Smeaton Homes Edge Pirates In Tight Affair
(Sunday 30th November 2014)
The Pirates finally got back in to League this weekend having missed the last 3 weeks due to bad weather & pitch conditions in Plymouth, sadly despite an excellent performance the result would not be a positive one against rivals Smeaton Homes.
Kicking from Right to Left the Home side got the game under way, in contrast to the previous weeks bright sunshine shone across the pitch, hats on for keepers! The Pirates, sporting their Away shirts due to opposition not having a change kit, made a few changes from the last League match, Richard Johns making a return between the sticks, Michael Brown revering to RB in the absence of James Berntsen (Holiday) a move that also saw Captain Enda Hannigan play at LB. In MF there were changes as well with Paul Millar & Nick Errington also returning.
Early signs were good, Callum Knight causing trouble for the Smeaton back line who were caught square on 5mins by the young striker’s deadly pace, cutting inside & unleashing a shot that seemingly was blocked by a hand but nothing was given. The Pirates continued to push, the midfield central 3 of Amador, Errington & Millar controlling most of the play & pressing the ball forwards, but on 20mins it was Smeaton Homes who forced the returning Richard Johns in to action, a ball in behind the men in Greens defence presented the striker with a one on one chance, Johns standing tall & making a super save at His near post, however, it would be a let off that would only last 1 minute. With the next attack the away side would make the break through, after a Midfield skirmish the ball dropping to the playmaker who with out hesitation sent a very speculative 35 yard shot towards goal, in truth give Him 99 more attempts he wouldnt hit the ball so cleanly, sadly this was the 1 time he did, top corner, Johns no chance. 0-1.
Stunned by the goal The Pirates quickly looked to get back on the front foot & attack, wide men Greg Davis & Aaron Reed getting in some good crosses towards the box, the latter also going close with 2 freekicks that narrowly missed their targets, James Ewing & Nick Errington. Smeaton Homes still posed a threat on the break, keeper Johns having to be alert to sweep on 2 occasions to keep the 0-1 scoreline. Just before the break came the 1st really clean cut chance for Carpenter’s Men, the clever feet of Dan Amador releasing forward Knight through the middle of the square looking Away Defence, but when it seemed the equalizer was bound to come the Keeper made a stunning double save & turned the ball behind for the corner, which would be cleared, A harsh scoreline at the break, but not one that The Pirates didnt feel confident to turn around. Half-Time 0-1.
After a positive & upbeat team talk The Pirates cam out in the 2nd half with a renewed sense of drive to get this game level, straight from the kickoff it was clear this game wasn’t over by a long chalk. The opening 10mins of the half were entirely one way traffic, all towards the Smeaton goal, Knights pace, Davis & Reed’s through balls & the pressing style of fullbacks Brown & Hannigan causing the pressure to mount, but for a very close offside call & Paul Millar’s through ball not getting caught in the long grass the Home side could’ve been level very early on in the 2nd period. Despite the early pressure no break through would come, in fact the Away side gained a 2nd wind, James Ewing making several superb challenges & headers to deny clear cut chances for the 2nd goal, in fact Ewing & Brad Smith were really stepping up as the driving forces in the game, keeping the opposition at bay & pressing the Midfield forwards in the search of a leveller.
Just past the hour, the moment would arrive for The Pirates & it wouldn’t be without controversy! After a sustained period of pressure ‘The Greens’ forced a string of corners, the 3rd of which would be rewarded, Greg Davis whipping in a superb ball, Dan Amador attacking the ball in the air, the Keeper diving full length to save, from what looked to be behind the line! No decision was given, but as the clearance was attempted, Aaron Reed somehow managed to scramble the ball goalwards with a clever Cruyff turn, once again the ball going agonisingly close to the goal line but the Keeper once again saving, but, to everyone on the touchline’s surprise the Referee gave the goal! Judging the ball over the line! The Away side furious with the decision, but The Pirates joyful! In the act of scoring the goal Reed had to be helped from the pitch with a groin injury, replaced by Dave Isaacs. The game was 1-1 & it was all to play for!
With the equalizer came a new game, The Home side cranking the pressure on Smeaton who were clearly incensed with the award of the goal, they would be livid again a short time later. Despite The Pirates driving on to get the goal it was Smeaton Homes who had a break away chance to grab the lead back, another one on one chance would present itself, Richard Johns racing from goal & cleaning out both Attacker & Ball, it seemed a Penalty would be the result but amazingly the Referee waved away the protests & the game continued, it was clear both sides wanted the win. With just 10mins left on the clock The Pirates hearts were broken, after a seemingly 50/50 tackle between Brad Smith & the Smeaton attacker on the edge of the box the Referee awarded the Away side the free kick, as the ball was struck goalwards the aid of lucky deflection off the wall saw the ball sweep past Johns who had no chance to re-adjust, it was 1-2, this time it was The Pirates players & managements turn to be livid at a frankly incorrect decision, Manager Kris Carpenter saying later that it seemed to be a case of the Referee “Levelling up” bad decisions after the controversy of the equalizer.
With only 10mins or so to save the point the Home Side bombed forwards, Steve Lacy & Sean Cross were introduced as substitutes, Carpenter electing to go 3 at the back in the pursuit of the leveller, Dave Isaacs’ long throws causing panic in the Smeaton Defensive line & MOTM James Ewing driving in to Midfield in a last ditch attempt to press the game higher up. Nick Errington went agonisingly close to scoring with a trademark header that whistled narrowly past the angle of bar & post. Despite deserving the draw as a minimum, time would run out on The Pirates, a truly gutting defeat given the level of performance, but despite the best efforts, defeat it was.
Looking back at the game it was one that The Pirates really did deserve to take something from, Smeaton Homes would argue they were worthy of a point, but at the very least a draw would’ve been fair on both. Despite the defeat The Pirates played like a team capable of getting some really good results in the 2nd half of the season, competition for places in the squad is bringing out the best in players & putting pressure on those not involved to lift their games to get back in. The only downside of the day is Aaron Reed’s injury, likely to rule him out until the new year. Next weekend see’s a Home clash with Tamar View, currently bottom of Division 3, a Win & 3 points are a must for The Barbican Pirates Boys. COYP.
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to James Ewing. James came to the club as a natural Left Back but week on week playing at Centre Back He has displayed leadership, strength, determination & a real drive to make the position His own, forging partnerships with Brad, Nick or Enda He always looks the part at the back & continues to impress. Today he was the stand out performer & deserves the award. Congrats James.
Goal Scorers: Reed (62)
Johns, Brown, Ewing, Smith, Hannigan (c), Reed, Errington, Amador, Millar, Davis, Knight.
Lacy, Isaacs, Cross.
Man Of The Match: James Ewing