Pirates Undone Late By Title Favorites In Season Opener
(Sunday 16th August 2015)
The smell of freshly cut grass, bright sunshine & clean, sharp looking new Club attire, these can mean only one thing, the Sunday League Football Season is back upon us! The Pirates began their 3rd Season of establishment in Division 3 with a very tough looking opening fixture against last season’s Division 1 Champions Maristow, who’s previous incarnation was that of The Bluebird FC. The stiffest test for any side in this Division.
The match was played at The Pirates Home pitch at Plympton Saint Mary, nicknamed ‘Skull N’Bones Park’ & as the match got underway a sense of real anticipation was in the air, debuts were handed to Keeper Liam Hooks, Defender Sammy McGowan, Midfielder Danny Allen & Striker Adam Smietanka, all whom had joined The Pirates during Pre-Season & all bringing high levels of experience & quality to the squad. Lining up in the now customary 4-2-3-1 formation the whistle was blown & the Season was up & running & it was the Home side that made most of the early running. Jimmy Williams & the previously mentioned Smietanka linking up well down the right hand side channel & opening opening up Maristow’s back line twice in the early stages. However, it would be the away side that would make the break through, a clever piece of interplay in the midfield area resulting in a well placed through ball that dissected The Pirates back four allowing the centre forward to nip in, control & notch the opener from 12 yards on 9mins.
A set back but not a terminal one for the men in Red, who immediately got their heads up & went again, something that was often not the case last season, Callum Knight’s pace down the left hand channel was a constant headache for the Maristow Defence, who time & time again resorted to crude fouls as their only skill to stop the counter attacks, however on 14mins their plan back fired, Smietanka & Williams combined well to apply pressure to one of the Centre Back’s just inside the centre circle & with a well placed block tackle Jimmy Williams nicked the ball, outpaced the flailing Defender & despite a bobble of the ball slid the shot under the advancing Keeper in to the bottom right corner. A goal very much deserved for the Home side. It was 1-1.
The game now even both sides set about the task of grabbing the lead, the Away side coming close twice in 10mins forcing two excellent reflex saves from Liam Hooks, who, in truth, wasn’t feeling His best pre-match due to some off pitch fun the night before! The saves certainly seemed to shake him from head haze! The Pirates themselves continued to threaten at the other end, Callum Knight seeing an opportunity plucked from His toes after rounding the Keeper & Danny Allen, who’s partnership with Michael Brown was showing signs of flourishing, went close on two occasions, one freekick narrowly over the bar & an acrobatic effort that flashed wide as well. on 40mins the first sign of fraying tempers bubbling over would show, Pirates youngster Knight picking up a Yellow Card for dissent after being crudely hacked nearly in half on the far touchline, but the young Forwards protests fell on deaf ears & receiving a booking only added to the pain of the situation! Despite both sides pressing hard the scoreline would remain level at the break, Half-Time 1-1.
The second half got underway & it was clear both sides would adopt the win at all costs philosophy, some very strong challenges rattling in, Danny Allen, Nick Errington & James Ewing all making some superb sliding challenges in the early stages. The first clear cut chance of the second period fell The Pirates way, on 52mins Adam Smietanka’s sublime 40yard cross field pass picked out the flying Jimmy Williams lung busting run down the right channel & when His cross fell back to the provider he slid in Allen who cross goal drive was superbly saved on to the bar by the Maristow keeper, truly an incredible save at close range. On 58mins came the first change, Michael Brown was withdrawn & Brad Smith returned to The Pirates team after a lengthy absence to slot in alongside Allen in the Midfield area. Maristow were upping their levels & began to take control forcing more good saves from Hooks & putting the Home side under more & more strain at the back, however, on 68mins came a bizarre incident from a Pirates left side corner Sam Bruty rose highest & appeared to have powered a header in to the net… However, after a brief pause the Referee called the Skipper across & brandished a Yellow card for deliberate hand ball, despite the Forwards insistence he was pushed the goal was chalked off & a few mins later manager Carpenter withdrew His man, replacing Him with Enda Hannigan, who slotted in to the Midfield pushing Allen further up field
Time was fast running out for both sides to find a winner, a moment of controversy came up on 72mins, Sam McGowan lucky to escape a sending off, after slipping trying to defend a through ball & pulling the Centre Forward to the floor, however much to His relief a Linesman’s flag saved His bacon! However on 78mins The Pirates luck would run out, despite having had a superb game McGowan was caught out by a long ball through the middle of the park & although He was clearly being pulled to the ground & indeed fouled the Centre Forward forced His way through the middle of the box & fired past hooks. 1-2. A crushing blow to the Home side, but there was no giving in, just 3mins later came a chance to level things up, a clear handball in the box from the Maristow Defender at a corner was correctly punished by Referee Chris Evans, PENALTY! Danny Allen stepped up having been named the new Penalty taker for the Season but an old haunting continued from last season for The Pirates… MVI_0458 SAVED! A real head in hands moment & from a quick glance around the team a mental breaking point. Late goals in the 87th & 89th mins would ultimately put the game beyond the reach of recovery. Maristow, despite being largely over rated & relying on not much more than a decent physical edge & intimidation tactics alone took the points & left Carpenter’s men with a feeling of what could’ve been & a sense of disappointment at not claiming at least a draw. Full-Time 1-4.
Stephens (RB) Errington (CB) McGowan (CB) Ewing (LB)
Allen (MF) Brown (MF)
Williams (RF) Bruty (CF) Knight (LF)
Amador, Smith, Isaacs, Hannigan, Jones.
Duke Of Cornwall FC (A) Sunday 30th August 2015, Filham, Ivybridge.
Man Of The Match
Man Of The Match: Nick Errington
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to Nick Errington. Nick’s partnership with new signing Sammy McGowan could prove pivotal to The Pirates achievements this season, in truth it was tough to split the two in terms of the MOTM award, but for several last ditch goal saving tackles, winning almost everything in the air & shackling one of the highest rated Strikers in the League Nick got the vote. A superb performance. Congratulations Nick.