Brereton Lion roared into the semi-final of the Staffs Cup after finally getting the chance to play Cheadle based Tean Albion. The game had already been postponed due to poor weather on three separate occasions. The fixture was originally drawn to be played up the social but cup rules meant the game now had to be completed at Tean Albions ground. Tean Albion had quite a large ground that was very uneven in parts and it was a credit to The LIon who settled in so well.
The Lion were missing key midfielder Stu Simpson, powerhouse Gary Dunn and Sammy Deeley from a very strong squad of 15 players who made the journey over. Dan Cushen was in nets with Mark Hackett, Jimmy Matyus, Ben Cushen and skipper Oli Franklin in defence. The midfield consisted of Alex Houston, Dan Stockhall, Sam Cowlishaw, Tom Wright and Tom Cunningham in the free role. JR Dutton had the job as target man and was charged with making it all link together smoothly. Once again a very strong bench was a pleasing sight for manager Corrigan with Crozier, Cockayne, Matty Hackett and Daley gagging to get on the pitch. Absent for the day with family reasons were management crew Steve and Gary Phillips, who missed a cracking Lion display.
Tean Albion initially looked strong. They are doing very well in the Uttoxeter Prem and had got through to the quater finals with ease. A tall physical outfit they were getting the ball forward well and Matyus had his work cut out sweeping up the danger. Tean Albion had a couple of half chances from set pieces. Quite a scrappy first 15 minutes with both teams a bit nervous and testing each other out. After struggling with the surface at first, the minute that Stockhall and Cowlishaw started to just play small quick passes in the midfield the game began to change in the Lion favour.
Brereton Lion took the lead after 20 minutes with The Pig cutting in from his left wing position. The Pig had already had a mazy run five minutes earlier that had seen him zip past three defenders and burn to the byline. The Tean defence had not learned how to stop The Pig though and his opener was reminiscent of Thierry Henry with a skilful right footed shot curling in from the left. The big Tean Albion keeper simply stood still while the ball curled into the corner. 1-0.
The Lion sniffed blood and added a second goal only five minutes later. Cunningham sprung the offside trap and rounded the keeper after a superb through ball. Cunny had been forced wide by the keepers despairing lunge but produced a quality cross from the wing which was met by a powerful header by JR. A Tean Albion defender blocked the ball on the line but it dropped to the greedy pig who happily smashed it in to the net. 2-0. A great penalty shout was turned down just after these goals with The Pig pulled down by the last man when through on goal. The officialls bottled it.
These goals knocked the stuffing out of Tean Albion, with their manager frantically making substitutions to try and stop The Lion attack. Stockhall was every where across the midfield in a very hard working display and Cowlishaw was his usual calm self whenever he was on the ball. Houston was not having his best game on the right wing but his willingness to work hard and create space allowed others more time on the ball. Cunningham was finding lots of room in his free role and always looked dangerous in attack.
No real chances to report for Tean Albion. A determined Lion defence were meeting every high ball and clearing their lines well.
The next major incident was on 38 minutes with two cards produed by the ref. Cowlishaw went in strongly for a fair tackle which provoked anger from the Tean Albion players. The usual handbags followed with most players pushing and shoving. However it must be noted not one Lion player reacted in abad way, it was just a case of a team looking after each other. The same can't be said for Tean Albion and with tempers boiling over a head butt was thrown in the direction of Ben Cushen. WIth three paid match officialls at the game the offence was easily spotted and the ref produced the red card. Cowlishaw received a yelow card. This seemed to rattle Tean Albion and Cowlishaw was on the receiving end of some meaty tackles. it was decided by Corrigan that it was best that star man Sammy had a period in the subs box as he was either going to get sent off or carried off injured. Onto the pitch stepped Crozier who had spent the first 40 minutes telling his manager and the opposition how he was the new Scotty Parker and would easliy produce the goods on the pitch. Crozier added a lot of energy onto the pitch and the ground he covered and the tackles he threw in were a big bonus to the side.
HT 2-0 to the Lion and Tean Albion were down to 10 men. The Lion were now playing into a strong sun though and the opposition were going to be throwing everything at them to get back into the game.
The Lion started a little sloppy in the second half. Sitting on a 2-0 score line and against ten men I feel too many players went off the boil a little. Tean Albion were nowhere near as strong as I thought they would be and with The Pig, Cunny and Houston always looking to break at pace I always felt The LIon had more goals in them.
Probably the best Tean Albion player was the belt stretcher who played centre mifield. The rotund playmaker had no trouble shaking off the more athletic Crozier at least two times much to the amusement of his Lion team mates after the game. Onto the field in the second half stepped Hackett, Daley and Cockayne with the roll on roll off subs rule being fully embraced by The Lion.
On 65 minutes a frustrated Tean Albion had another player sent off. After a crazy two footed lunge at Matyus the same player then tried to throw an off the ball head butt at Ben Cushen. In true Arsene Wenger style I nver seen the incident but the linesman spotted it and once again, correctly so the ref reached for the red card. What is it about the charming Ben Cushen that seen not one but two opposition players throw the headbutts? ha ha. Write your answers below!
Even with 9 men Tean Albion still chucked all they had at The Lion. On the very rare occasions that Dan Cushen was tested the big keeper was very calm, and his wise tactical advice was helpful. A top keeper and one I would not be swapping in a rush. In fact this week Matt Cotterill has requested a transfer as I will not consider him over Dan Cush for the number 1 spot.
Anyway back to the game and credit to JR Dutton who showed great tactical nous to drop back a little to plug the gaps left by advancing midfielders. The constant marauding runs by The Lion attack were too much for the Tean defence. Stockhall was chopped in the box and The Pig calmly slotted home the penalty for his second Staffs Cup hat trick of the season. The Lion made it 4-0 near the end when a re-introduced Cowlishaw played a very skilful one-two with Cunny and smashed home.
Tean Albion got themsleves an undeserved goal in the final few minutes when a very harsh penalty was awarded against Franklin. 4-1.
A very strong Lion display with every single player producing the hard work required and demanded pre game. Keep on saying it but if this young Lion team stays together, stays hungry and keeps up this level of workrate then special things can happen. The Lion now have to give up their planned free week and face Uttoxeter Town away in the semi final this Sunday. Uttoxeter Town had the benfefit of scouting The Lion out in this fixture so will be well aware who The Lion dangermen are. With Cowlishaw, Crozier and Houston confirmed as absent then little magician Simpson may prove to be the top secret match winner the Lion need. Lets just make sure he is not out on the town! Any sightings of him near a bar and we will arrest him!
Magic Lantern surprisingly crashed out of the other quarter final. So it is now Uttoxeter Town vs Brereton Lion and new Finney Gardens vs Dresden. Lets just keep on winning eh!!
MOM= Many strong displays with every single player producing pleasing performances. The Pig got himself the match ball and his skilful finishing was what got The Lion the deserved lead. His workrate, ability, attitude and skill levels were top notch so its the award for the Piggy this week.