Cracking game today. Two terrific sides committed to attacking football and contested in a brilliant spirit which was a credit to both teams. We led this twice and the final score reflects a period of extra time in which, having gone behind, we were forced to chase the game. The ninety minutes had finished 2-2 which was about right for an old fashioned ‘game of two halves’: we dominated the first and they had the better of the second. Once again today we were ‘victims’ of some very special goals and, though nothing really compensates for a cup exit, the fact this game was decided by real quality is something we have to be big enough to accept.
With the overnight rain and Rowheath’s track record it was a relief to find a reasonably firm surface and we took early advantage. Within the opening five minutes Christie was clearly pushed in the box and Leon cracked home the penalty. We appeared to be giving City plenty of problems but the second goal wouldn’t come, though their keeper made a good save from Leon’s lofted drive. With Mark in front of the back four we had few problems despite City’s excellent forwards, a very tricky left winger and Robbie Hunter’s energy in midfield. We did survive a close shout for a penalty (it was just outside the box) but were disappointed when City carved open our defence to score a neat equaliser.
However, we were certainly not disheartened and immediately returned the compliment. Olly and Nathan combined to set Leon away down the right and his beautiful pull back was driven in by Ben. 2-1 at half time and everything to play for. City, as expected came out with all guns blazing and carried the momentum for much of the second half but we were ultimately undone by three pieces of astonishing skill from messrs Louden and Chattaway. Though City carried much threat it took a brilliant cross shot from Dave Louden to force the game to extra time (there is no level to this).
Then, what I consider to be the tie’s deciding moment. With time ticking away we had concerted pressure on City’s goal which included them heading off the line and then Chattaway making an unbelievable fingertip save from Dave Scott’s overhead kick. This is one of the best saves I’ve seen in many years. Extra time began with City still looking stronger (and a wee bit fitter). They got their noses in front when Dave put through his own goal from a dangerous cross. This, however, was not the decisive goal because we were still very much in it. However Dave Louden had another quality moment up his sleeve with another cracking unstoppable shot from outside the box. Still we came back and put them under more pressure only to be caught out by a well taken free kick for a misleading 2-5 scoreline. All the best to City though, still a very good side and there was some agreeable banter on the sidelines too!