AFA Senior Cup Quarter Final
I write this match report still actually aching a touch from Saturday. An absolute rollercoaster of a cup tie that ended in pride, disappointment and ultimately embarrassment (Lee Carlin’s oversized bottle of WKD on the return journey).
We headed down to West Wickham with the usual mix of high end train conversation. An Egan stand up routine, Munero sexcapades and very, very poor impressions of Mark’s scouse accent. We arrived at the ground as underdogs on a bitterly cold day, the oppo being a well established Div 1 outfit. I asked a few lads to summon ‘the spirit of Carrow Road’, alas, as one of only two Luton fans in the first team (still a surprisingly high ratio) this had marginal impact. The gaffer demanded we do ourselves justice and leave nothing in the tank, regardless of the result.
We went with 4-2-3-1 to start with and probably had the better of the opening 15, despite a strong wind playing havoc with some of our punts. Matt Shields was causing problems on his first team debut on the left and had immediately been bestowed with the nickname ‘Shieldsy’ by everyone. Creative. The oppo were strong through the middle and moved the ball well in their 3-5-2. There weren’t masses of chances for either side, Ronnie clipped the bar from a free-kick and Egan had one saved. Was a touch backs to the wall towards the end of the half as we struggled to keep the ball, but we went into the break level and in the tie.
The second half was a tight affair, lots of tackling and clapping which for me, constitutes a good game. Marc McVey almost scored by charging down the goalie which would have been huge amateur football points. Our midfield were getting through a shed load of work with Shieldsy and Andy dangerous in wide areas. Our passing could have been a touch better, after a rocky 10 minutes where Lee seemed unable to complete a pass of any description I advised him to ‘play the percentages’. He looked back exasperated ‘what do you think I have been trying to do?’. That did make me chuckle.
After defending so well for 70 minutes, we let in a bit of rubbish goal. A quick free kick caught us napping in the channel and a snapshot bobbled up in front of Stu which he could only turn into the side netting. 1-0 WW.
We raised the tempo to try and force an equaliser as the clock ticked down and probably played our best football of the game. In added time, we won a free kick on halfway, stuck Stu on it and sent everyone up. Stu hung it up to the back stick, Patterson kept it alive and Egan steered home with the right peg. Cue pandemonium and Egan cramping up in the celebrations.
Both teams looked shattered in extra time but what the game lacked in quality, it made up for in drama. In the second half of extra time, it looked as though it was game over. As I mentioned before, I am not a fan of rolling subs. One of the additional pitfalls is that it is difficult to keep track of who’s man is who, especially after 110 minutes. Their skipper attacked the ball well to head home, cue much finger pointing and loudly asking ‘whose man was that?’. Whoever doesn’t ask that question is automatically at fault, so it is essential you shout it as loud and as often as possible until the game kicks off again.
Remarkably, we dug in once more and piled forward. Matt Shields went down the right, got to the byline and dug a great cross out, Patterson arrived with a nosebleed (Hansen/Lawrenson BANTZ) at the near post to crack a volley in off the underside of the bar. Amazing scenes. To be fair, I have a knack of getting some quite big goals. Yep, there I am switching from the third to the first person to praise myself. Class act.
So, this was basically the last kick and lead to a shoot out. Stu saved one, we missed two and we were out at the Quarter Final stage for the second successive year. The media will be asking, should Egan have us practicing penalties? I would argue that you cannot possibly recreate the pressure of a spot kick in front of the West Wickham club house. Fair play to the lads who stepped up, I can conclusively say I wanted no part of one.
Needless to say, the night descended into consolation Jagermeister, darts songs and Stu allegedly/definitely getting pied on the 43 on the way home.
Absolutely gutted to have gone out in that manner but proud of the attitude and application of the team. I am not one for heroic defeat, but we matched West Wickham and fought back on two occasions where it looked like the game was gone. I couldn’t have asked for any more from the lads. It was one of the most enjoyable games of the season, the tackles were flying in but it was played in the right spirit. If anything, these are the games you want to be playing every week and on Saturday’s evidence, I don’t think we would get shown up in Div 1. We need to take confidence from the display and use it as a fuel for the rest of the reason. We have a tremendous spirit in the team and will get our rewards if we stay focused. Best of luck to West Wickham in the next round and cheers for a good cup tie.
AP : Pennycook, Carlin, Patterson, Egan, Thrale, McVey, Munero, Shields, Kelly, Brown, Adjekwei (Gunyon) (O’Leary) (Fernee)
MOM : Good team performance. Whilst I had to do an ever increasing amount of his running into extra time, I will give it to Egan. Headered, tackled and went down injured in equal measure.