Challenge Cup 2nd round
Whetstone Wanders Panthers 5-3 Northwood Reds 2 (AET)
Player of the match Rayyan
Today due to injuries and non-availability only 9 boys were available for today’s game but they came so very close to knocking out a team from the league above in the second round of the Challenge Cup.
As there were no subs this week it made the managers task of picking the 9 to start very easy, the only real change to the usual staring formation was to see Joshua start in the middle of the back 3 with the usual fullbacks of George & Lewis Ryan. The midfield of Daniel, Lewis Reid, Declan & Callum with Ashley playing the lone strike role. Rayyan started in goal.
The game started at a good pace with both sides testing each other out with chances going both ways. Whetstone hit the post then moments later Northwood went up the other end from a good counter attacking move that saw Ashley shoot just wide. Again Whetstone came forward putting Northwood under pressure but an in form Rayyan was a match for all that was coming his way showing good handling and some excellent shot stopping. The boys did find it a little difficult to get out of their half kicking against a strong wind and the famous slope that goes from side to side and slightly up & down on this pitch at Whetstone, though the boys did continued to try and play their passing game. Both sides had a fair share of the chances in an eventful first half but the teams came in evenly matched at 0-0, at halftime.
The second half started pretty much the same as the first with both teams trying to keep the ball down and playing under difficult weather & pitch conditions. Then eight minutes in Whetstone finally broke the deadlock with a well taken gaol that Rayyan had no chance with. Northwood again created chances with Ashley, Callum and Lewis Reid having efforts on goal but it was looking like itwasn't going to go in today. Ten minutes later Whetstone got a second from a well worked move , but this goal only seemed to spur the Northwood boys on. Then 3 minutes after conceding the second goal the Woods got one back from a good interception & pass from Callum who found Lewis Reid & got Northwood back in it 2-1. The boys were now playing with the type ofintensity that we only usually see when it is next goal wins it in training ! After another surge forward the ball found Lewis Reid who scored his & the teams second with near enough the last kick of the game 2-2. From the resulting kick off the ref who I must today was exceptional blew his whistle for full time sending the tie into extra time.
The boys came in for a quick drink and some last advice from the coaches for the first 10 minutes of extra time, though some hadn’t realised we were going into extra time and asked if it was OK to go home ??
Whetstone kicked off the extra time & seemed to start very quickly and the now tiring Northwood team were caught cold from the kick off and Whetstone went back into the lead 3-2. Again John & I could not fault the commitment ,perseverance & the effort of the 9 boys who were there today, asthey were still pushing forward trying to get the game back. More chances for Northwood came and went but then an individual bit of skill from Joshua saw him unlock the Whetstone defence go through and beat the keeper 3-3, the first half of ET came and the boys turned straight around..
Northwood started the second half of extra time brightly and went really close with a good move that finished with Joshua putting a shot inches past the post, then from the resulting goal kick Whetstone went back up the other end and scored 4-3. . Again the boys pushed forward looking for another equaliser and again found a keeper in good form and shots hitting both uprights as well as going very close but would not find the back of the net. One last effort saw most of the Northwood team in the Whetstone half only for the home team to break out and score with the final kick of the game 5-3.
Overall another great performance against a team from the league above, and the boys showed enormous effort throughout the game and extra time, I'm sure they will all sleep well tonight.