Full time – 0-0 (Won 4-1 on penalties).
For the second week in a row, we were involved in a really battling performance. Norsemen were last year’s beaten finalists, and currently lie in 3rd place in division 1. With the call up of Sam Morris, and the cry-offs through injury of Elion and Wilko, the 2’s were missing 3 influential plays, but Moruzzi came in from the cold as 15th man and Ben Carter came in from the 3rd team (although it was 6 hours and 23 minutes until the 3rd team were informed – a major gripe apparently), and we went with the 13.
The pitch was very heavy, and to be fair with the amount of rain that we had Norsemen’s ground staff did well to get the game on. We started nervously, and took a good 15 minutes to get into the game. The first half was ebb and flow, but and Norsemen had a few good chances to open the scoring, which were all blazed over. They had 2 particular danger men in their lone striker (Red Boots – he must be good!) and a strong right winger who interchanged really well, able to drag skips in from fullback to create the space. However, the centre back pairing of Simmo and German stood rock firm, and Stimp was a commanding presence in goal. However, we were able to create chances ourselves – Tom got in behind the defence on several occasions, and got a shot away at a tight angle, but his shot rolled agonizingly across the face of the goal with no-one having made the supporting run to tap it home. Claude also came close with a long range effort, which whistled just over.
At half time the Gaffer told us not to be overawed, that we were more than matching them and to keep up the fight. We also discussed trying to get Kier and Zack on the ball more often, as we were tending to play everything down the middle. When we came out we were ready to go for another 45 – well, everyone apart from German who got lost in the changing room looking for his kung-fu juice! Again the game ebbed and flowed, with chances at both ends. We kept pressing to the end, and Claude was unlucky not to win the game late on when he was put clean through but snatched at his shot. We also survived a strong penalty shout when the ball was bobbling around in the area. From where your scribe was standing you could not see anything, and as the ref was stood quite near me, that is probably a good thing! (This did not however stop our motor mouth chairman from telling the ref how he made a terrible decision and should have given Norsemen a penalty!). In extra time we took the game to them, and nearly snatched a goal in the first period when Tom skipped past the keeper and hit the post from a tight angle- the rebound evaded the onrushing Zack but found Kier, whose measured finish was cleared off the line miraculously by a Norse defender. The second half was much the same, end to end stuff but no goal, so to pens we went. Considering our penalty record so far this season, I was not hopeful (taken 5, scored 1). However, we had 5 willing volunteers, but only actually needed 4! German lashed the first one home with a precision toe punt, and the Norse player then scuffed one down the middle past Stimp. Tom then gave the keeper ‘the eyes’ and sent him the wrong way, with the next pen well saved by Stimp. Ben Carter then stuck the ball in the top left corner, and the following Norse player then put his penalty somewhere into the stratosphere. Claude then stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty to massive celebration! Fair play to the oppo – they were really dignified in defeat and wished all the best in the next round.
So onwards and upwards to the next round – we have avoided the curse of Essex and will play London Welsh in the next round, the week before Xmas. However, we have lots of games in between now and then, so let’s keep things going!
MOTM – Egan and Simmo joint award – outstanding at the back.
Team – C Simpson, McLoughlin (Fabb), Nugent (Moruzzi), Egan, I Simpson, Wootten, Mbelo, Amankwah, Carter, O’Leary, Spencer.