A SAL Senior Novets Cup quarter final against our current league leaders EBOGs 5th was always going to present a difficult challenge. Despite the late notice of the fixture due to the woeful SAL website availability was good and the only change was the returning Sulemanji up front for Tabram who dropped to the bench with D. Howarth.
We started the game brightly against a youthful EBOGs team – good movement up top allowing us to move up as a team and dominate the first 20 minutes. Around this time Horner was released own the left wing, using his pace he beat the full back to the ball and chipped into the bottom right hand corner. If the team thought we’d go on and dominate from this point as we have in our other home fixtures we were to be sorely disappointed.
EBOGs for the remaining time were the much better side and showed more determination all over the pitch. Their equaliser, a sweeping move down the left and a cross to the back post for an unmarked striker to fire home should have been enough of a wake up call. We did have one glorious chance to make it 2-1 but our striker went for power and it’ll be a long time before he lives that one down.
After a verbal boot up the backside at half time we tried to get back to playing some football and after a more promising opening 10 minutes a defence error from first Taylor and then McGlogan let in an EBOGs striker to round Marshall, the keeper brave but fouling the striker and receiving a yellow and a crack in the ribs. EBOGs called for Marshall to go but the pragmatic referee saw fit to stick to his decision – Marshall dusted himself off and almost saved the penalty.
The game now had an old familiar feeling about it and the defence was jittery, the third came from a corner and the fourth from a break away after Donnelly had lost the ball in their half, the substitute right winger opening up the defence and crossing for the striker to fire home from a tight angle.
Chasing the game Tabram came on for Taylor and went up front and not long after D. Howarth replaced the skipper with Sulemanji dropping back – despite the occasional more positive passage of play we did not improve significantly and the 3 man defence had to put in a series of last ditch tackles to avoid a more embarrassing scoreline.
So out of both cups we have to concentrate on the league – EBOGs 5s were the league leaders before this weekend and on the evidence of Saturday we have to go a long way as a team if we are to challenge them and others for promotion.
Team; Marshall, Taylor (Tabram), Kralik, Kanybekov, McGlogan, Horner, K. Howarth (D.Howarth), Donnelly, Battams, Sulemanji, McGahey