Home cup match played on 12 November 2022.
Kicked off at 12:00 PM

With so much sport ongoing at the moment, you'll be forgiven for not ear marking this cup match. The sqaud was hit with a number of the lads away at the All Blacks game or the Rugby league world cup semi finals, however it meant we could get in a couple more debuts and get pre-season squad members involved, so they can lace up their boots and put a shift in.

Heading in overnight we had a full 16 for the match, which whittled down to 12 before a rally cry was issued by the gaffa. We were back up to near capacity with lads answering the call earlier on Saturday morning. Not the best start, but players arrived in good time down at raynes park...the only thing missing was the kit bag which remained on a kitchen floor somewhere near shepherds Bush. Xavier having an absolute shocker and in an attempt to redeem himself, pays for Dan to ferry the bag down in an Uber... optimisically thinking it'd arrive before KO. Cue a warm up out of Mike Basset England Manager, invisible cones and borrowing footballs from the childs game next door. Oo and we had no ref until the away manager stepped up to take the reigns.

Despite the comedical start to the day, the kiwi lads started the game with a bit between their teeth carving a few half chances, and putting Exeter under a bit of pressure. Step up Fionn with a Gerrard esq sidewinder pass from dead centre to an on running George Milne down the left wing, who carries into the box to see his shot blocked but Rodney was on hand to tuck away the finish. 1-0 the kiwi lads ??

The first half continues and it's a fairly balanced game, neither team giving an inch. One coaching point for future warm ups is how to take throw ins, both full backs on their final warnings from the ref within 30 mins ??. After a bit of tricky winger play from their #9 they created a scoring opportunity when he squared the ball across the box for his strike partner to infactitly hammer home from close range. The boys rallied, not deterred or scared to play out from the back. However, Sebs rugby boots let him down with a stumble that left the ball 18 yards out in front of their striker who proceeded to place it in the back of the net. 2-1. Half time couldn't come soon enough for the kiwi lads to reset, but fate had one more challenge for the team when an Exeter player dispatched a shot from 24 yards that servered away from defenders and the keeper into the kiwi goal.

1-3 half time.

The second half doesn't start in a good way, two heads conceded in quick succession; one from a corner and the second from a decent Cross from the right. At 1-5 the game was done and it was a battle for pride till the end. The game was still a midfield battle, just the clinicalness of Exeter the difference between the sides. In an attempt to get one back for the boys, Seb risked life and limb again to get on the end of a corner, and gets an elbow to the face for his trouble along with a concussion and a bloody mouth. Subs come back on to help a depleting team, with a classic comment from Ewan who may eventually be ready to play again ??.

The 6th goal still confuses me from a physics perspective but a curling cross comes in bounces just outside the six years box and redirects 50 degrees and gains extra height to lob everyone and drop into the top corner. Upon reflection and a debrief in the pub it was clear that 1 of the 8 kiwis players in the mixer could/should of got to it before it bounced.

The Irish cat, a classic shot stopper, may feel hard done by with the scoreline as there wasn't too much to be done for each goal. That could not be said for the 7th, perhaps exhaustion, perhaps the pumping tunes coming from the spectators behind the goal, he didn't paint himself in glory on this passage of play. Free kick 20 yards out, the cat places the wall to cover the left hand post, the wall is moved back 5 yards by the ref. The wall is NOT readjusted and the cat takes a position quite near the right hand post. The Exeter defenders on the half way line talking in disbelief at the organisation, see their team mate side pass the ball into the empty and unprotected left hand side of the goal. At this point it became comedical and minds had turned to full time and the festivities planned to celebrate Fin and Dom's birthday!

The game ends but the cup run does continue is the "Europa League" version of the League cup. We go again.

Robert Goodwin

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