The 4s were back at the Racecourse for a league cup fixture against Polytechnic 5s from the SAL southern section. With Pitch 2 being waterlogged we were moved to the narrow muddy confines of Pitch 3. Throw an amusingly eccentric old school ref in the mix and the game was all set for a classic cup tie.
AP took the game by the scruff of the neck and made the brighter start creating a number of chances within the first few minutes, several of which fell to Carpenter who had to go off injured after about 10 mins with his hamstring giving in after his fourth scissor kick attempt. We had a number of good chances with Forbes and Kenga before we took the lead about 25 mins in when, after some good interplay in midfield, Kenga latched onto a through ball and blasted past the Poly keeper. The back four had been dealing comfortably with the Poly attacks with Collins cleaning up anything that got through however we were pegged back when a goal kick was intercepted by the Poly forward and finished with a well struck shot from outside the box. This gave Poly a boost and they had us under pressure for the final 10 mins of the half with AP struggling to get their passing game going again as Poly starting pressing with a bit more force.
The second half was a much more open game with AP still having the majority of the ball but struggling to create many clear cut chances. Poly were looking dangerous on the break and had an early chance when their striker put a diagonal shot just past the post after a good individual move. Collins provided the comedy moment of the game when, obviously struggling with the smaller pitch, he casually picked a through ball up a good 10 metres outside his area. He made up for it making a fine save from the resulting freekick and then a superb double save shortly afterwards on another Poly counter. We came close to a winner with 10 to go when the tireless Forbes, who had the better of his full back all game, went on a mazy run down the left with his shot hitting the inside of the post a running clear.
First half of extra time once again found AP in control and we went close from a corner when a Bell looping header hit the top of the bar. With the ref deciding to shorten the second half of extra time to 10 mins we pressed on looking for a winner and came close from another corner which was headed down towards the bottom corner which the Poly defender on the post dove onto it and somehow kept it out. With time running out Forbes once again went past his defender in the box and was brought down by a desperate lunge…a clear penalty to everyone except the ref who deemed it a dive before blowing up to send the game to penalties.
The first four penalties for both sides were well struck leaving the keepers little chance. 4-4 and it fell to Forbes who, channeling John Terry, slipped as he kicked the ball and sent it wide. The last Poly penalty taker made no mistake and put us out of the cup.
Despite the dissapointing result I can’t fault the way we played we passed the ball around superbly at times and cut out the defensive errors that had cost us in previous games. The game was played with an excellent spirit by both sides and well done to the Poly players for staying behind in the bar despite having a long trip back to Chiswick.
Squad: Collins, McGlogan, Smith, Gregory, Fox, Bell, Carpenter, Jones, Forbes, Kenga, Long. Subs: Biss, Tolcher, Johnson