A sudden-death penalty victory away at London Lions today saw us move into the semi-finals of the League Cup.
It was a far from vintage performance, although we will of course take the victory and not look back.
We seemed to have learned our lesson from the previous round and did start strongly. Lions looked good on the break but we had the better of the early exchanges and grabbed an early goal from Sammy who steered a neat through ball out of reach of the Lions keeper into the far corner of the net
A few minutes later we had the chance to go two up when Keiran’s shot struck the crossbar and Sammy’s follow up was frantically cleared by the Lions defence.
We suspect a second goal would have led to Lions’ heads dropping but, much like the last game we played against them, they came back strongly and started to dominate the mid-field.
We did move the players around in mid-field but could not quite find a formula to compete with the increasing confidence of Lions’ and it was not a complete surprise when Lions equalised after a few promising exchanges.
In the second half we fell into the same trap of ball-watching and simply did not compete for the ball in the way that Lions did. We were solid at the back, but Lions chances were coming more frequently. We looked dangerous on the break, as we always do given our pace, but were far too wasteful when in possession.
Matt had to make a number of tremendous saves to keep us in the game and Ollie, along with all the boys rotating through the full-back positions did well to keep the score at 1 – 1.
As the game went into extra time, we seemed to get our grit back and started to fight for the game again and, whilst we didn’t carve out many opportunities, we did make it much more difficult for Lions.
It started to become clear that the game would go to penalties as we were not carving out enough chances and it didn’t look like Lions were going to get past Matt.
The penalty shoot-out in some ways mirrored the game itself. We started strongly going 3 – 1 up after very strong penalties from Buddy, Luke and James, along with one class save from Matt and the post foiling two of Lions’. At this point it did look like being a formality, albeit we were in a similar position with Omonia in the Challenge Cup and that did not end well.
With only one of the next two penalties required to win the game we succeeded to miss both which again put us into sudden death penalties.
All credit to Ollie who was the first man to volunteer to take the first sudden-death penalty but we offered Keiran the opportunity to avenge his Challenge Cup sudden-death penalty miss which he did as he struck the ball cleanly through the keeper’s legs (he tells us that wasn’t where he was aiming but we don’t believe that for a minute!)
Whilst not a great performance, a tremendous victory and a great afternoon out in both sun and hail !
Man of the match was Matt by a country mile, but very good defensive performances from Ollie and the boys that rotated through either side of him.