The Semi-Final of the League Cup saw us drawn away to Harvesters North.
Harvesters North currently sit top of the Red division and were on a high after a mid-week win over Pinner, the only team who are serious challengers to their title ambitions.
Having already lost twice to Harvesters North this season, once in the league and once in the County Cup, we knew we had to do something very different to make any kind of impact and thus set ourselves up with an attacking 2-4-2 formation to really take the game to them.
In the first half we did exactly that and certainly in the first 5 minutes or so we looked the more dangerous side.
Harvesters were mounting attacks of their own, but we were getting the ball forward to James and Sammy regularly enough to keep Harvesters at bay.
When the first goal did come after about 10 minutes, it was slightly against the run of play and one that we could have avoided having had two or three opportunities to play the ball out of defence. As it was, Harvesters benefited from a goal poked over the line from half a yard out.
Whilst it would have been easy to think that this was the start of the onslaught, the boys stuck to their task and we continued to give as good as we got. We were only two at the back, yet Barsa and Ollie were dealing with everything Harvesters were throwing at them, and we were still using the additional man in attack to good use.
At half-time, with the score at 1 – 0 we certainly still had everything to play for.
We did come out of the blocks strongly again in the second half, albeit the Harvesters mid-field started to show why they are where they are and whilst we were resorting to a bit of ‘hit-it and hope’, something that has crept into our game recently, they were being much more cultured and working good positions using runners from the mid-field. When their second goal came, after they had blasted a few shots wide from long-range, it meant that we were in for a long and hard struggle.
Harvesters third goal could have been avoided but at that point our heads did drop and in the last five minutes we conceded 3 more goals, each well worked by Harvesters but made easier by our lack of competitiveness, and they went on to run out 6 – 0 winners. Not a score that reflected a large portion of the game but still a scoreline that drives home the difference in levels that we are currently operating at.
We had two chances of our own to speak of, Ben hitting the cross bar with a neat free-kick and a goal-line scramble that looked like it was heading over the line before the keeper managed to smother the ball.
As ever, there were a few very good performances. Ollie and Barsa were great throughout, Barsa edging Ollie to the man-of-the-match award and TJ and Adam proving to be the two players that gave us some bite in mid-field. Other than that, no terrible performances, just a few too many average ones in the second half.
All in all the boys have done tremendously well to reach the last four of the League Cup, remembering that some 60 teams started out on the journey. Something to celebrate in its own right.