28th September 2019

Bluefin Sports Supplementary Cup – First Round

Virginia Water FC (1) Brackley Town Saints (1) – VWFC win 4-1 on penalties 

SAINTS: Jacucha (Crowther 55), Gabbidon, Middleton (L), Brock (Ball 72), Goddard, Hartley, Stott, Hammond (J), Knight, Hammond (M) (Goddard 80), Kille 

Subs not used: Middleton (D), Dowse 

Never a dull moment with Saints, who bowed out of the Supplementary Cup after losing an intriguing tie on penalties. After a goalfest on Wednesday night Saints were hoping to carry that momentum forward into this match to provide further confidence for an important run of matches to follow. 

The Waters were licking their wounds after a heavy 4-0 defeat to Reading City on Tuesday. 

Saints were very slow out of the traps and early misplaced passes were to signal a very poor first half where Saints were lethargic, sloppy and although they tried to pass the ball they were playing very deep and as a result the misplaced passes and fancy flicks gave away possession in dangerous areas. Without wishing to provide excuses Waters were also struggling to retain possession on a bumpy pitch where the grass seemed a little on the long side. 

Saints had the first shot in anger on 18 minutes when James Hammond floated an accurate pass into the path of Ryan Knight whose first time shot flew just wide of the post and on 23 minutes Matt Hammond pressured the Waters centre half and stole the ball but his pass to Knight was delayed by the bounce of the ball which gave the defender time to block Knight’s shot.

 But the Waters sensed that Saints were struggling and had a very strong end to the first half. On 25 minutes Sam Hartley had to make an important last minute interception when he diverted a dangerous cross over his own crossbar. 

But within a minute the Waters took the lead when Jack Simmins rose unchallenged in the six yard box to head in Finn Evered’s long throw, a weapon that was to provide Saints with difficulty for the whole game. 

That the Waters did not extend their lead before half time was due to some good defending and wasted opportunities. As the half time whistle blew it felt as though Saints had a chance as they were bound to be better in the second half, weren’t they? 

But on 54 minutes Saints were reduced to 10 men when Piotr Jacucha was shown a straight red card for taking out the Waters centre forward as he bore down on goal. Red seemed harsh and perhaps the challenge was not required as Hartley seemed to be recovering his ground anyway. 

Matt Crowther replaced Jacucha and made a good save from the resulting free kick. 

Then, as if by magic and, as so often happens the team with 10 men started to play. There seemed to be more space in midfield and Saints were retaining possession. On 62 minutes Alex Stott set Ryan Knight free into the left side of the penalty box and his shot across Matt Jones seemed destined for the far corner but Jones stretched and just grasped the ball with his fingers. Crowther was lively in the Saints goal and needed to make a good block and was proactive in coming to challenge for Evered’s long throws. 

On 75 minutes Saints equalised when following a sustained spell of pressure they won a corner on the right. Knight swung in a vicious left foot cross and Matt Hammond rose to powerfully head past Jones. 

The final 15 minutes saw Saints lose Harry Brock and Matt Hammond to injuries and it was good to see Jordan Godfrey back on the pitch after his own absence with injury. The final 5 minutes were frantic with Waters missing a glorious chance with a mistimed shot in the six yard box. Saints then won a free kick just outside the penalty area which Stott curled just over the bar.

 The final whistle meant penalties would decide the tie and Saints were probably pleased that there was not extra time as they were down to the bare bones with Charlie Kille picking up a knock in the final minutes. 

In the penalty shoot-out the Waters went first, and successfully converted their first 3 penalties. In between Jones in the Waters goal saved the first 2 Saints kicks by Knight and Stott, but George Ball stroked Saints third kick past Jones to leave the Waters needing to score one of their remaining kicks. They scored the first one to win the shoot-out 4-1. 

Overall a disappointing defeat and one of those days where Saints were not at their best. It does not get any easier with Saints visiting league leaders Westfields FC next Saturday. Some good news in that in addition to the return to fitness of Godfrey both Lewis Baldwin and James Watts have returned to light training on their journeys back from injury.