There was disappointment but encouraging signs following our cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Predator who ran out 11-1 winners when we last faced each other back in early October. There's no doubting that we have made huge strides as a team since then however we had to line up without both our top goalscorer and regular left back in Gift & Jude. Ross was also a massive loss as he had to withdraw late due to a leg injury. This meant we had to shuffle the pack however the game plan was very much the same. We knew it was going to be an extremely difficult game and if we were to get anything out of it we had to be at our very best as a defensive unit. We also knew that chances would be very limited for us however we were hoping to nick something utilizing the pace of Mikey supported by both Ethan and Jude Carter in the wide areas. Paddy was also operating in his more preferred number 10 position however it was set to be a frustrating day for our captain. The game began as expected with predator very much on the front foot but our defensive organisation was tremendous. Kalu again stepped up as the commander boosted by the return of Gerard alongside him. Connor and Jay were also equally as solid in the fill back positions shackling their wingers and cutting out the crosses into the box. For twenty minutes the plan seemed to be working until the referee awarded a penalty that should never have been given. Kalu clearly won the ball with a magnificent slide tackle, it may have caused their player to go to ground with the follow through but he got more than enough contact on the ball which had travelled over the line meaning the correct decision should have been a corner kick. Harry got us out of jail with a great save tipping it around the post but the decision had ruffled our feathers and they took the lead when we switched off from the resulting corner. The maybe should have added a second with several other good chances created but our defensive unit again shut the door on them and Harry was in great form. Half time came and with just the one goal in it we were still very much in the game.
The luck swung Predator's way in the second period however we were at fault for their second and third goal which was a real shame as those goals involved Gerard and Kalu who were faultless up to that point. 3-0 was now too big a scoreline to claw back, it wasn't Mikey's day, our best opportunity fell to Ethan who put a great shift in throughout but ran out of steam late on. Pablo and Johnny were magnificent as the two holding midfielders, they held their positions and gave battling displays but the loss of Gift, Jude & Ross definitely had a major effect. Predator added a fourth goal late on to book their place in the final vs Quarry Green Guards and we would like to wish them the best of luck. In terms of our progress restricting them to just the 4 goals despite an 11 goal mauling a few months earlier shows improvement and the work on the training pitch is sinking in. As disappointing as it is to miss out on a final which is a feat we have achieved in our last 3 seasons we can take much encouragement for the remainder of the season as we look to collect as many points as possible to get ourselves back up the league table.