HSBC 8s 2 – Alexandra Park 8s 2 (2-4 aet)

AFA Cup | January 18, 2014

Scorers: Kendall, Jenkins(3)

It had been a miserable week that preceded this match and I think this led to many of the team to assume the match would be cancelled. So it was an unprepared team with some last minute additions (due to a few cry offs) that made the long trip down to south London to face the HSBC side the AP8’s defeated in the prestigious ‘Spring Cup’ final two years ago. It was nice to be facing them in an actual competition this time around!

We kicked off and immediately started applying good pressure, which was useful as our keeper was running late and Liam (the winger) temporary filling in between the posts. He kept a clean sheet too, a permanent 2nd choice keeper I say! However, the 8’s never like to make it too easy, and before too long we were one down in the most unfortunate of circumstances. From a corner we only half cleared and the ball was crossed back in again. One of our defenders, I forget which one, heroically stretched and managed to get the smallest of flicks on said cross. This flick was just enough to place the ball beyond Paul the keeper, but not quite enough to put it beyond the post. A rather cruel, if superbly taken own goal, which the defender in question most certainly cannot be blamed for, whoever they were.

Being one-nil down AP were now in their element, absorbing another period of pressure with a good solid formation and everybody doing their bit all over the field. Soon we were on the ascendancy again, and before too long Reece got on the end of a cracking ball, rounded the keeper, and slotted the ball home for the equalizer, 1-1. We continued to have the better of the game for the remainder of the first half, but unfortunately were unable to convert it into a lead. We went into the break with the game all level.

Again we started the second half the better, apply pressure and really pushing for the lead. Possibly we were pushing slightly too hard because one of their midfielders managed to break away, shrug off two tackles, play in their striker who beat a defender and our keeper from a tight angle. All in all a rather good counter attacking goal, but perhaps we all should have done better to stop it.

Either way we were now 2-1 down and started to notice the time dwindling away in this crucial cup match. Well commeth the hour, commeth the man, or so I thought. With their keeper clearing the ball a quick tackle and a pass left the ball at Tristan’s feet, who struck a lob I was sure was going to be a goal of the season contender (though I am starting to realise there is a ‘goal of the season contender’ in every match report I write!). The beautifully struck lob seemed certain to level the game when out of nowhere their keeper (who I am sure is a ninja in his spare time) made an amazing backwards leap and somehow managed to push the ball out for a corner. It was cruel for Tristan to be robbed of a spectacular goal by a crazy jumping ninja keeper, but hey – that’s football!

So still being a goal down AP continued to apply pressure, and eventually the equalizer came, with perhaps a rather large slice of luck. Reserve goalkeeper and part time winger Liam was pushing on the right wing a struck a cross into the oppositions box. The cross was deflected (it’s cruel when that happens) and flew instead towards the oppositions goal. Ninja keeper again jumped to the rescue, but could only push the ball onto the bar which bounced back onto the line. So, with the ball next to the goal, and the keeper on the floor, up steps Adam ‘The Force’ Jenkins, who is always in the right place at the right time, to put the ball in the back of the net. Finally it was 2-2 and we were back in the game. The remainder of the match saw an equal amount of pressure and possession for both teams, with everyone having some bum tweaking moments at some point or another. The top picks were when they hit the bar and the post, with Harold being the saviour on the latter occasion. After the 90 minutes both teams probably felt that they were unlucky not to win in normal time, and despite much pleading with the ref for a replay, we were heading for another 30 minutes of extra time.

We started in the ascendancy in the first half on extra time, applied much pressure, but for some reason could not convert it into goals. After the first 15 minutes we felt we should win this match, but were currently unable to do so! The second half of extra time started in much the same way, with our opponents showing signs of weakness we were ready to capitalize! Again pressure on the opposition’s goal left to another partially cleared save, with our bearded wonder being on hand to head the ball into the net for a 2-3 lead in favour of AP.

HSBC knowing they had only minutes to save their cup run started pushing forward in numbers seeming determined to equalize. However AP stood resolute, keeping to their formation and with the whole team defending well withstood, and took advantage of the opposition’s pressure. Another great ball through to Jenkins left him with time and space in front of the goal. Despite this however he decided to hit the shot first time, and rather expertly placed the ball in the bottom left hand corner well away from the keeper, proving that he can indeed score from further than 3 yards out! This was the final nail in the Banker’s coffin and we saw out the game without any great difficulty.

It was a shattered and rather wobbly AP team that hobbled back to the changing rooms. After not playing for a month, a 120 minute match is quite draining, but it was worth it with the AP8’s heading into the semis!

MOM: With two injury time goals sending us through to the semi final the MOM has to go to Adam ‘The Force’ Jenkins, but a good match was had by all. It was a really good team performance, well done lads!

8th Team / Match Reports