I’d like to dedicate this victory and our thoughts to our striker Leon Mitchell who suffered a family bereavement on Friday evening and couldn’t play today. We’ve now turned the worst of habits (losing five on the bounce) into the best (unbeaten now in six) which reminds us that football is, most of the time about ups and downs so it’s best not to over-react. Our opponents were, for the second time in three weeks a genuine unknown quantity so it was a blow to be without not only Leon but also our keeper Lee Roberts to a back injury. Lee was there coaching stand-in Craig Micklewright (always willing to have a go) from behind the goal on a morning of atrocious weather (full marks to the groundsman at Holly Lodge for getting the game on.
St Michael playing in a version of the Polish national strip were worthy opponents today, contributing to an old fashioned cup tie on an increasingly muddy pitch. Though we dominated the bulk of the possession, it is worth noting that until we added our second ten minutes from the end, this was looking like a 1-0 which left us open to a sucker punch. We started well with Hunter neat and tidy and he and Christie linking up effectively. They hit the post early on after a deflection from a free kick and we had a couple of efforts also. They worked hard and with an extra man in midfield made life difficult for us. They also showed impeccable sportsmanship when Matt Stanton fell painfully and .despite being in a promising attacking position they kicked the ball out of play: Joe replaced Matt after fifteen minutes.
Though we were playing up the slope we looked as if the first half was going to draw a blank which would have given our opponents a reward for their dogged determination but with a minute or so to go Olly broke left and crossed for Hunter to head his second in successive games. They now had it all to do. The tension of the second half was largely technical (the fact we only had one played on my nerves though we looked comfortable). Craig dealt with everything thrown in his direction, Chris was agile at the back and Mark had another storming game in the centre (defensive midfield). I sent on Sammy for hunter and he looked very lively but it took the return of Stew Harvey, veteran of our runs to the final in 1997 and 2001, to calm our nerves.
Stew played a beautiful pass to set Christie away and he drew the keeper and held off the last defender to roll in the ‘insurance’ goal. Then Ben danced through their defence but couldn’t quite find the finish. As he turned in frustration, ready to trudge back to his position Olly flicked a ball back into the box and Ben, back to goal, flicked it in. A satisfying win on a wretched weather day. Good luck to St Michael, a good bunch of lads!