Scorers: Gatenby, Tabram, Robinson, Johnson
The 4’s hosted HSBC at New River in the 1st Round of the SAL Minor Cup.
We welcomed Tobias in goal for his 4s debut, with Ziggy Harris, John Murphy, James Rae and Patrick McGlogan making up the back four. APs latest foreign import Emanuel was stationed on the left wing with Liam Doyle earning a well deserved start on the right. A no nonsense pairing of Carl Robinson and Stu Johnson starting in centre mid. Up front Alex Tabram was joined by John Gatenby. Elvis Semaj and Jack Morris starting on the bench.
After playing some great football in patches over the last few weeks the pre match chat emphasised sticking to a short passing game, keeping our lines more compact and defending from the front. After taking about 10 mins to settle in we took the lead through Gatenby, after some great interplay up front. We were soon two up after a great piece of link up play down the left hand side, with Emanuel playing Gatenby in down the line, who crossed it over to Tabram to finish. Somewhere in the build up there was also a lung busting run from Carl. AP remained dominant for the rest of the half controlling the center of the park and thanks to great work upfront from Gatenby giving the HSBC defenders a torrid time and who, without the HSBC keeper making a couple of smart saves, could have had a couple more goals before half time. We restricted HSBC to a couple of chances from long range which Tobias dealt with well.
Half time team talk was to carry on as we had been in the first half and to try and get a goal early on to close the game out. Second half kicked off with Elvis and Jack coming on to replace Tabram and Gatenby up front much to the relief of the HSBC back line. As has been typical of many of our games so far this season our play did not match that of the first half and the game became alot more stretched and turned into a bit of a scrap. We managed to go three up after a great bit of skill and shot from Jack was handled on the line leading to a penalty. Stu stepped up to “power” the ball home. We should have seen the rest of the game out from this point but HSBC got one back from a well struck freekick from the edge of the box which gave them a bit more belief and they started to push men forward. With about 20 mins left we conceded a soft penalty that thankfully was blasted over the bar in the style of Jaap Stam which more or less killed off any hopes HSBC had of getting back into the game. The remainder of the half was used mainly as a side show for Carl and his opposite number trying to show which one of them was the hardest which ended up with them both picking up yellow cards. Robinson eventually got our fourth with about 10 mins to go and from then we defended solidly to deny the oppo any clear cut chances.
Overall a mixed performance with AP in charge for the first half while the second turning into more of a classic cup game or as John Murphy said after the game “The Twilight Zone”. Good debuts from Tobias in goal and Emanuel who had some nice touches and an good eye for a pass. Next week we need to make sure we can sustain our first half performance for the full 90 mins.