Hounds race to Norman Hardy Cup final! | Reserves demolish Luccombe Garage by Dunc, 20th Mar 2010
The now once-yearly, only-if-we-win-a-semi-final, McMahon Sports match report is now up!
Hounds 2 – 0 Torpedo
Sporting Greyhounds have reached their second final in two years with victory over Torpedo in the Norman Hardy cup semi-final on Downs Pitch # 3. A brace from striker Matt Little sealed the win that gives the Hounds another shot at their first trophy under the stewardship of Player Manager James Ford. Preparations for the game were questioned when several of the Hounds squad turned up showing the effects of last night’s alcohol consumption, indeed Ali Wiles had to expunge several units of this alcohol pre-kick off, although he did have the decency to walk off the pitch first. He assured the management he was ready and raring to go and that was the first time he had done that since January.
Both teams showed an attacking intent in the early minutes of the game, with play switching quickly from end to end, indeed the Torpedo team appeared to settle into their game quicker than the Hounds, but the reliable back line and safe hands of ‘keeper Graeme were not truly tested, restricting Torpedo to speculative efforts from range. The Hounds goal was most severely tested by a flying clearance from full back Cook, the ball slicing wildly off his boot to land behind for a corner. “That could have gone anywhere” he said to the now slightly less pale Wiles. The other full back McMahon was having an uncomfortable time as well, clearly regretting the nth, nth+1 and nth+2 pint consumed after the beer festival. This was somewhat out of character for the Young McMahon, recently appointed Hounds nutritionist, known for his sporting dietary and nutrition expertise. However, the famed Hounds team spirit was alive and well and saw the players through the early minutes.
The Hounds were dealt a cruel blow with 10 minutes on the clock when Captain Braveheart himself appeared to be felled by a long range sniper when attempting to head a long clearance; Ford fell prone and immediately clutched his hamstring. “It’s gone” he said “I’m off”. Neil “n_MAN” Roberts was brought on as a replacement and quickly adjusted to the pace of the game. The change did not disrupt the rhythm of the Hounds play, and as the half played on they became more comfortable on the ball. On the twenty minute mark, McMahon removed all effects of last night’s excesses when he latched on to a loose ball mid way into the Torpedo half, a neat one two was played with Harvo, that left McMahon free on the edge of the Torpedo area. A low cross-shot was deflected into Matt Little’s path who neatly finished past the hapless Torpedo ‘keeper, ticket to the raffle bought and prize claimed. The goal was just reward for the effort the Hounds had put into the first half, defending into a strong breeze in ever deteriorating weather conditions. Indeed the lead could have been doubled when an excellent set piece caused havoc in the Torpedo defence, only for the header to be put harmlessly wide. There was a moment of controversy just on the stroke of half time as Cook hauled down a Torpedo player on the half way line with little attempt to play the ball, several Torpedo players surrounded the referee claiming the foul deserved a booking. “That was cynical ref” I heard one say, but we don’t like to see people get booked, and the referee’s better judgement let Cook off with just a stern talking to. It is unclear if the subject of the talking to was the tackle or the shocking bright yellow boots that Cook decided to buy with his own money, and apparently was not forced to wear as punishment for a bet he lost.
At half-time the Hounds held a deserved lead, defending well and denying Torpedo the opportunity to make the most of the conditions. The lead was deservedly doubled on 55 minutes, when a McMahon free kick was met by the head of Matt Little, his effort looped perfectly into the net beyond the despairing ‘keeper. Torpedo made immediate substitutions to chase the game but this inevitably left space at the back, and it was the hounds that looked the more likely to score the next goal with the Torpedo keeper saving well from Matt Little and Si Cleave, the latter an excellent stop turning Cleave’s goal bound effort onto the post. The Hounds defence stood strong and restricted Torpedo to long-range efforts and dealt well with the threat posed by the ‘unit’ that came on, all 6ft 10 of him. Torpedo created one excellent chance when the striker, not the unit, who was being marshalled excellently by the impressive McMahon, evaded his marker only to head high over the bar. The referee could not keep his cards in his pocket for the whole game though as Chequer’s late tackle on the Torpedo full back earned him his second yellow of the season, becoming the first Hounds player to make it to 20 bookings.
A further change was inflicted on the Hounds when Si Cleave received a high boot to the face, resulting in a nasty cut needing several stitches, Herbert his replacement nearly had an immediate impact, heading just wide after excellent work from Little in the Torpedo area. That save was one of a string of excellent stops made by the Torpedo ‘keeper, winning him a deserved Man of the Match award, a clear sign of the dominance the Hounds had in the game and the number of chances created.
The last minutes of the game were played out and the clean sheet and victory ensured with an excellent last ditch block from McMahon which epitomised the determination shown by the whole team. “That block from Mc Mahon at the end epitomised the determination shown by the whole team” said Ford at the end of the game, “We’re delighted to be in the final, after coming so close last season, hopefully we can go on and win a trophy this year, the fans were magnificent again today, and we’d like to reward them with a victory in the final.” Ford was full of praise for his team but singled out Little for particular praise. “I have to say the whole team were superb today, but I do need to single Matt Little out as he scored two goals for us and his overall work rate was excellent, he was playing sweeper at one point in the second half, he was everywhere, it will be very interesting to see his pro zone match analysis of his ball touches, as I reckon he covered every blade of grass and clump of mud out there today. Matt was clearly pleased with the way he played today and he deserved his goals, you can see on the replays he really enjoyed them; just look at his, just look at his face.”
The Hounds will hope to keep all their players fit and available for the big game in 6 weeks time, Torpedo will hope that striker Eric resurfaces soon as he has not been seen since the first minute of the match amidst rumours he was so comfortable in Tickner’s back pocket he decided to take up permanent residence there.
Retired striker and Hounds Chairman Dan Kanaris was on hand to offer his congratulations to the team. “Congratulations team, well done” he said. There were rumours that Kanaris had come out of retirement for the Reserves match against Luccombe Garage on Saturday, although the team scored 6 without reply, the absence of Kanarisis’ name from the team sheet suggested he thought better of dusting off the boots and is now confined permanently to his behind-the-scenes desk job for the Hounds. Lyons continued his hot streak and bagged a hatrick for the team, Gerring (2) and Fletcher completed the scoring in a comfortable win for the Hounds Reserves that keeps the pressure on the leaders in Downs Division 3.
Tickets for the final are already selling fast with die hard Hounds fans delighted to be involved in the show piece event in the Downs season. Season Ticket Holder Jimmy Daniels was delighted to get his hands on a ticket. “I’m delighted to get my hands on a ticket, it’s another great achievement for the Hounds, we had the GFA Cup final last year, and the Downs cup this year, we just hope the boys go on and win it.” The final of the Norman Hardy Cup will be between Sporting Greyhounds and Sneyd Park on the 8th May on Downs Pitch # 3.
Coulthard, 7; Cook, 7 Ford (sub: Roberts ‘10, 7) Tickner, 7 McMahon, 7; Wiles, 7 Chequer, 7 Paul, 7 Harvey, 7; Cleave, 7 (sub Herbert ‘60, 7) Little, 8
[Editor’s note: some events may not have taken place, some events may not be in exact chronological order, some quotes may have been made up.]