Home cup match played on 16 April 2016.
Kicked off at 3:00 PM

The rain almost put an end to the Les James Cup Semi-Final on Saturday. as it started to pour down early Friday and didn't stop until well into the early hours of Saturday. The reason it stopped then was because it began to snow so the outlook wasn't positive when Neil Armstrong, Paul Ryder and Sean Williams arrived at the Mackadown early Saturday morning. Their fears were realised when they walked up to the pitch as it was severely waterlogged in a lot of areas and there was clearly no way they would be able to make it playable.

Due to the massive fixture overload all teams have at the moment, Smithswood looked at the possibility of paying for another ground to get the Semi-Final on. The groundsman at The Glades in Solihull confirmed that their pitch was playable and available. The next call was to the League who were happy, the ref who was happy but requested a 2pm kick-off due to the rain forecast and then Paget Rangers. Everyone agreed to the switch and the game was on albeit at a different location and kick-off time.

Smithswood were without Harry Donaghey who is cup tied in this competition having played at a higher level in the League. Lee Sayer, Craig Powers, Harry Gardiner and Daniel Wall were all absent but Carl Thompson was back after moving away recently to take a place on the bench.

Smithswood went with the 4-3-3 formation which had seen two great second half performances against Perrywood and Northfield recently lining up with the following,

Duffy, Clarke, Rooke, Leek
Thomas (Capt), Weeks, Short
Reece, Charlton, Anderson

Subs: Cottrill, Thompson, Russell, Sayer

With the game being covered by Switch radio and a decent crowd at The Glades, substitute Lewis Cottrill made it very entertaining for them on the sideline as he had a sing off against all the Paget Rangers fans as both sets of supporters created a great atmosphere in the stands.

The home side wanted to carry on the second half performance from the Northfield game in the week where they had reverted to an attacking 4-3-3 formation. The idea is for Ash Weeks and Anthony Short to break up the play and make sure Adam Rooke and Scott Clarke have cover to free up Curtis Thomas to roam and get on the ball as much as possible.

Paget have been in fantastic form and have recently been named Team of the Month so this was always going to be a tough match for Smithswood but there was a belief in the dressing room. The club's aim has always been to get promotion and play this level of teams every week. While the fixture pile up hasn't helped with this it is still in their own hands and there was a feeling that the lads wanted to go out and prove on the pitch that they were good enough.

The home side settled the better and played some exciting football in the opening exchanges. The midfield three seemed to throw Paget a little who were maybe expecting a 4-4-2 as Ash Weeks and Anthony Short dominated the early play with Curtis Thomas dropping into little pockets between their midfield and defence. One thing that was apparent from the start was the work rate of the home side as everyone seemed up for it and were fighting for first and second balls. Smithswood Firs made the first breakthrough twelve minutes in from a Curtis Thomas corner. His cross was driven in and almost caught the keeper unaware as it went straight through everyone. There was a scramble on the goal line and the ball bounced clear to the edge of the six yard box for Jack Duffy who put his foot through it and rifled his shot into the top corner leaving Peter Maguire helpless as the pace beat him.

Adam Rooke and Scott Clarke were holding a great line at the back and keeping tight to Mark Bellingham and Daniel Carter. They are a potent front two for Paget Rangers but Rooke and Clarke were keeping them quiet in the first half and Carter was having to drop deeper to try and create any chances. Nathan Leek and Jack Duffy were completing the defensive performance as they balanced attack and defence perfectly.

The key to the game was the midfield and Short, Weeks and Thomas were certainly winning the battle. Paget Captain Craig Evans called for more help in the middle from his wingers to try and help so that they could get more time on the ball as they were being restricted to long range shots or having to hit the long ball for Bellingham and Carter to challenge for.

Adam Reece was also key to the way Smithswood were playing as although he was part of a front three with the pacey Danny Charlton and Aaron Anderson, he was putting a real shift in defensively and was helping the midfield when they needed it while still supporting Charlton and Anderson who always put a shift in themselves. Reece almost got his reward ten minutes before the half as the home side put pressure on Paget Rangers late on. Danny Charlton broke inside from the left and picked out Reece with a cross. Reece won the header but watched as it just looped over the bar but it was a warning for Paget as Charlton started to get some space to run at the defence.

As the game went into injury time in the first half, it was Charlton who sent the home side crazy with a quality goal. Curtis Thomas played the ball to him just in front of the defence. Rather than cross this time he hit a 20 yard shot low past Maguire into the bottom corner. A fantastic time to score before half-time but no more than Smithswood deserved from their first half performance.

If Paget had underestimated Smithswood, they were going to come out firing in the second half to try and put it right so the home side knew they had to keep doing what they were doing and winning their individual battles all over the pitch. Jake Woodward hadn't had to make a save as the long range shots were all going wide but he knew there would come a time when he would be called upon so had to keep his concentration. Aaron Anderson and Danny Charlton were going to be key in the second half as they needed to stretch the defence and after the start that was even more the case with Paget going three at the back.

Dan Russell replaced Adam Reece seven minutes into the second half, a great shift from Reece on the day.

Smithswood came out the second half and continued where they left off. They kept winning their battles and playing the ball around but couldn't get the goal to kill the game off and while Paget Rangers weren't troubling Woodward in goal, they were still in the cup tie as a goal would certainly give them a boost and confidence that they could force the game into extra time.

The defence had been excellent all afternoon so it was a worry when Adam Rooke went down with a hamstring injury with fifteen minutes to go. Carl Thompson replaced him and was immediately in the thick of the action as Paget pushed on for a goal. A scramble in the box ended with Thompson clearing off the line but two minutes later Paget got the goal. It came from Matthias Blake who hit a bullet shot as it fell to him in the area giving Woodward no chance.

The away side started to push on and Woodward had to make a good save down low to keep them out. Smithswood then looked to retain possession and keep the ball away from Paget. Three minutes into injury time the game was over. Curtis Thomas played a one two with Ash Weeks but it was over hit and looked comfortable for the defence to cope with. Thomas chased them down though not giving up and went to cut out a back pass which he probably wasn't expecting would happen as all the defender had to do was turn out and he had acres to move into. Thomas reacted quickly though when the defender essentially passed him the ball and he got a toe on it before the advancing keeper. The ball rolled agonisingly across the goal line but Thomas was the quickest to react as he raced after it to keep it in. Only the keeper seemed to react and as he came to close Thomas down, he passed it to the oncoming Danny Charlton who buried his shot to put Smithswood Firs into the final.

It was a great team performance from Smithswood Firs who deserved the win on the day and a place in the final against Alvis Sporting in May. Ash Weeks was given man of the match just edging it but the whole team were fantastic on the day.

While there was celebrations at the end focus now turns again to the league as the games come thick and fast as Smithswood finish with eight league games in seventeen days starting Wednesday at home to Boldmere Sports & Social.

Featured Match Reports

Are you looking for something ? Search the TeamStats directory...

Team management made easy

Football team organiser? TeamStats is the ultimate football coach app, providing powerful all-in-one software to grassroots football teams around the world.

Learn more
Used around the world by clubs and teams from:
  • The FA Logo - English Football Association
  • Northern Ireland FA Logo
  • Scottish FA logo
  • United States Soccer Logo
  • Welsh FA Logo
  • Eire Football Association Logo
  • Czech Republic Football Association Logo
  • Singapore Football Association Logo
  • Australia FFA logo - Football Federation Australia