Last 16 of the Cup and Finch were once again pittted against a team from a higher Division. This time two Divisions above – a difficult game was expected by players, coaching staff and the long suffering fans!
However, negative thoughts were in short supply early on as Finch set about their play with some sold passing throughout the team with Whiteknights struggling to get a hold of the ball. Some great play saw Jake M released on the left although he decided to slow down play and wait for support and any chance was gone. Nifty play as ever from Bunny and Sam F and an increasingly dominant Adam through midfield started to give the team real belief that a cup upset was on the cards. Our resident speed demon Nathaniel was away on the right and a certain coach could be heard demanding “side step” when approaching goal but no goal this time as the Whiteknights keeper parried. However, moments later some outstanding play from Lucas S at left back saw him win the ball and drive up to the centre of the park before passing squarely to Jake M who accurately delivered a fast all out to Nathaniel who applied the after burners. This time the decision making was spot on as with some great trickery he took the left back on, drove to the byeline and played an inch perfect pass to an unmarked Sam F who blasted the ball high into the net form the 6 yard box. 1-0 to Finch and thoroughly deserved.
The half went on in the same manner with each player showing great commitment. However, Whiteknights were able to play a good ball through to their centre forward who ran into the box only for big Sam T to try what is now commonly known as a “Wan Bassaka”. Sadly, his timing wasn’t quite at the level of the Man Utd spider and the forward rather than the ball was clattered. Penalty to Whiteknights.
Up stepped the Whiteknights player who decided to smash the ball, cannoning off the left hand post and back into play. Linesman flag is up just before a melee in the box and the ball is in the back of the net. Good job this linesman knows that the striker cannot play the ball a second time in a penalty situation unless someone else has played the ball!
The half continues, with Whiteknights coming into the game and the ever dependable Luke saving Finch on a couple of occasions.Halftime 1-0.
A slid start from the 2nd half sees Josh, James and Ollie combine to good effect and the returning Ajay treats us to a cameo of strength, skill and panache. This parent loves a maverick and Ajay would give his best Eric Cantona impression in a breathtaking show of skill, taking on one, then another, then another and then another of the Whiteknights around the box. “Pass it” was hollered at him – not this time as he smashed a shot on the angle which was heading for the fabled “top bins” . However, the watching Whiteknights keeper had other plans, jumping and tipping the ball round the post.
A few minutes later and following a corner we were treated to another excellent piece of skill as Alfie intelligently crossed the ball to the far post where a watchful Lucas C cleverly flicked the ball in with the outside of his right foot. 2-0!
The game then started to peter out somewhat as the effort put in by all started to take it’s toll. Finch were strong though in defence and every time Whiteknights looked like they could break through the defence stood firm. Then , with 10 minutes to go , a Whiteknghts player breaking down the left crossed the ball and hit Sam T’s arm. Penalty! This time though, Whiteknights would score and suddenly we had a game.
To their credit, Whiteknights upped their game at this point and, after some slow play in defence a forward robbed Sam T of possession and made it 2-2 with three minutes to go. Finch would hold out though and the game would go to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Both keepers showed good form through the game. Who would be the hero? Who be the villain?
What transpired initially was a rogues gallery of generally how not to take penalties! Players on both sides were missing the target – and I will name no names! However, this was to be a long shoot-out, with Finch ahead at every point and having two opportunities to win it only to see either a ball over the top “three points Rugby Union style” or saved by the keepers. Our keeper Luke, ever the showman, scored his own spot kick – that’s the way you do it boys – and a calm George smashed in a remarkably well taken penalty. Once Luke had saved the 9th round of penalties up stepped Big Sam T to try to win us the game. As a reminder, this is the same Sam T who had conceded two penalties so now was the time for payback. Could he? Would he? Come on Sam….
A positive run up and a pass to the keeper’s left and it’s in! We’ve won! Sam is mobbed by his team mates and the boys are through! Big Sam F – what a guy!
Whiteknights deserve great credit for their positive attitude and they way they got back into the game but it’s Finch who go through to the Quarter Finals!