A little bit of club history was made on Saturday afternoon, as the Robert Parker Stadium staged an international match for the first time. The fixture was a European Deaf Football Championship qualifier between Great Britain and Sweden and the selection of Ashford Town (Middlesex) to stage this decisive fixture was both an honour for the club and a tribute to all those - past and present - who have helped develop what was once wasteland into the ground we know today.

The match was the final fixture in a three-team qualifying group for the 2015 continental tournament, which will take place in Hanover, Germany. Both nations had already played Belgium and Sweden arrived at the RPS knowing that, thanks to their 1-0 home win over the Red Devils, a draw would secure their place in the Championship. For Great Britain - who had led 2-0 in Belgium before losing 3-2 - a win by any scoreline would see them through on the head-to-head comparisons, while a 3-2 victory for Team GB would enable both Sweden and Great Britain to qualify.

On a sweltering day, a sizeable crowd turned out to witness what was a very good match indeed, with both teams displaying a high level of technical ability. Great Britain dominated the game from the start and created chance after chance, but were unable to take advantage. This was in part due to an outstanding display of goalkeeping by visiting stopper John Novak, but GB were also guilty of some wayward finishing. Britain's Andrew Reay did manage to beat Novak with a clever flicked header, but was unfortunate to see the ball hit the far post and spin out of the goal.

With the game goalless at half time, Sweden made a double substitution in an effort to shore their team up but it was Great Britain who scored just three minutes into the second half, Andrew Reay's strike proving too good for Novak.

Great Britain continued to dominate possession, although they were not creating chances in the same volume as they had during the first half and the home side would come to rue not making the most of their earlier opportunities to score. Midway through the second half, Sweden brought on Jacob Maiss for Nabil Tebibel and with fifteen minutes to go, the substitute struck what turned out to be Sweden's only shot on target, beating home keeper John Atkinson and levelling the scores.

Although Great Britain swarmed forward in search of a second goal, Novak continued to play imperiously in goal, although the visitors rode their luck at times, clearing one effort off the line and somehow surviving in the final seconds when a low cross flashed across the face of goal and the home side came agonisingly close to putting it into the net.

The Swedes celebrated enthusiastically with their supporters at the end of the game, while for Great Britain there is one final chance to make it to Germany, as the team will now play Norway in a play-off for one of the final three places at next year's European Championship. That match is to be played in September and GB will enjoy home advantage again. The date and venue of the match will be influenced by the Norwegian team's travel arrangements, as well as other factors, but regardless of that we thank Great Britain Deaf Football for giving us the honour of staging the match and hope that the day was largely an enjoyable one.    

Forthcoming Events

25 Nov 2017
03:00PM -
Evo-Stik League South v AFC Rushden & Diamonds (H)
28 Nov 2017
07:45PM -
Evo-Stik League South v Hartley Wintney (a)