Late Heartbreak For The Pirates As Smeaton Take The Spoils
(Sunday 29th March 2015)
Game 2 of the Sunday Supplementary Cup Group B, once again wet & windy conditions greeted both teams ahead of kickoff, A group of The Pirates squad arriving early in the morning to clear puddles of standing water from the pitch to enable the game to go ahead. The Home sides starting lineup saw the return of Captain Enda Hannigan, as well as Michael Brown, James Berntsen & Paul Millar. Dan Amador & Adam Luckham also returned to play support roles to Sam Bruty who was the makeshift CF for the day. Kicking from right to left The Pirates got the game under way, Smeaton Homes quickly gaining possession & going on the front foot, this trend would continue for the majority of the 1st period! The 1st chance of the game came just 5mins in, the Away side racing down the left hand side penetrating the back line & the ST shooting past keeper Richard Johns, only to see His shot sticking in the muddy goal mouth & being cleared to safety! It should have been the opener in truth!
The pressure continued, Smeaton Homes battering The Pirates back line & forcing the MF deeper & deeper which essentially further isolated Sam Bruty & the two attackers behind Him in Luckham & Amador, chances came & went for the Away side, long range efforts testing Johns as well as a series of corners being cleared at last ditch quarters! 2 low strikes also whistled narrowly past the post, the opener wasnt far away though & the Smeaton went in front on 16mins, a good through ball turned in at the far post after some poor marking, it was a deserved lead. 0-1.
The men in Green needed a response but more lethargic play meant it would not be until the 24th minute for The Pirates to register a really clean cut chance, Enda Hannigan getting a good looking cross in which Bruty narrowly missed connection on. This seemed to light a small fire & within the next few minutes chances came & went for Brown & Errington from close range, Hanningan was the man closest to the leveller though, on 32mins His crunching tackle on the far side touchline resulted in a 25yard yard pile driver which whistled narrowly over the crossbar. It was to be a false dawn.
On 42mins Smeaton Homes grabbed a 2nd, a simple ball from the centre circle beat the offside trap giving the ST all the time in the world to skip through on goal & turn in to the left hand corner, The Pirates appealed in vein for offside but it was 0-2, more bad news was to follow just a minute later! A penalty was awarded for a disputed coming together of 3 bodies, the Smeaton man certainly making a meal of the challenge, but never the less got up to dispatch the spot kick for 0-3. Half-Time.
The 2nd half got under way, The Pirates ears & ego’s stung but some harsh, loud words from Manager Kris Carpenter during the break, words that needed to be said! The 1st half possibly the worst seen all season long! Within just a minute of the restart it was clear the Home side were out to make amends, Captain Hannigan setting the trend with a thunderous challenge in the MF, Brad Smith & Adam Luckham also going through some strong tackles in the middle of the pitch. The 1st chance arrived when Dan Amador attempted to lob the keeper from 25yards after His poor clearance, the shot narrowly dropping over the crossbar, next came a moment that would lift Pirates heads further.
The 56th minute ticked by & suddenly out of nowhere a clear cut chance The Pirates had craved! Paul Millar did well to combine with Nick Errington before releasing Sam Bruty clean through the middle, the Forward taking the ball down & past the Goal Keeper who from the angle pulled Bruty back & indeed to the floor, PENALTY! RED CARD! Referee Allen Lewis making the correct call on both, a way back in to the game beckoned! Michael Brown took the ball & placed it on the spot… MVI_0026 SAVED!!! Agonising for the men in Green, Brown’s spot kick was turned aside by the replacement keeper, Paul Millar attempting to turn in the resulting cross in from the resulting corner but it bounced wide, it remained 0-3, Pirates heads noticeably went down.
Despite the missed Penalty it was clear The Pirates were rejuvenated & got straight back on the front foot, Millar’s cross was an inch from dropping in to the net but just went wide & Nick Errington’s rasping drive resulted in a fine low save combined with the post to keep the scoreline the same, but on 75mins the hard work would pay off. After a Smeaton player had tried to the con the Ref with a dive the Home side went on the counter attack leaving Him in a heap, no chance was the ball being played out, Millar once again supplied a good looking cross which caused mayhem in the 6 yard box as Errington went for goal, as His effort was blocked He had the composure to lay on Sam Bruty to turn in the rebound as the keeper flapped, it was 1-3. The game was then well & truly back on when on 83mins a 2nd was banged Home! Sam Bruty again the scorer, Nick Errington once again the catalyst as His near post corner found the centre forward who’s towering leap & powerful header resulted in the ball crashing in to the roof of the net! 2-3!
The final 7mins & it was all out attack for Home side, pushing on both full backs & pushing Defender Brad Smith in to Midfield, the momentum was with Carpenter’s men & incredibly with just seconds left on the clock the equalizer came out of nothing! Sam Bruty won a 50/50 in the middle of the pitch fed the now pushed on Paul Millar who took aim from fully 25yards & with a swift swing of the right foot the ball rocketed goal wards & with the help of ever increasing wind speed the shot found the roof of the net past the flailing replacement Smeaton keeper! 3-3! With a renewed sense that there could still be time to even win the game The Pirates raced to get the game back under way, this would prove to be a fatal error, as the ball was booted forward into Richard Johns hands the Keeper was encouraged to get the ball forward by His team mates but in His haste to do so the clearance was sliced & with sub Aaron Reed & James Ewing caught flat footed & unable to make the interception the ball found its way in to the right channel of the box & was swept in at the near post, no sooner had the ball found the net the Referee’s whistle was blown, a heartbreaking end to the game as Smeaton robbed The Pirates of the point their second half efforts deserved. final score 3-4.
Bruty (69,83) Millar (90)
Johns, Berntsen, Ewing, Smith, Hannigan (c), Luckham, Amador, Brown, Millar, Errington, Bruty.
Reed, Cross, Stephens.
Match Sum Up
The classic game of two halves today! The 1st half was frankly appalling, no energy, organisation, passion, heart of fight shown by anyone & coming in at the break only 0-3 down was lucky in truth! That being said after some strong words & soul searching at Half-Time The Pirates came out fighting 2nd half, coming back from 3 down to level was impressive but also the level of team spirit & pure desire to get back in the game was admirable, conceding with the last kick of the game having levelled so late was naive but equally something that can be learned from. Overall the disappointment lingers on even days later, as this was a very winnable game, but heading in to next weekends final League game of the season the 2nd half fight back keeps the spirits up.
Man Of The Match
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to Sam Bruty. Sam’s performances have been consistently excellent since His arrival with The Pirates, having played in His usual MF role & as a CB previously, today He was given the ST role & did a superb job! Providing hold up play, strength in the final third & an option to play the ball in to feet He stood out as the outstanding performer on the day, His leadership along with Brad Smith was also noted on a day of mixed emotions for the team. Congrats Sam.
Man Of The Match: Sam Bruty