Sunday 6 October 2013
Village Manchester took a strong squad comprising players from both the club's two teams on the journey north to their GFSN Cup match against Newcastle Panthers. Most players were also hangover free - with the exceptions of Hall and Clayton who as the voices of authority and experience had taken up the job of 'assessing' Newcastle's nightlife in case we won the tie, and Mullender, who had selflessly volunteered to drive them.
The match kicked off with Village setting a lively tempo and soon calling the opposition keeper into action. A corner was soon conceded with Holmes rising at the near post before the defence had time to react. Village assumed an early lead and set the tone for the whole half.
The next effort was almost a carbon copy of the first, however this time it was Newcastle's own unfortunate defender who rose and was unable to react quickly to Edward's perfectly aimed throw deflecting exactly as intended into the top of his own net.
Next up with Clayton enjoying his reinvention as Hall's answer to Philippe Countinho, beautifully engineering the space for him to get a low shot off which the keeper should have done better with. However all he could do was parry the ball clumsily and watch it carry through behind him to extend the lead to three.
With Papademetriou continuing to show some real class on the right it was inevitable that, that was where the next goal would come from. Having turned his man inside out, he burst into the box striking the post. Langford drew a save from the keeper on the rebound but Edwards was on hand to bundle the goal Connell-esque into the net.
Village continued to surge forward in waves with the back four proving resolute and Hardern particularly gobbling up anything that came his way like a Nandos covered in protein shake. The centre's positional discipline and tackling from Mullender belying the 7am finish from the previous night, freed up Langford this time to go round his man, drive into the box and slot home into the bottom corner.
After an iffy offside call, Village's sixth came after from Holmes threading/barging his way through the Newcastle defence and just as the keeper looked like he had done enough, Holmes powered the ball through him and scored his second of the tie. There was time for Langford to add a seventh, showing good technique to strike a long ball on the balance, and then the half time whistle went.
Half time: 0-7
The message at half time was to remain solid and that we had seen how the conditions could put the defence under pressure. Whilst a clear lead had been established the message was clear, maintaining focus and making sure no early goals were conceded that might encourage the opposition.
As expected Newcastle upped their challenge but Village were more than equal to the task with Jones adding a fabulous eighth, curling an elegant finish into the top corner of the goal in the square foot the keeper just couldn't cover.
Chances came for both teams with Newcastle managing to carve out several half chances and drawing a great save from Jeremy diving low to turn it round his far post. Eventually however he was undone by a long bouncing ball which carried past McPherson and Hardern who had comfortably dealt with punts over the top until that point and the opposing striker duly ran on having only to connect with it to knock it past Baker.
It was to be only a consolation though and Village left Newcastle having booked their place in the quarter finals in style and looked forward to a return trip at the end of November.
Full time: 1-8 win
The club will face Leicester Wildcats in the quarter finals, again in Newcastle, on Saturday 30 November.