Brereton Social Lion stormed into the 4th round of the Staffs cup with a battling display away in Stoke against The Black Lion. A bad start to the game for Brereton with Matty Hackett unavailable again and top scorer Tom Wright out injured. Added to the other injury problems for the Lion this was real bad news. More bad news when upon arrival in Stoke the Lion were informed there were no changing facilties! Great start, especially with the rain hammering down.
Better news on the pitch though with star winger Cunny opening the scoring after only five minutes. Targetman JR Dutton competed for a flick on and Cunny gambled on the home keeper making a mistake on the greasy pitch, which he did. The ball was dropped at Cunny's feet for an easy tap in. 1-0.
Black Lion responded well though and their direct style (LONG BALL) was causing a few problems. It was a very fast opening 15 minutes, especially since The Lion have not played in 3 weeks. Making his debut for The Lion was ex-Pear Tree and Lea Hall player Danny Conroy. His first game for 4 years after touring the world singing and entertaining.
The Black Lion found an equaliser on 20 minutes when a free kick swung in from the right was met by a close range header. Poor marking from Brereton and something that needs sorting.
The first half was a scrappy affair. The weather, pitch and the very, very poor ref made it a stop/start game. When The Lion did get the ball on the deck and fed Cowlishaw and Cunningham they looked dangerous. Ben Cushen hit the bar from a header at a corner on the 30 minute mark.Controversy just before the half time whistle when a superb through ball released JR Dutton one on one with the keeper. JR squared it to Cunny who thought he had hit goal number 2 of the game. However the home linesman, and in particular the ref got the rules mixed up and dissallowed the goal, wrongly so.
HT 1-1.... Manager Corrigan asked the players to keep battling away and break well.
The second half saw The Lion look towards JR, Cunny and Sam for more attacking fire. Massive credit to Jake Daley and Sam Deeley in centre mid, both players worked so hard and always showed for the ball in a very boggy midfield. The Lion took the lead when the dangerous JR was fed by a lovely lofted ball by Cowlishaw. JR composed himself then blasted the ball past the keeper. However you always felt that the Black Lion were not going to stop scrapping to get back into the game and a 3rd Lion goal was needed. JR nearly got a brace when a superb drilled cross from Cunny was miscued wide. JR was really enjoying his role up front after spells at sweeper and centre mid this season.
A massive shout out at this point must go to the Lion defence, and to single someone out Jamie Southwell. Jam has seen his Lion career stall due to some injury problems but he was a rock at the back today and got his head to some vital clearances. As per usual Dan Cushen was a safe pair of hands in goals.
The Lion made it 3-1 when Cunny again weaved his magic on the left wing. His looping cross from the byline found Conroy at the back post who was delighted to have a tap in. What a debut!
Everyone worked so hard to keep the Lion strong in this second half, and what was so impressive was they way that players simply kept on running to close down and the way that players filled in positions for each other was very pleasing. It was a true TEAM effort and more displays like this will bring home shiny trophies.
There was still time for The Lion to let in a sloppy goal, again from a set piece. 3-2 with five minutes to go, this was a true test of character. Superbly the Lion held strong and were buzzing at the full time whistle.
Credit to the brave 11 who battled hard to stay in this cup. A lot of things were against the Lion but they kept on battling and got what they deserved.
MOM= A lot of candidates, with everyone getting a real high mark. offensively Cunny was brill but at the back Southwell was strong time and time again so he gets the reward this week.
NEXT WEEK= Hussey Arms away in the Lichfield Charity cup. More of the same please!! Training Wednesday at 8 and Crimbo Curry this Saturday! Get selling them tickets!