The UNITS kicked off their midweek league games with a tough trip to title challengers Dudley Sports. As is the way with midweeks we lost 3-4 regulars for various reasons however we utilised the squad to make 15 available as we lined up: Tom, DJ, Taylor, Ryan, Gilo, Baker, Newt, Ashton, Lewis, Jay and Hunter. Bench was Chilla, Jim, Trigger and Greavesy.
The UNITS started the game well and were quickly on the front foot playing all the football on what was a shocker of a pitch. We seemed to be finding space in all the right areas and DS struggled to get anything going as we were camped in their half for the opening 15 minutes. Pountney was played in by Hunter yet a fine saving challenge from the centre half stopped a clear goal scoring opportunity then Ashton snatched at a clear chance from 20 yards out when he should have done better. Jay then over ran a through ball when clean in on goal. DS's first and best chance in fairness was a clear one when we were guilty of overplaying as Baker was robbed, DS broke quick and their midfielder broke away to find himself clear yet Tom made a great one on one save and held the ball.
The game was now more even and DS had another good chance on 30 minutes when Ryan was robbed and they found themselves with a man over, he picked up the cross and shot against the bar from 18 yards. The UNITS were still seeing plenty of the ball but our final ball was badly rushed, no one guiltier than Ashton who found himself in some great positions but we constantly played the final ball way too quickly and allowed DS to clear. The half time whistle came with DS finishing the better side after we had bossed the early exchanged.
HT DS 0 v 0 TS UNITS
The lads knew it was going to be a battle and Cuzer didn't need to remind then we had to stand up to what DS were throwing at us and dig in for the duration. Now kicking down the slope DS fancied their chances and they're good at what they do which is putting the ball on you at every opportunity, often going high and early front to back but Taylor and Ryan were dealing with the majority and Baker and Newt were snaffling up the second balls. We started to get the ball down again and create some half chances, Ashton shot over from 25 yards and Jay fizzed a ball across the 6 yard box and we couldn't force the ball home. On the hour mark Tom made a great save from a knock down from another DS free kick into the box however their striker was offside as the flag went up. On 60 minutes Chilla replaced Ashton with Jay moving into the hole. The game remained a battle but DS were having the best of it and Tom was forced into another smart save from a quick DS breakaway. Greavesy then replaced Jay on 70 minutes.
The UNITS then had a 5 minute spell where we went close 3 times before taking the lead, Chilla was doing well down the right and one cross picked out Newt who had a 15 yard shot bravely blocked by the defender, then Chilla again whipped in a great ball which found its way to Lewis who put the ball back in and the centre half on the stretch was inches away from putting the ball in his own net. However, from the resulting corner Pountney went to the back post and Taylor was on hand to force the ball over the line from close range after his initial attempt was scrambled off the line.
However the UNITS couldn't hang on to the lead and on 80 minutes DS drew level, their wide played ran with the ball across the pitch before riding a couple of tame challenges yet as he came into the box he was fortunate a couple of challenges bobbled back to him, then the ball hit the grounded Taylor on the back yet he still managed to poke it home from 6 yards out to send the home side ecstatic. Jim then replaced Baker who was injured in the build up to their goal as we used our final sub The last 10 minutes were a tense affair, Taylor and DJ both making great blocks from Dudley attempts on goal and the DS left back making a great challenge on Chilla as he was released one on one via Greavesy/
So a point a piece in the end, we did well to stand up to the aerial bombardment that Dudley put on you and credit to the players who made themselves available as we picked up another point in our quest for the title.
Man of the Match went to Tom who commanded his box well and made 2-3 great saves when DS had clear opportunities.
Next up we take on DS again in the QF of the Hospital Cup.