The UNITS returned to Brown Westhead, grass cut I'm pleased to report, to welcome Division 2 pace setters Stourbridge Athletic in the first round of the Hospital Cup. Again Cuzer found himself with quite a few missing due to injury, stag do's and the like and mustered 15 as we lined up. Tom, DJ, Gilo, Millette, Taylor, Azza, Ashton, Baker, Greavesy, Trigger and Pountney. Subs were Newts, Acer, Kie Watters and Seeks.
The UNITS got off to a flying start for the 2nd home game running as we took the lead inside 90 seconds, Azza did well down the left and crossed for Pountney who side footed goal wards from 7 yards out only for the SA keeper to palm away at full stretch, Greavesy picked up the loose ball and beat his man with a neat bit of skill only to be hacked to the floor, blatant penalty which Azza took with aplomb to put the UNITS one to the good. Within 5 minutes we could have had a couple more as we took the game to SA, Ashton went close then Pountney forced the keeper into a smart save before Azza crossed for the Greavesy who air kicked from 6 yards with the goal gaping. We were in control of the game yet SA got back on level terms with their first attack of note on 10 minutes, Baker and Ashton lost a couple of 50/50's in the middle of the park and the ball was fed into their forward who laid the ball off for the runner to smash the ball into the top corner from 30 yards giving Tom no chance, hats off, great strike 1-1.
It was all a little too comfortable for the UNITS prior to the goal and it was a wakeup call as the game was now a real contest, SA were buzzing and moving the ball around well, especially dangerous on the counter however the UNITS were having the better chances. Azza forced the keeper to save with his legs from 18 yards out before Ashton dragged a shot wide from a good position. On 25 minutes we did get back in front when after a spell of UNITS pressure and some pinball in the SA box the ball was half cleared to Greavesy 25 yards out who curled a low shot past the visiting keeper with the aid of a slight deflection to put the UNITS back in the ascendency. Alas 5 minutes later we shot ourselves in the foot when Tayl's dwelt on the ball 30 yards out, got robbed by the SA forward who raced clear and slotted past Tom to level things up at 2-2.
HT UNITS 2 v Stourbridge Athletic 2
Cuzer asked the lads to play with a bit more composure and to keep focus as we were creating plenty of chances but sloppiness at times was costing us in both boxes. We started the 2nd half well and comfortably on top, Greavesy again was inches away from a low cross with the goal gaping. We then forced three quick corners but failed to test the impressive visiting keeper. On 55 minutes the 2nd half pressure paid off when form a half cleared corner Taylor did well to beat his man cross low for Pountney to finish into the bottom corner from 8 yards to put the UNITS back in front. On the hour mark Cuzer introduced Seeks and for the first time this season Kieran Watters who returned from a bad ankle injury picked up pre-season, Greavesy and Trigger making way.
We were playing better in the 2nd half but SA were always dangerous, we needed the 4th goal to settle us down but despite being on top it wouldn't come, Pountney forcing the keeper into another fine save and Ashton having a goal bound shot hacked away with the keeper beaten as we kept knocking at the door. On 70 minutes we strung together our best move of the match and ironically found ourselves conceding an equaliser, after some slick one touch football down our left Pountney whipped in a delightful cross which Azza glanced with head goal wards again the keeper making a smart save. In an instant he launched a quick kick downfield and Tayl's barged their striker in the back to concede a free kick. SA sent everybody forward and from the ball into the box their lad got a yard on Paul and with Tom hesitating in goal he stuck out his leg to divert the ball into the unguarded net 3-3. Another soft goal to concede and despite a host of chances it was game on again, we kept plugging away DJ cutting inside and having a low shot blocked, Seeks forcing the keeper into a good save at his near post and Kie Watters getting away only to be denied by a last ditch challenge 20 yards out.
Disaster struck for the UNITS with 5 minutes to go when Millette played the ball back to Tom who scuffed his kick straight to the SA player who raced into the box unchallenged and slotted the ball into the back of the net to give SA the lead for the first time. With only 5 minutes remaining time was really against the UNITS and it looked for all the money like we had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Credit to the lads though we showed great character and kept going, piling men forward at will and deep into injury time with SA guilty of defending way too deep a ball into the box fell to Taylor back to goal who laid the ball off for our left back Gilo to finish right footed into the bottom corner from 10 yards to send the UNITS camp into raptures as we levelled things up with almost the last kick.
90 Minutes UNITS 4 v 4 SA
Into extra time we went and the UNITS thankful of the chance to put things right went on the attack from the off, Ashton was moved out wide and within 2 minutes he had missed a couple of gilt edge chances to put us ahead, dragging a shot wide from 10 yards after some good interchange with Pountney and then he sliced a right footer wide from another good position. However 8 minutes into extra time we took the lead again when Pountney did well down the left, crossed low for Seeks who stole a yard on his marker to side foot home from 10 yards out giving the keeper no chance. Newt's them came on for Baker in a like for like swap
SA to their credit kept plugging away, Tom was forced to parry a long shot away and dropped on a low 20 yard shot at his near post. We really should and could have added more to kill the game off, in the 2nd half of extra time their keeper made a worldie of a save off Newt's, even managing to hold his close range effort from 6 yards out, Azza, Pountney and Seeks all went close for us as we saw out the remaining minutes to record a hard fought but ultimately deserved 5-4 win.
As a team it was not the best day at the office defensively however we created enough chances to win two games but must be more clinical in both boxes as tougher challenges await Credit to SA as well, a good side who play good football and gave us a real run for our money, we wish them all the best in their pursuit of the Div 2 title.
Man of the match went to Pountney who was involved in most of our best moves going forward and worked hard for the team all game.
No game next week before we take on Malvern Victoria in the 2nd round of the WFA Junior Cup at home.