7th February League Cup Quarter-Final
Credit today has to go to the match officials, Andy, Lee and Francois for getting this game on and to both sides for producing a cracking game on what was at times a very difficult pitch, (there was in truth much more ‘give’ in one half than the other). Monyhull gave a good account of themselves today, in all aspects: ability, effort and attitude. They are clearly a team on the ‘up’ and can only improve by being in these especially important games, which mean something: I’m sure they’ll have more in their push for promotion. They had a couple of really good lads in midfield and a right winger with lightning speed but more importantly they played as a team and worked hard for one another.
Luckily though, in a terribly inconsistent season, we were very much on our game today and I think, with one frustrating exception, we played it absolutely right. With Hunter and Lee suspended and Christie unfit and Ben only well enough for the bench, Mark had to shuffle the pack, selecting a 4-1-4-1 with Craigy running a lone furrow up top and Matty Stanton and young Brad providing support wide. This worked very well with all three having excellent games: Craig was made for these conditions and caused them trouble all day. However this was true of all of our players today with Mark as the fulcrum, inspiring a more direct approach which suited the conditions. Clive continues to impress and Dave Scott was a rock at centre back and needed to be.
We almost scored in our first attack and forced a couple of corners. Then Monyhull got into their stride and offered plenty of threat which kept our defence on their toes. Meanwhile their keeper made two acrobatic saves from good efforts from Lance and South as we began to impose ourselves. Stew was doing sterling work at full back getting forward, and it was he who opened the deadlock after 25 minutes. He drove a free kick from 20 yards which took a wicked deflection to leave the keeper helpless. I could see we’d need a second and we did have the ball in the net but it was called back. Then on the stroke of half time they issued a warning when Lee had to dive full length to keep out a rasping drive.
The half time chat was wholly positive. We expected a response from Monyhull and got it: they were spirited and determined from the kick off. However once again we got most things right: defending solidly and cutting them apart on the break. This was the only frustration: our second half produced half a dozen proper chances all of which were missed to the horror of those standing and watching, (on and off the pitch!). Craig might have had a hat trick and Matt and Lance both had the kind of chances you dream about! They were still playing good football but not creating chances but the danger of us not taking ours was realised when ten minutes from time their pacey 7 did us on the break, meaning we’d have to win it all over again. I’d put Ben on and Alan Nash, a new forward and both were involved in a final onslaught which had us ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at them! A back pass gave us a twice taken free kick on their six yard line which they defended desperately then Ben crossed and mark powered a header onto the inside of the post and out and I thought maybe it wasn’t our day. No such thing as from the next attack a goalmouth scramble fell to Ben a yard out and he joyfully forced it home. All the best to Monyhull: they did themselves proud.