We fought the Lawes and we finally won! | Hounds Christmas Party by Dunc, 11th Dec 2010
First team reporter and bossmanager Steve McMahonaman gives us all a lengthy one. It must be Christmas! [Yes, I know it’s hideously late – I’ve been busy!!]
Lawes Juniors 2 – 3 Hounds
It’s a long one (that’s what she said), but it was an action packed game. [Oh. I think I ruined that joke for you up there. Soz.]
The Hounds marvellous GFA cup tradition continued with a hard fought 3-2 win over fellow Downs League team Lawes Juniors. Having lost only twice in the competition in the last two seasons, [err, surely you can only lose once per season in a cup run anyway…] the Hounds were full of confidence that this could be another good year for them. After a two week absence, fans and players alike were keen to get back to action, but after the top pitches were failed their morning inspection, the game was moved to the postage stamp of pitch #13. Upon close inspection, some parts had thawed and left puddles, others had not and were still rock solid – perfect football conditions then really. Excellent.
When the Reserve Team game fell victim to the weather, a sell out crowd was expected as watching a game was surely better than Christmas shopping with the Missus for the third weekend in a row. The Hounds had the numerical advantage in the stands and there was an added air of determination amongst the players to put on a show for the fans. Lawes sprung a late tactical change to recent games and reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 system, possibly due to several of their players turning up too late to get changed in time for kick off. Either way, the Hounds stuck with their attacking intentions despite Si Cleave failing a late fitness test, confessing to manager McMahonaman, “I’ve got a bit of flu, so if numbers are ok, I’ll sit this one out”. Unsympathetic McMahonaman, famed for his people skills (and his curly perm), said “why don’t you start on the bench then? Just have a Lemsip (other brands are available) and get on with it”. “OK” said Cleave.
Both teams were keen to attack from the off and early chances were created at either end of the tiny, tiny pitch, with the Hounds Keeper Coulthard denying several efforts. Matt Little and Adam Chequer went close for the Hounds before the game took a slight turn towards the nasty. Cheqs appeared to jump into a tackle and take more of the Lawes player then the ball, to the clear upset of several Lawes players, the ref did not punish the tackle. This fortunate leniency set the standard for the game with several more of Cheqs’ challenges going unpunished when on another day he could have received several cards of various colours. The Lawes players were giving as good as they got and a physical game was developing. The narrow pitch and increasingly poor standard of the rapidly thawing and muddying pitch resulted in only a few sporadic periods of good play to keep the crowd interested until Lawes took the lead in the 35th minute. A ball over the top allowed the striker in behind the Hounds back line, the cross was only half cleared to the edge of the box, and with time to pick his spot, the Lawes midfielder found the bottom corner, beyond the desperate dive of Coulthard. The Hounds pressed for the equaliser, but found themselves one goal down going into the half-time break.
The Hounds came out strong in the second half, clearly revved up from their half time team talk and determined to get back into the game. The breakthrough did not come and so McMahonaman made a decisive change to switch to 4-4-2 with the not quite match fit Cleave coming on to join top scorer Little up front. The change sparked a new wave of optimism with Cleave’s first run sending panic through the Lawes back four. While the change appeared to help the Hounds to create more chances, they found themselves with a real mountain to climb as they went 2-0 down from a Lawes corner. The initial cross was headed across goal allowing the Lawes player to prod home from inside the 6 yard box.
If we have learnt anything about the Hounds this year, it’s that they don’t give up and they keep fighting until the final whistle and today was no exception. The Hounds continued to press for a way back into the game, increasingly leaving bigger gaps at the back – in truth Lawes should have put the game beyond the Hounds, but several stunning saves for Coulthard, including a Schmeicel style double save off his face, prompting some of the crowd to make comparisons between him and the Young McMahonaman: “That reminded me of a Young McMahonaman” said Hounds Desk Job whipping boy (and officially heaviest Hound), Dan Kanaris. The gung-ho attitude persisted and another mazy, jinking run from Cleave into the Lawes area finished with his low drive taking a wicked deflection and looping into the net, a lifeline for the Hounds with 10 minutes to go.
The Hounds were now camped inside the Lawes half and a whipped in corner from Williams was met by Matt Little, only the faintest of touches was registered, possibly off his Alan band, but it was enough to send the ball onto the head of the ginger defender and into the net to level the game with 5 minutes to go. As the crowd (and some of the more senior players who hadn’t played for two weeks and had run about like mentalists on a really heavy, boggy pitch and could feel their calves tightening up), feared extra time was looming, the Hounds got their reward for persistent attacking and determination. The Young McMahonaman won the ball high up the pitch and drove into the area, an excellent ball in to the corridor of uncertainty between ‘keeper and back four was lashed home at the far post by Cleave to complete a remarkable turnaround. The goal sent the capacity crowd delirious and the stewards struggled to hold them back, the players celebrated wildly on the pitch running to congratulate the match winner. Hang on a minute – there were shouts and protests from the Lawes bench and players – was it offside? Surely not – had it gone wide? Why would everyone be celebrating? Coach McMahonaman then noticed the ball being retrieved some 15 yards beyond the goal – the ball must have gone through the net, but did it go wide as the Lawes players were claiming? The ref had given the goal straight away, and then inspected the net further to conclude it was a goal to the visible disgust of Lawes. With two minutes left on the clock the Hounds had one foot in the quarter final, all that remained was a long range effort from Lawes, safely palmed over by Coulthard to cries of “Goal, it went in ref, check the net” from Lawes, plus a Cleave break away to try and seal the game – he avoided several pro-evo style last man slide tackles, aimed at just tripping him up and he elected to shoot weakly at goal from 30 yards, claiming afterwards “my legs had gone” – clearly not fit after only 35 minutes on the pitch.
The final whistle allowed the Hounds to celebrate their third quarter final appearance in the last three years, where they will meet Old Sodbury again for the third time, in the now traditional January fixture. The result continues the Hounds great run of form and excellent start under new Boss McMahonaman “This is the best day so far of my managerial career, I’m so proud of the players, they kept going and kept believing we could get something out of it. It’s the first time I’ve beaten Lawes, and to do it from two down is amazing, I’m literally bouncing off the walls with excitement right now.” McMahonaman does not normally single out players for individual praise, but he had a special word for match winner Cleave: “He dragged himself out of his sick bed today, I asked him if it was worth it, he said, well I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but he said it was, he’s got that ability in his locker, he should have done better with the one at the end though. I didn’t have the best of angles for the winner, but I know my players, they don’t cheat, never have done and never will do under my management, all the crowd saw it go in, and several of their (Lawes) players admitted it did go in. To create a spontaneous reaction like that if it didn’t go in would be nearly impossible, I’ll sleep fine knowing it was a goal and we deserved the win. Matt Little scored again today, that’s a goal a game for us, which is truly amazing. Everyone worked hard today, Graeme kept us in it on several occasions, he deserved his MOTM award. The pitch was heavy and conditions were tough, it’s a great result for all the fans who were magnificent again.” Fans will be keen to get their hands on tickets for the next game as another sell out crowd is expected. “We’re going to win it this year” said season ticket holder and lifelong fan Jimmy Daniel, “delighted with the win, our name must be on the cup after a performance like that, Old Sodbury in the next round, bring it on, make it three years on the bounce”.
Coulthard 9, McMahon 7, Roberts 7 (Fletcher 55, 7), Cook 7, Williams 7, Redbond 7, Chequer 7 (May 65, 7) Howe 7 (Cleave 55, 8), Paul 7, Wiles 7; Little 8
Hounds Christmas Party
It’s Christmas! Already!!