ON the night that Jose Mourinho’s game of cat and mouse failed on football’s biggest stage, Dorset Premier League counterpart Keith Whatling conjured a defensive masterplan as Hamworthy Recreation secured silverware.
While Chelsea were losing their Champions League semi-final to Atletico Madrid, Rec, shorn of the influential trio of top scorer Luke Stone, midfield man Max Wilcock and defender Rikki Walden, rallied to hold league champions Portland United 0-0 after extra-time before winning the DPL Cup 5-4 on penalties.
It looked grim for Whatling’s men when Dan Blackburn rattled the crossbar in the shoot-out but skipper Lewis Whyton hit United’s potential match-winner straight at Rec goalkeeper Andy Knights.
After Rec had levelled, Portland’s Ben Doidge skied the next spot-kick but Sean Griffiths failed to take advantage. However, Knights produced a fine save from Ashley Smith’s effort before notching an assured winner himself.
Despite scooping the club’s fourth League Cup in 13 years during his first season in charge, Whatling played down any comparison with the ‘Special One’.
“There is absolutely no comparison, I can assure you of that,” he said. “A few of the lads joked about it and there were a few comments afterwards but we did what we had to.
“Recently, we have suffered some defensive lapses in the back four and as a team. I felt that if we gave them too much space then we would get punished so we tucked in a little bit and the win was just reward for the lads sticking to what I asked of them.”
On the contribution of penalty-taking custodian Knights, Whatling added: “He was brilliant and deserved man of the match.
“We were always really confident about the penalties, Knightsy saves a lot and that was the key. We said that if we scored ours then he would get us our chance but I didn’t think that would mean him scoring one himself.”
Hamworthy Rec: Knights, Sands, Hatchard (Griffiths, 113), Willis, Bartlett, Ross, Andrews, Blackburn, Purdy (Payne, 24), Dykes (Porter, 84), Midson. Unused subs: Whatling, Downes (g/k).