EPWORTH TOWN 4 SWINEFLEET FC 0
The Cup holders Swinefleet exited this year’s Centurion Cup at the Quarter- Final stage with a score-line not giving a true reflection of the match. Epworth adopted a strong physical approach to the game with 4 of their players receiving yellow cards in comparison with the two for Swinefleet, but on the balance of the game, still probably deserved to go through into the semi-finals.
Swinefleet made a bright start to the match and were awarded a penalty as early as the 5th minute with an Epworth defender knocking the ball away with his hand from the foot of Swinefleet’s Niall Barker. The spot kick taken by Aaron Raymond was well saved by the Epworth keeper diving down to his left. Four minutes later the action was at the other end, with a tremendous double save from Jamie Ward required to deny the Epworth attack. Six minutes later, a jinky run down the left by Cohen Vause nearly paid dividends for the Cup holders, but his left foot shot struck the side netting. On 19 minutes, Danny Nicholson and Aaron Raymond combined in midfield for Nicholson to sweep the ball onto the left flank for Vause. The player cut in from the left, beat 2 Epworth defenders and was unlucky to see his powerful right foot shot come back off the far post, the keeper well beaten.
With 3 Epworth players already receiving yellows in the first 22 minutes, their strong approach started to cause Swinefleet some problems, and the visitors had some desperate defending to do. The inswinging corners of former Hull City player Leigh Jenkinson caused problems for Swinefleet throughout the match, as did the pace and movement of the Epworth front two. There were some great defending at times from the Swinefleet defence, particularly with the headers won by Will Sparkes at centre-back and the strong and tenacious performance from Liam Cooper at right back, with fellow defenders centre-back Archie Stephens and left-back, Gareth Welsh putting performances that were not far behind. With the pressure mounting more and more on Swinefleet’s back four, Epworth were given a penalty on 26 minutes, after a challenge from Swinefleet centre-back Archie Stephens. This was duly converted. Swinefleet’s reply was to go straight back to the other end with Regan Allen playing the ball through for Niall Barker to run onto and chip the keeper. But unfortunately his chip over the keeper just clipped the top of the Epworth crossbar and rebounded to safety. Disaster struck again for Swinefleet on 33 minutes when the dependable Scot Jackson handled in the penalty area, receiving a yellow card into the bargain. A strong hand from Ward was unable to prevent the kick from going in, and the home side now had a two goal advantage at half-time.
Swinefleet made a half-time substitution with the attacking flair of Ryan Whitlam brought on for Jackson, to try and turn the result around, and 15 minute later brought on Keir Vause up front to partner C. Vause, with Barker dropping into right midfield, to replace Allen. Despite making these changes, Epworth continued to enjoy better possession of the ball for the majority of the first 20 minutes of this half, and their possession counted when they bundled the ball over the line from a corner to give them a 3-0 lead. After this goal, Swinefleet regained the upper hand and made a valiant attempt to get back into the match but even goal-scoring legend Dale Noon was unable to find a way through a determined Epworth defence. A stretched Swinefleet defence were caught out with Epworth adding the fourth 11 minutes from time.
With Swinefleet being outdone by 2 penalties and a corner-kick, this was a disappointing way to bow out of this Cup. Credit however must go to referee Chris Burnham for an excellent game in a highly charged and feisty, with all his 3 penalty decisions totally correct. Swinefleet’s Man of the Match went to Liam Cooper.
Next week Swinefleet are at home V Hensall in the Goole & Thorne Cup Quarter Final. All players to meet at South Park at 12.00pm, as it is an early kick-off.