SOUTHERN COUNTIES CUP SEMI-FINAL
AMATEUR FA v THE ARMY
WEDNESDAY 6th FEBRUARY 2019
UXBRIDGE FC KO 19.45
RESULT 3-3 Army win 4-1 on penalties
HEROIC AFA FIGHT BACK TO NO AVAIL
On a very wet evening the AFA & Army provided an excellent game of football on a pitch which held up very well to the inclement weather. There was a high level of skill displayed by both sides in a very competitive match played in difficult conditions and well managed by the 3 officials.
The match began with a period of end to end play as both sides tested their opposing defences but, after 10 minutes the Army began to get the upper hand. They came close on a couple of occasions only to be thwarted by a scrambled clearance and a weak shot easily gathered by Ben Lancaster in the AFA goal.
However, after 16 minutes, the Army were rewarded when a superb through ball was slotted into the inside left channel which their centre forward moved onto and hit a left foot shot across Lancaster into the far corner of the net to put them ahead.
They continued to dominate, particularly in midfield where they seemed to have time and space to pick excellent passes. Indeed, but for 2 good saves by Lancaster the Army lead would have increased. The tide could only be held back for so long but it was disappointing that it was a free header from a corner that did this in the 25th minute.
The AFA did keep trying to get forward but, too often, the attacks broke down due to a poor final ball or resolute Army tackling. Another fine save from Lancaster kept the score down before the break.
At the start of the second half the AFA introduced all 3 substitutes and changed their tactics to play with 3 at the back and 5 in midfield to inhibit the Army's first half strength. This proved to be a managerial master stroke, although not immediately, as 3 minutes after the restart another incisive Army pass inside the full back led to a cross which Kofi Gay inadvertently deflected into the net when sliding in to attempt to clear.
It is to their credit that the AFA players did not let their heads drop and continued to strive to get back into the game. Ahmed Dhouki was causing a lot of problems down the AFA right flank and our midfield started to take control. You could sense that the tide was turning and the AFA had 3 chances within 3 minutes with a header from a corner just over, a long range shot from Darren Tinnelly which was wide and then good work from Dan Barber & Peter Eguae resulting in a cross which was miskicked in front of goal.
The AFA pressure continued and more good work from Dhouki was twice foiled by the Army keeper. Then on 64 minutes a long ball from Conor Mitchell was well controlled by Dhouki in the Army penalty area. His lob was parried by the keeper but Tinnelly was on hand to touch the loose ball over the line.
Their tails were up and the AFA were dominant. Just 3 minutes later another long pass found Dhouki on the right and he slid a pass into the penalty area where it was well controlled by Owen Bradley and he drove the ball across the keeper into the far corner of the net.
Then came 2 minutes which determined the result. An Army attack led to a cross to their substitute centre forward but his free header went wide. In the 74th minute the AFA won a corner and, as the cross came in, Gay was pulled to the floor for a clear penalty. This was taken by Eguae with a well struck shot into his bottom left corner to level the score.
This galvanised the Army and the game became more even again with both sides creating chances with the AFA hitting the post and the Army having a goal rightly disallowed for offside. Other chances were thwarted by last ditch tackles or scrambled defences as the tension grew and the noise on both benches got louder.
However neither team could get the winner and, in accord with the competition rules, we moved straight to penalties.
The Army led 2-1 after the first 3 penalties but the AFA missed their next 2 which the Army did not to go through to the final against Jersey.
It was a disappointing end to a great evenings football and a very spirited effort from the AFA in coming back from a 3 goal deficit to go so close against a strong Army side. Well done to you all and commiserations.
Ben Lancaster (Nottsborough); Scott Ensor (Actonians), Kofi Gay (Actonians) Richard Parker (Nottsborough), Conor Mitchell (Old Foresters); Paul Bogle-Fearon (Alleyn Old Boys), Darren Tinnelly (Polytechnic), Owen Bradley (Alleyn Old Boys); Ryan Bright (Old Meadonians), James Essex (Old Wykamist), Dan Barber (Nottsborough).
Substitutes: Peter Eguae (Actonians), Luke Redman (Civil Service), Ahmed Dhouki (Actonians).
Bob Leeds (Manager), Pat Folan (Coach)
Referee - Mr. D. David
Assistant Referees - Mr. L. Giles & Mr. D. Coe