Smithswood Firs held no fears travelling to Coton Green on Saturday despite them being fifth in the Division above. Paul Ryder and his team have been playing some of their best ever football this season and were confident as they arrived at the ground.
From the first whistle they didn't disappoint as they dominated possession early on and played some fantastic stuff as they attacked Coton Green. They got the breakthrough 12 minutes in following a great ball out of defence by Carl Thompson to Dan Russell who just couldn't get it under control like he wanted but the bounce deceived the defender who handled and the referee had no choice but to award the penalty. Adam Rooke stepped up following his first ever miss in seven years a few weeks ago and buried it in the back of the net. Smithswood restricted Coton Green to a few chances and the only surprise was that the came in at half time leading by only one goal. They had plenty of chances to possibly put the game beyond Coton Green but didn’t take them.
Coton Green came into the game more in the second half as they sniffed the chance to get back into the game. It only took them 8 minutes to level. It came from a corner as Jamie Shipway rose to beat the keeper and defenders to nod home. They were 2-1 up 10 minutes later as Smithswood Firs had a corner following a great save from the keeper from Sam Hulme. Coton Green won the header and broke down the right and Jamie Shipway was unmarked in the middle and slotted home to give his side the lead.
Smithswood had to dig deep as they were still playing great football but were missing lots of chances as a few players could have easily walked off with hat-tricks. Sam Hulme went close within the last 10 minutes as he looked to have beaten the defender who then appeared to haul him down in the box. The ball was cleared but no penalty given, as everyone was appealing to the ref, Carl Thompson brought the clearance down thirty plus yards out and arrowed a left footed shot over the keeper to square things up and take the game to extra time.
Paul Ryder had no doubt his team could win in extra time and that their fitness would be a big factor. The game was decided by two of his substitutes. First Liam Williams picked the ball up on the edge of the area to curl a quality shot of a shot in the bottom corner. He ran over to celebrate with his son and was booked by the referee for doing so which was the only minus point Smithswood would have against him as he controlled the game excellently. The game was put to bed 2 minutes before the end as Danny Charlton skinned the full back and crossed for Liam Williams. He tried to control it but it was just too far away for him but it fell for Nathan Leek who slotted home to send Smithswood Firs into the next round.
Next up is an away trip to AFC Solihull next Saturday 3pm Kick off at Tudor Grange as The Lions look to keep themselves top of the Division.