Another semi-final date today against MSC Eastham at home and another opportunity to get into a final.
Decent weather conditions but on a pitch which has been severely destroyed it looked like the pitch had a bad case of mumps the amount of bobbles all over, today was going to be a battle and a battle we had to win.
The game started and it was clear from the off that MSC Eastham were up for the fight today playing with a front 3 they wanted it and we had to be right up for it and in truth we were. Inside the first 15/20 minutes we were tested at the back as 3 powerful and Pacey forwards caused us issues it was only when a change in formation did we start to assert our authority, Curran moving back alongside Ryan Smith to give our backline some much needed protection and support.
Inside those 20 minutes we had our chances with Phillips starting again after his superb performance last week missing a number of decent opportunities and their keeper pulling off some brave saves, but we was also tested as the backline of Yates, Easterbrook and Machin had to be on their toes and alert as they got overrun time and time again, all 3 were brilliant today none more so than Easterbrook who won header after header and tackle after tackle.
The first goal came after great work by Tom Briggs and Kevin Machin which released Sean Phillips who squared to Adam Coulls who slotted a great finish past there keeper 1-0. This should have settled our nerves but with the pitch not helping our game we had to dig in and fight something even myself got stupidly dragged into and near the end of the half Tom Briggs ….but more on that later.
Still on a bad pitch we tried to play which was hugely encouraging, Coulls showed his full repertoire of long range passing as did Ryan Smith and Curran then produced a great ball which released Sean Phillips one on one but the keeper came off his line well gave Sean a difficult angle and the chance went begging.
We also had to show our fighting spirit and Curran who seconds earlier was on the end of a nasty challenge got up dusted himself off and then went into a thunderous challenge which like in recent weeks had the supporters cheering, Booie spurred on by this also got in on the act by winning a superb tackle right on the edge of our area, Ryan Smith not to be outdone then won a superb 50/50 which resulted in a break away on goal but Briggs spurned the opportunity.
More chances then went begging as Coulls, Briggs, Thomas and Phillips all missed chances which could have put the game to bed, Philly Lennon who was working hard tracking back had a run at the full back and pulled a great ball back inside the box towards Phillip’s who looked destined to score but once again the chance went begging as he took it around the keeper only for it to agonizingly go across the face of goal and evade Jim bob at the back post.
Then the game lit up for the wrong reasons with Briggs battling for possession near there edge of the box he became tangled with their full back and Briggs tried to do a Nate Diaz and chock him out but he found himself tapping out on the floor once the full back had reversed him, both players luckily escaping any serious repercussion’s…. only a yellow for their misdemeanour’s.
Seconds after that MSC Eastham scored when we was all at sea from back to front we switched off and a through ball was gleefully met by their striker who finished past an otherwise redundant Jason McLaughlin in goal 1-1.
Cue for some silly, silly reason arguing within the team, why we do this baffles me we are bound to make mistakes in games we are not professional’s, the right way to respond is to get our heads back on the game and put it right.
To be fair Within 5 minutes we did, a tremendous Philly Lennon ball over the top was met By the ever pestering James Thomas and he subtly lobbed the advancing keeper with his left foot for an exquisite goal to put us back in front 2-1, with 2 minutes of the half left it was exactly what we wanted and deserved.
The second half couldn’t have started any better an astute James Thomas pass found Sean Phillips through on goal and he neatly slotted in the bottom corner to send our supporters wild 3-1.
We settled into the game now and was playing more confidently but still with their 3 forwards acting a menace all game Yates ,Machin and the hugely impressive Matthew Easterbrook had to be alert for the duration.
Chances still went begging as Coulls missed with a difficult chance and Curran had the keeper palming over after a shot from the edge, a neat turn and flick from Curran released Lennon who advanced into the area only to see his effort turned wide.
Ryan Smith who was controlling the game more and more started to ping balls around the field and this was creating more space for us and it was after a move started by Smith that found Briggs in the area and his clever flick which found Thomas free to rifle in with his right foot to send us further ahead 4-1.
Cue Substitution’s Matty Smith came on in place of Sean Phillips and Michael edge came on in place of Tom Briggs, Skipper Matty Smith was straight into the thick of things as he harassed and broke free only to see his effort well saved.
With 20 minutes remaining off came Curran after another industrious performance in his place Dave Leslie came on to kill the game and secure the win, Another great piece of play from Ryan Smith found Matty Smith down the left channel, he fed the rampaging Machin who fired an inch perfect cross into the box which was met by the Head of James “JimBob” Thomas who fired in his perfect Hat-Trick 5-1.
A superb performance from the tireless Jimbob who was then replaced for the last 18 odd minutes by the returning Michael Neish who has been on a sabbatical for the past month or so, still supporting the boys while he was as well.
And it was the big dogg Neish who played a part in the sixth goal as his cleverly attempted flick towards goal minutes after firing high and wide, well it wouldn’t be the real Neish if he didn’t attempt to lose the ball, found its way across to Matty Smith and with a point to prove and after an energetic 25 odd minutes he slotted in well under the keeper to seal the game. 6-1.
Croker came on for the final 10 minutes in place of the ever hardworking Philly Lennon to run the clock down and the game filtered out until in the last few minutes Matthew Easterbrook after one too many superb tackles landed heavily on his hip and as usual he cried a bit and asked to come off! ……TBF I advised him the game was won and no need to carry on seconds later the ref blew and the Mighty Dell find themselves into a second final in our debut season … a terrific achievement in itself but the job is far from done we now need to finish it off and bring the trophies home!!!
Plenty of good performances today against a team who was fighting for their lives and one who gave us some problems at times today and tested us, Keeper Jason to be honest was largely untested apart from a few routine saves but what he had to do he did as always extremely well, in front of him the back 3 where immense and played a big, big part in us winning, Sam Yates was as solid as ever and Kevin Machin once again doing us a job on the left side was terrific… solid all match, in the middle the gaffer Matthew Easterbrook had I feel his best game of the season he was everywhere and seemed to revel in the pressure he was being put under.
The wingers Briggs and Lennon as they have been this season gave us width and pace causing plenty of problems for MSC Eastham and today had their work cut out tracking back probably too much for their liking but they did it brilliantly.
In the middle Ryan Smith controlled the game dictating play and formed a tasty looking partnership with young Danny Curran who seems to get better and better each game and more than stood up to the physical nature of his opponents, these 2 allowed Adam Coulls to cause havoc further up field with his intelligent running and through balls and he deservedly got on the score sheet once again.
Up top James Thomas was sensational scoring a perfect hat-trick and never stopped until he was hooked towards the end his partner today Sean Phillips carried on where he left off last week with another industrious performance.
It’s difficult being on the bench but today the subs attitude was spot on, and all came on and more than played their part none more so than Matty Smith who looked like he wanted to prove a point, Neish,Edge, Leslie all did well under difficult circumstance and even Danny Croker came on and gave his all.
All in all a great result and performance, M.O.M was tough today but listening to the opinions of others I don’t normally pick it but today decided to take it out of the gaffers hands and handed it to Matthew Easterbrook who was immense all match, James Thomas was a close second and I mean close his Hat-Trick was sensational but without the form of Easterbrook and his fellow defenders the result could have been different they gave the likes of Jimbob the platform to destroy MSC Eastham.
Roll on the final!!