Sunday 27 October 2013
Super sub Holmes fires in an 89th minute bonus ball as Village FC go on to win penalty shoot out lottery in FA County Cup first round against Stretford Victoria FC.
Village Manchester FC's first team progressed to the FA County Cup 2nd round thanks to a never say die attitude and a bit of luck that is required in any penalty shoot out in a thrilling encounter. With the scores at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the cup rules sent the tie into a penalty shoot out and Village FC's hero of the day was goalkeeper Jeremy Baker who saved four out of five penalties with Village scoring 3 out of their 4 spot kicks.
The game itself was a terrific contest, with both teams very evenly matched from the beginning. Stretford Vics, who play in the Manchester Amateur Sunday League Premier Division, hosted the game at the unfamiliar Turn Moss ground and with the storms brewing around the UK the game was potentially in doubt but the pitch was in very good condition considering the amount of rain that had fallen.
Both teams looked to stamp their authority on the match with some fine passing and movement but Village started the game with a real intensity to their play and this ensured that space for the opposition was not being given cheaply. This led to the ball being won in the midfield battle more times than not with Sam and Alex having a superb game in the centre of midfield.
The back four looked solid and a confidence to retain possession the back and build patiently was evident again with Steve C and James H at full back looking to move the ball quickly into Tom and Jordan. James Wilson and Jez marshalled the back four well and ensured options to pass the ball out from the back were always available. Despite Village edging it in possession shots on goal that tested the keeper out were in short supply, mainly through a no nonsense approach from the Stretford Vics defense who preferred to kick the ball out of play and get numbers back when pressure built up.
The first shot of real danger came compliments of Jordan who went past two players before cutting inside and unleashing a stinging shot from 25 yards that was well saved from the keeper who pushed it wide for a corner.
At the other end, Stretford found it equally tough to get any shots of meaning through to Jeremy who dealt with most things from distance well. Paul and Paul up front worked hard off the ball to create space but all too often both found themselves being pulled deeper into the game in search of the ball. It was a consequence of playing against a five man midfield but a very hard working Strets team and when Village managed to get the ball into the danger areas, it was often a case of too many defenders and not enough Village players in the box.
With 10 minutes to go in the half, Village's efforts of the first half were starting to tell. A few sloppy passes and lack of concentration through fatigue saw the opposition getting a grip of the game for the first time. Some clever interlinked passing almost broke through the Village defence on two occasions but for some last ditch tackling from the defence and midfield, and Jeremy was on hand to mop up the scraps and get the ball back under control.
Overall the first half was contested closely but Village definitely had the edge with more possession from box to box. This was clearly not going to be a high scoring game and perhaps a mistake or two would be the only way the deadlock would be broken.
Half time 0-0
The half time team talk was all about continuing to work hard and earn the right to play the football Village have shown in recent weeks. Patience and composure was also required against a team we knew nothing about but clearly had the ability to score, especially on the break with a couple of very quick forwards.
With a slight slope now in Village’s favour, the back four started to play a higher line and Village looked to press forward to get the all important breakthrough first goal. Strets seemed to be happy to sit deeper and look to counter with their pace and a real game of chess in the second half began to develop. All too often, the quality that was needed right at the end of a superb passage of play seemed to let Village down. Whether it was a poor first touch, a wayward pass or being dispossessed easily, it added to the frustration of the team who had worked so hard to create the opportunities to score. To their credit, Village stuck at it and continued to play the ball on the deck with some great build up forcing three corners inside the first 20 minutes of the half.
Stretford Victoria were also sensing they could get some joy from a Village team that was beginning to take risks to find that first goal. The first big chance of the second half came when the left winger cut inside and played the ball through for the striker who seemed to go down in a heap in the box. Was it a penalty? The ref didn't think so and waved play on. Further breakaway attacks were dealt with but the threat was always there.
Village made their first change of the game on 65 and 70 minutes with Panos coming on for Tom on the right and Ant replacing Steve C in the full back position. Village continued to push forward but couldn't quite get the opportunity to test the Strets keeper out anywhere near enough. With 15 minutes to play and the scores still at 0-0, Jeremy decided to race out of his goal to get a ball but seemed to misjudge the pace on the ball which allowed the Strets player to get to it first; Jeremy tried to wrestle the ball from the player sending the player sprawling to the ground and the ball clear. The Strets players screamed for a penalty and once again the referee decided to wave play on and the ball was cleared. Definitely too close for comfort! Jason then decided to get Steve Holmes on to the pitch replacing Paul Golds with 15 minutes to go.
With the game seemingly heading towards a penalty shoot out, disaster struck when the wide left player seemingly ghost past Ant on his blind side before cutting across the box. James Wilson spotted the danger as did Jeremy and both ran out to close the ball down. For the third time the Strets player went down in a heap and that was one too many for the ref who pointed straight to the penalty spot. It was a hammer blow and of the three penalty claims this was the weakest but Village had rode their luck on the previous two and had no complaints. The ball was hammered past Jeremy and the Strets players celebrated like they had won the game.
With the County Cup rules stating that rolling subs could be used, the Village manager made an instant change before the restart; Paul Golds returning to play up front and Ant was sacrificed to go three at the back. Village started to push forward with real purpose and for the first time started to commit bodies to the box. Strets defended for their lives and conceded several corners in the final minutes. James Wilson then joined the midfield leaving two on two at the back and playing four players up front in attacking positions.
As the clock ticked down the final few seconds a great run from Panos saw the ball being drilled across the box. Sam got a shot away but superb defending blocked the shot which spilled loosely about 12 yards out. Step forward Steven Holmes who calmly slotted the ball into the net through a crowd of defenders to send the Village players and supporters into celebration and the Strets players to their knees.
Jason made one quick change with penalties on the horizon, bringing the hero of the hour Holmes off and introducing Tom. The referee blew his whistle 30 seconds later for full time and penalties would decide the tie.
Village FC players who stepped forward were Jordan, Goldsie, Jeremy, Tom and James H. Jordan dispatched his penalty and Jeremy superbly saved the Strets first effort. Goldsie, who struck four goals the previous week blasted wide of the post and the Strets Vics player sent Jeremy the wrong way to make it 1 out of 2 for both teams. Jeremy and Tom both dispatched their penalties with ease and with Jeremy saving the Strets third penalty it was all down to the Strets player to score their 4th or it was Village who were going through. Amazingly Jeremy saved his third penalty only for the ref to say it needed to be retaken because he hadn't blown his whistle! No need to worry, Jeremy decided to dive the opposite way on the retake and saved it again! That was four penalties saved and only one missed by Village.
It brought to an end a superb match that was well contested between both teams. Village could be proud of their efforts and the luck that had often been missing in previous seasons was with them when they needed it. A superb team effort and now it's back to league action this weekend against top of the table and current league champions South Manchester.
Full time 1-1 (Village win 3-1 on penalties)