SCOTTER UTD 4 SWINEFLEET FC 3
Swinefleet staged an amazing second half comeback in this Hospital Cup Semi-Final to force the game into extra-time, but were unable to finish the job off in this extra-time period.
Swinefleet had a disastrous first-half performance and went into the half-time break at 3-0 down. They had started the game off well, and were the better side for the first 15 minutes of the match, with Ryan Whitlam down the left flank causing the home lots of problems with his pace.
But on 18 minutes, indecision in the Swinefleet defence led to the Scotter striker having the simplest of tap-ins to score the opening goal. Then on 29 minutes, poor marking by Swinefleet from a Scotter corner saw Cunningham, the Scotter midfielder easily rifle in a shot from just inside the penalty area and into the net. Scotter nearly added another 5 minutes later, but Swinefleet keeper Aaron Lumley tipped the effort over the bar.Then 10 minutes later a shot from Scotter hit the arm of Swinefleet right back Liam Cooper, and a penalty was awarded. The resultant penalty was scored and a despondent Swinefleet side went into the half-time interval 3-0 down.
With the Swinefleet Manager, Rickey Cooper urging his side to have the belief to claw back this deficit, Swinefleet started the second half with more purpose and urgency. The comeback started on 62 minutes with Keir Vause, on as a second half substitute for Regan Allen, swivelling on the ball from a Swinefleet corner, to slot into corner of the net. Two minutes later, Swinefleet captain Danny Nicholson had to leave the field of play with a head injury, to be replaced by Scot Jackson. Swinefleet also had to be careful about being caught out on the counter-attack, and on 66 minutes were nearly made to pay when a thunderous shot hit the Swinefleet cross-bar. Three minutes later a great run from Niall Barker beating 3 players and then unleashing a left foot strike looked like it was sailing into the net, but smacked against the Scotter post and rebounded away from the incoming C. Vause. With only 20 minutes left, Swinefleet changed tactics and elected to play 3-4-3, with centre-half Will Sparkes coming off and Dale Noon going on up front.
With Swinefleet now pushing for that second goal, the ball was swung in from the right flank by Whitlam and a far-post header from Aaron Raymond hit the back of the Scotter net on 79 minutes. Swinefleet were now camped in Scotter’s half, and a good run and shot from Cohen Vause on 83 minutes was turned away by the Scotter keeper. With the game now entering the 3rd minute of stoppage time, Swinefleet were awarded a free-kick on the left flank 25 yards out. Left-back Gareth Welsh floated the ball deep into the Scotter penalty area, the ball was knocked back across the goal by Archie Stephens at the back post, and Ryan Whitlam hooked the ball into the Scotter net to equalise with just 30 seconds of stoppage time left. What a comeback from being 3-0 down!
In the extra-time period, you would have put Swinefleet as the strong favourites to go through. Indeed, they had the majority of the possession. In the first period, Swinefleet had a shout for a penalty turned down after K. Vause appeared to have been pushed at the far-post, and Archie Stephens headed effort trickled just wide of the far post.
As the game moved into the final period of extra-time, Cohen Vause beat his man down the right and played the ball across the Scotter goal for the incoming Keir Vause, but the outstretched leg of the younger brother was just unable to make the slightest of contacts necessary to score. With just 8 minutes left, Scotter were correctly awarded a penalty, but the Scotter player lost his nerve and blazed the ball over the bar. On 116 minutes, Swinefleet responded with C. Vause racing clear to put the ball into the Scotter net, but the Referee was well-placed to rule his run offside. Then with just 2 minutes way from the penalty shoot-out, a long ball into the Swinefleet penalty area dropped kindly to Scotter’s Armstrong to fire in the winner. Despite heavy appeals from the Swinefleet players for offside, the goal correctly stood, with the appeals being more in desperation than in legitimacy.
As always there is late, late, late, late drama with Swinefleet matches and this one was no exception. But, the Swinefleet players can be proud of their second half and extra-time achievements, as it showed great guts and character to come back from 3—0 down after 61 minutes played.
This week’s Man of the Match Award sponsored by ex-Swinefleet keeper Dave Brooks, went to Archie Stephens for the second week running.
Next week Swinefleet play a tough League fixture at home V old rivals Epworth Town. All players to meet at South park for 2.00pm.