St Mary’s 3 v 2 Zion Athletic

20th April

When we beat Zion Athletic 4 v 0 a few weeks ago, (albeit with 3 set pieces going straight in), we were warned that they would have their full team out for the final and we didn’t doubt it. We started well for the first 5 minutes and forced a couple of set pieces which were whipped in perfectly and just evaded a flick into the net, However Zion then started playing and showed much more solidity at the back, they withstood our set pieces and forced chances from their own throw ins and corners. Both teams forced half chances breaking with Zion having more possession in the opposition half as we couldn’t really get going. Zion had a goal ruled out for offside and a couple of crosses well defended or narrowly evade the attacker. At the other end we hit the post through Beeson and had a Weideman shot tipped around the post as we started to get the ball down. Neither team could force the gilt edged chance until just before half time a free header was well saved by Lutwyche.

We have spent two seasons knowing that the route to a win is keeping a clean sheet and then getting a goal at the vital time. A few positive words were exchanged at half time regarding keeping the ball more effectively and they worked as we started much more cohesively. This was rewarded when a good move ended up on the right and the pull back was lashed into the net by Coleman for 1-0. We are always confident when we go one up but Zion had other ideas and from a disputed long throw the ball came out of the floodlights and was flicked in. This had been coming as both teams were looking dangerous form throws and corners.

We re-focused following the goal and had to withstand more Zion pressure, again especially from set pieces where their ‘good headers’ outnumbered our ‘good headers’ all game. As previously mentioned we have a habit of scoring at the vital time and a great passing move put Wiedeman clear where he held off the defender and fired into the bottom corner in off the post, then 2 minutes later a move from the back gave the ball out to Beeson who cut in and whipped the ball across which a defender could only flick on to Locke who was once again in the ‘right place at the right time’ to place a header past the keeper from close range.

This could have been game over and really should have been, but Zion had been in the game throughout and pushed again. A great through ball split our defence and when Lutwyche collided with the Zion striker on the edge of the box some (Zion) thought red card and some others penalty. I may, (obviously), be biased, but I thought the excellent referee Brad Tonks got the decision correct as it was outside the box, going away from goal, and two players were covering. A yellow and a free kick which went over… Zion were still not finished and their excellent captain rose high form a corner with the entire Zion team minus the keeper in our box to head in a corner with 1 minute left to make it 3-2 to St Marys.

We managed to hold out a nervous final minute via a corner and long throw to close out our first cup win since 2007/08, signalling the usual wild celebrations! Thanks to Zion for a great game and we look forward to more close games next season when I am sure they will be after revenge! Now we need to try to win our next two games to win the double…

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