A strong Lion performance resulted in them sweeping aside Cheslyn Hay in the quarter final of the Cannock Chase Cup. A home game in the last 8 against a team struggling in division one was a potential banana skin, especially with The Lion not having kicked a ball for weeks. However The Lion were hungry to progress into the last four and took their chance.
Manager Corrigan opted for a more direct approach, with skilful Cunningham up front with target man JR Dutton. Returning from injury and strengthening the side were Matyus, Simpson and Houston. Absent from the squad were Dan Cushen, Stockhall, Daley and Matty Hackett.
Winter was in the nets and the Cat was hoping to produce a top goalkeeping display to keep the Lion in this trophy. Franklin, Cockayne and Ben Cushen joined Matyus in defence, The Pig and Alex Houston were on the wings with Cowlishaw and Simpson in midfield.
A strong start for The Lion caught Cheslyn Hay napping. The visitors were bravely trying to play the ball out from the back on the bumpy pitch but the hard working Lion side were not allowing them time to settle. A couple of dazzling runs from Simpson cut the away defence to shreds, however despite testing the keeper twice Simpson could not get the opening goal.
The first goal of the game was scored by The Pig, who despite being moved to the left wing showed that he can still keep hold of his top scorer stat. A smart finish in the box took a slight deflection to beat the roly poly keeper. 1-0.
Credit to The Lion who smelt blood at this point and really went for goals. JR had a decent penalty shout turned down on fifteen minutes. The Cheslyn Hay defence simply could not contain the movement of the Lion forward line. Goal number two came ten minutes after the first, an Alex Houston cross was met by JR Dutton from close range. 2-0.
A third goal had Corrigan jumping for joy. A strong run by Tommy Wright down the left seen him drive a cross from the byline. Once again JR Dutton was the fox in the box and supplied the finish. 3-0.
Even though The Lion did not add any more goals before the half time whistle some of the football at times was superb. Fast, quick, two touch passing on a tricky surface was a joy to watch. A shell shocked Cheslyn Hay just could not get a foot in the game. Cunningham was turning it on at will, and Houston and Wright were always offering pace on the flanks.
A minor blow for The Lion before half time when Simpson limped off with a knock to the knee. Great to have him back and hopefully his substitution was only precautionary.
A sloppier half for The Lion, who naturally tired a little. Crozier was the first sub on for The Lion and his work-rate, energy and willingness to chase his own first touch is a credit. Later on in the half Dunn and Mark Hackett added fresh legs to the game, and with poor timekeeper Sam Deeley not getting onto the pitch it shows the strength in depth the Lion now have for the second half of the season.
Cunny made it 4-0 on the hour when a superb through ball from Cowlishaw was met with a cool one-on-one finish.
This is where The Lion switched off slightly. A superb save from Winter five minutes earlier was spoiled when the Iker Cassilas lookalike let an easy cross through his hands and into the net. 4-1.
The Lion should and could have added more goals in the second half. Most of the forwards were guilty of missing at least one chance each. Gary Dunn smashed one into the top corner from 18 yards out to show them how it’s done. 5-1
Cheslyn Hay scored another goal when a fluke cross sailed into the back of the net. 5-2
MOM= Alex Houston: His first start for months and he never stopped running! Full of energy, crosses and direct wing play, great to have him back.
Next Week: Tean Albion away in the Staffs Cup.