, not because it was my last game, just the fact you always want to win the last game in any season.
“If you get the three points, especially in the way we did, it leaves you wanting the new season to start, rather than thinking I’m glad that’s over.
“We weren’t that bad in the first half but a couple of silly errors cost us.
“Being 2-0 down at the interval, it was always going to be tough to get back but we managed it.
“Karl came on and changed the game. He scored, then won the penalty for our second. Then Stuart won it for us late on to end the season well.”
Lingfield’s Charlie Dodd opened the scoring seven minutes before the break when he made the most of sloppy Oak defending.
Another error led to Dollard Muimui doubling Lingfield’s lead five minutes into first-half stoppage-time.
Whittington’s final game looked to be heading from bad to worse when Seltzer was forced off with a knee injury 20 minutes from time.
But his replacement, Gillingham, pulled one back less than a minute after his entrance to make it 2-1.
That man Gillingham was once again involved, and after he was upended in the penalty area, a spot-kick was awarded.
Jack Arnold stepped up and slammed the penalty home to get Oak level with 14 minutes left to play.
With time running out, it looked like Whittington would have to settle for a point in his final game. But Garrod had over ideas and his neat chip five minutes into second half stoppage-time ensured Oak ended the season with a 3-2 turnaround triumph.
The victory ensured Oak finished sixth in the table, just five points behind Oakwood, who claimed the final promotion spot.
MILE OAK: A.Stenning; Whiting, Lansdale, Pollard, Austin-Slade; Arnold, Wedge-Bull, Garrod, Pulling; Seltzer, Curd. Subs: Gillingham (Seltzer), Pollard (D.Stenning), Bridge.
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