SWINEFLEET FC 1 SUTTON ROVERS 1 ( After Extra-Time)
(Swinefleet Won 6-5 on penalties)
This first round Goole & Thorne Cup tie pitched two good footballing teams against each other, in a thoroughly entertaining match, worthy of the Final itself.
There was very little to choose between the teams with Swinefleet the better team in the first half, Sutton the better in the second half, with the same scenario played out in the extra-time period.
Swinefleet were quickly out of the traps and dominated for long periods of the first half. The back four of Liam Cooper, Roy Stephens, Will Sparkes and Gareth Welsh played well defensively and were able to play the ball out from the back, particularly with Welsh at left back linking up with Ryan Whitlam down the left flank. This combination down the left was a constant thorn for the Sutton defence and with the passing ability of Aaron Raymond in central midfield and the hard work and industry of fellow midfielders Danny Nicholson and Regan Allen, the home side enjoyed plenty of possession.
A raking pass from Raymond on 17 minutes saw a Niall Barker header just flash wide of the Sutton post and a goal-line clearance from corner by a Sutton defender denied Swinefleet centre-half Will Sparkes an opener on 22 minutes. A diving header from the Sutton number 6 denied Cohen Vause a certain goal on 27 minutes and then fellow strike partner Barker experienced the same fate when his 32nd effort was spectacularly headed off the line, again by the same Sutton defender. Swinefleet finally made the breakthrough on 37 minutes when a Regan Allen cross was met by a firm far-post header from Vause, to wrong foot the ex-Buxton Utd keeper. The lead did not last long as with only 2 minutes of the first half remaining, Sutton equalised with a powerful strike from just outside the penalty area.
Second half saw the tempo being raised by the reigning Doncaster Premier League and Goole & Thorne Cup holders, as Swinefleet were no longer able to dictate the game as they had in the first period. The match became a lot more open in the second half, but little in the way of even half chances being created by either side. Swinefleet tried to freshen it up a little in the last 25 minutes with Dale Noon coming on up front for Allen, with Barker dropping back into midfield, and Sam Nicholls on in centre-midfield for captain Danny Nicholson. Neither side could find a way through so the game went into extra-time.
First period of extra-time belonged to Swinefleet, Vause shot on 99 minutes finding the side netting and a shot from Noon on 103 minutes went just over the bar. Second period of extra-time was all Sutton. A goal-line clearance from Welsh was required on 109 minutes and Swinefleet keeper Jamie Ward produced two excellent saves on 114and 118 minutes, to keep Swinefleet in the tie.
Penalties came with conversions coming from Whitlam, Barker, Nicholls and Welsh, with Raymond missing his spot kick on the second penalty. Sutton also missed one of theirs, so the scores were level at 4-4. The game then went to sudden death penalties. Sutton scored first and Vause replied to equalise. Sutton’s next penalty was brilliantly saved by keeper Ward diving to his right. All it needed to send Swinefleet through was a cool, experienced head. Who better than Swinefleet’s all time top goal scorer, Dale Noon. He did not disappoint. His side foot into the bottom corner created jubilant scenes for the rest of the Swinefleet players and their supporters.
The John Terry Sponsored Man of the Match award went Aaron Raymond, for his excellent midfield performance. Next week, Swinefleet are at home V Briggensians in the Challenge Cup. All players to meet at Park at 1.30pm.