Saturday 14th October 2017 @ The Valley Academy, Stevenage
Shires Cup Round One
Stevenage 1 – 1 Erdington and Saltley (Stevenage win on pens after extra time)
Team: Tyrese, James, Mason, Louie, Toby, Klechai, Reece, Enoch, Alfie, Callam and Liam
Man of the Match: James
This was a ‘proper’ cup clash. A game that had it all. Everything!
The opening half was all us. The Ton boys swarmed all over their southern peers. Overall it’s realistic to say we had over ten chances. Ten really good chances. We hit the woodwork, missed an open goal, were thwarted in a mammoth goal mouth scramble (I still don’t know how!) and undone by some great defending and superb keeping.
This recount of the first half is not just me being biased! The Stevange management said we should have been out of sight by the end of the first half.
Our play was fantastic. Out wide, Reece and Enoch were having lots of fun, as Klechai and Toby linked up brilliantly in the heart of midfield in their first ever game as a pairing. Up front, Alfie was playing intelligently with his back to goal, linking up with the midfield and bringing others into the action time and time again. The defence looked solid, if a little gung-ho! At times they pushed very high up the pitch but their desire not to get beaten meant they were able to get back in position and recover whenever Stevnage countered. With Tyrese being Tyrsese, we knew we were in safe hands.
Our constant pressure paid off when Alfie rifled into the roof of the net from a wide angle. A superb finish and the least he deserved for his first half showing.
We couldn’t have asked for more during the opening thirty minutes.
The second half started in a similar fashion. With a flowing attack down the left, we burst into the box and were awarded a penalty after our cross inadvertently hit the Stevenage defender on the arm. Unfortunately for The Ton, the Stevenage keeper pulled off a fantastic save to keep his team in it.
Then the tide changed.
From this point on we found ourselves all at sea as Stevenage applied huge amounts of pressure. Our shape became disjointed and play scrappy. Yet even during periods of relentless red pressure, we found the passion and desire to throw ourselves in front of crosses, dive into tackles and chase seemingly lost causes. In adversity came an opportunity to show our character. The boys stood up and were counted. They showed how much it mattered to them to represent their community.
After conceding midway through the second half to a super Stevenage lob, we found ourselves playing out ten minutes of extra time. With the ref preparing himself to blow his whistle for one final time to signal penalties, Alfie found himself in space after a sublime touch and turn on the left hand side of the box. Despite the tight angle, he fancied his chances and struck a shot with his left foot, only to see it fall agonisingly wide and nestle into the side netting.
Ten brave, tired boys stepped up to take a penalty in an attempt to fire their district into the next round of the Shires Cup. As always, it was a lottery and unfortunately for us we didn’t have the winning ticket.
Never have I felt so proud of a team in defeat. The boys were incredible and a credit to us all. They could not have done more. They were immense. True Warriors.
Well done Stevenage! You more than played your part in a classic! To bounce back in the second half in the way that you did is something to be rightly proud of. We wish you all the best in the next round of the cup!
As for The Ton…we will bounce back. We always do!
Well done boys!
Up The Ton!