Brereton Lion roared into the 2ndround of the Staffs Cup with a superb victory over reigning Staffs Cup holders Dresden. The visitors had a very fruitful season last year, winning their league and collecting 4 cups, however the long journey to the Social would see them going home well beaten, outplayed and empty handed.
Torrential weather conditions were evident and this cup clash was always going to be a very tough affair with the visitors bringing lots of quality, but they were coming up against a Lion side very high in confidence after last weeks demolition of Yates Sports.
Manager Corrigan was able to name a near identical side to last week with the only change being Cowlishaw coming in for the ill Stockhall. Corrigan opted for his familiar 4-5-1 set up, with the impetus being the hard working team ethic and drive that was on show last week.
The game got under way and the Lion were looking sharp, trying to get into their quick passing game early on and keeping up strong pressure levels towards Dresden, not allowing them to get their game going. Dresden had some big strong players but in Ash Carter and Jake Daley they met two of the hardest working and willing battlers around, both competing for every ball and lost cause. Baker was looking to improve on his brilliant recent form and a solo run down the right evading tackles and driving into the box nearly created the opening goal. The left wing magician Simpson, had a great early chance for the Lion when he danced towards goal and could have squared the ball but opted to keep going but to no avail.
On 8 minutes the Lion grabbed a deserved opener, Bakers clip forward was chased down by Cunningham, who applied pressure to the opposing defender and goalkeeper forcing them into an error with Cunningham able to apply the finish and give the Lion the lead.
With this being the Staffs Cup, 3 officials were assigned for the task of refereeing the fixture and in the 1st half a real clanger from the man in the middle as Cunningham raced towards goal he was tripped over by the despairing defender however nothing was given, a clear foul and the defender was lucky to escape punishment. The returning Cowlishaw was showing his ability to control games, with some fine tackling and his hard work across the midfield.
Despite illness Chandler was determined to shake off his autumn bug and put in a superb defensive performance when matched against Dresdens star forward who was playing from the left. Chandlers ability to not only win the ball back in his own half but to alieviate pressure with some high paced dribbling towards the opposition was yet again one of the Lions many arrows to the already finely tuned bow.
HALF TIME: BRERETON LION 1 – 0 DRESDEN FC
Corrigans half time team talk was for the Lion to keep the work rate up and keep the pressure on the visiting side. Chances would fall for the Lion and it was important that they took their chances and put this game to bed.
The second half got under way and the visitors were clearly given the half time hair dryer and came out all guns blazing but their attacks were thwarted by Dutton and Cushen, whose recent form was all too evident once more as they operated together and showed a defensive togetherness that had the Dresden forwards heading back to the drawing board time and time again.
Dresden were clearly getting riled by the Lions work rate and battling mentality, but credit must go to the Lion players as they kept their cool and continued to play their football.
On 53 minutes the sensational Simpson grabbed the Lions second when he collected a Dresden clearance some 25 yards out, before skipping a challenge and striking an unstoppable effort into the far corner of the net. A truly superb strike from Simpson, who just gets better and better.
Last weeks performance from forward Cunningham, was one of grit, hard work and perseverance and he was showing all of these characteristics yet again as he gave the Dresden defence a real run around, with some outstanding hold up play, skills and the ability to create something from nothing. It really is a pleasure to see Cunningham in such good form.
The Lion were fully using the ‘roll on, roll off’ substitution policy and with Houston, Wright and Grant being on the bench they had some fantastic options when required. When Houston came on, there were tell tale signs of another night on the ale, but to Houstons credit he ran himself into the ground chasing every lost cause and showed his great energy levels.
Dresden had chances, with their manager opting for a heavily attack based set up to get themselves back into the game, however whilst pushing forward they left spaces at the back and Cunningham was the man on the prowl. He evaded challenges from the Dresden defence before skipping past the Dresden keeper and was chopped down. Red card to the keeper. A penalty to the Lion. Up stepped the confident Chandler who sent the new keeper the wrong way and gave the Lion a commanding 3-0 lead.
With 20 minutes still on the clock the Lion couldn’t afford to take their foot off the gas and the introduction of the classy Wright and speedster Grant would always give the Lion more chances to grab some more goals. Grants pace would trouble the defence time and time again, with Wrights trickery and brilliant link up the Lion looked dangerous every time they went forward. Baker was forever a thorn in the oppositions side and should have scored to cap a fine display but it wasn’t to be. Goal keeper Cushen was put under pressure from the visiting side, but showed great calmness and pulled off a string of saves to keep Dresden at bay.
Dresden pulled a goal back with their number 10 volleying home from a corner. 3-1.
A superb team effort for the remainder of the game would see the Lion claim the victory and get their passage into the next round of this cup, dubbed the champions league of Sunday morning football.
FULL TIME: BRERETON LION 3 - 1 DRESDEN FC
Overall, a superb display from the Lion in very tough conditions against a strong physical Stoke side. Yet again, this hard working team ethic, battle and the pure will to win was a major factor in this victory.
MOM: TOM CUNNINGHAM – A brilliant display from Cunny, his non stop approach, mixed with his skill and trickery gave the Dresden defence a torrid time.