Sensational Pirates Keep Cup Dreams Alive In Thriller
(Sunday 19th October 2014)
A truly incredible game at Victoria Park saw The Pirates progress into the Quarter Finals of The NovaHomes Cup & notch back to back victories in the process, at the expense of Division 2 side Walkhampton.
Despite heavy rain for most of the week the game was given the go ahead, indeed stand in referee Murat Kaymaz who passed the pitch fit for play would have quite the afternoon when all was said & done! The Pirates took to the field in the now familiar 4-5-1 formation, largely unchanged from last weeks victory over The Southway. Paul Millar replaced Brad Smith (Unavailable) in central Midfield, Michael Brown switching to Right Back to cover James Berntsen (Holiday) with Enda Hannigan moving to Left Back for the day, Nick Errington also returned to the side at Centre Back.
The game got under way, The Pirates in Red kicking from Right to Left, it didn’t take long for the 1st bit of action! Directly from kickoff the returning Paul Millar slid a ball through to Callum Knight who effortlessly burst through 2 defenders & fired the ball in to the bottom right! What a start! 0-1.
Walkhampton were stunned, clearly not expecting such a quick start from the men in Red. They kicked off & immediately looked to get on the front foot to grab a leveller, but The Pirates were in no mood to roll over today. The Midfield trio of Millar, Luckham & Amador were working superbly well as a unit, with Greg Davis & Aaron Reed also working tirelessly up & down the lines to cover their full backs & raid forward given the chance. Knight up top a constant threat on the break.
With the game becoming more level another goal was surely on the way & it duly arrived just before the half hour mark, in truth a very fortunate goal at that. Walkhampton won a freekick 20yards from goal, the taker opting to go low, the ball through the wall & bobbling under Keeper Rhys Jones outstretched foot for 1-1, a hugely fortunate equalizer, however, not something The Pirates would allow to affect their spirit or determination to get back in front. Almost straight from the restart the Pirate pressure was back on, some super interplay between Midfield & Attack carving out a few half chances but on 42mins the reward came. Dan Amador putting in a superb tackle in the Midfield area catching Walkhampton players upfield in the process, sliding a crisp pass to Paul Millar who once again released the searing pace of Callum Knight, who cut inside dummied the Keeper, who was left on his backside, leaving the young striker notched his 2nd goal of the game. It was 1-2. That wasn’t the end of the scoring in the 1st half, just seconds before the half-time whistle The Pirates had further joy, Aaron Reed’s superb & clever low freekick from the right hand edge of the penalty area caused panic in the Walkhampton defence & after a poor attempt at a clearance Midfielder Greg Davis attacked the 2nd ball driving it in to the near post for His 2nd goal in as many games, The Pirates celebrated going in at the break with a superb 1-3 lead.
Kris Carpenter & Dave Miller gathered the Lads in at the break to urge concentration & focus for the 2nd half & as the game got back under way the focus was clearly in place in spades. Just 2mins in to the 2nd half Michael Brown drilled a long ball down the right channel, the Walkhampton Defender cutting it out but was caught dwelling on the byline, Paul Millar saw His chance, robbing the ball back & delivering a superb cross into the heart of the penalty area, time seemed to stand still as the cross reached Aaron Reed who adjusted His position brilliantly before firing a unstoppable half volley high in to the roof of the net, cheers on mass went up from The Pirates supporters! 1-4!
The Pirates braced themselves for an onslaught, Walkhampton bringing on 2 subs & switching to 4 forward players in an effort to get back in the game, Rhys Jones making several superb saves & Centre Back’s James Ewing & Nick Errington forced in to some last ditch tackles to hold off the attacking Home side. On 58mins the pressure did tell, a freekick was half cleared but after a scramble the rebound turned in for 2-4. Manager Carpenter elected to make 2 changes to get some fresh legs in the Midfield area, Adam Luckham & Greg Davis, both superb on the day were replaced by Dean Matthews & Dave Isaacs. Much to the frustration of the team though just a minute later it was 3-4, James Ewing hugely unfortunate to miss the ball with a last ditch tackle, despite Keeper Rhys Jones’ initial save the striker turned in the rebound, the game was back in the balance.
Given how tight & tense the game was becoming it seemed inevitable tempers would flair, this was the case 2mins after the goal, Aaron Reed extremely fortunate not to see red for a 2 footed lunge on the Walkhampton wide man, a booking was given, the home side were not happy! The best remedy to get the focus back, another goal! With a staggering 4th assist of the day for Paul Millar, clipping a fantastic through ball down the channel for Callum Knight who once again outstripped the last man & claimed His 1st hat-trick in Pirates colours, no doubt about it the young striker is on fire! 3-5.
After shipping the 5th goal Walkhampton heads were starting to go, the Number 8 picking up a booking on 68mins for dissent & further strong & in truth late challenges were becoming a regular occurrence, Pirates players Michael Brown & Sean Cross also picking up Yellows for voicing their views on the tackling, Cross himself booked before even coming on to the field, a Pirate 1st! Carpenter & Miller quickly got the message across to the team for calm, a further substitution was made, Cross was brought on to replace Reed for the final 20mins or so.
With only 10mins to play Walkhampton once again got themselves back in to the game, in truth a brilliant goal volleyed in from the edge of the box over Jones to make it 4-5. The Pirates were standing strong, the back 4 of Brown, Errington, Ewing & Hannigan all fighting hard for the cause putting in tackle after tackle, once again the Home side would let their frustration get the better of them, No4 was dismissed for His 2nd bookable offence & when substitute Dean Matthews crudely hacked down at thigh height with 85mins on the clock, a straight red was given to No14. Time was ebbing away, once again The Pirates were in debt to Keeper Rhys Jones who made yet another superb reaction one on one save to keep the Red men in front. Stoppage time, indeed 4mins in to it, Skipper Enda Hannigan chopping the Walkhampton winger in half on the far touchline & a booking was given, a huge intake of breath from all connected with The Pirates as the freekick was delivered, but much to the relief of all a long clearance was made, the referees whistle was blown, The Pirates win again!!! 3 further red cards were awarded to Walkhampton after the game, they were clearly far from impressed at losing, but nobody could deny The Pirates deserved their win.
How to sum this game up? Wow, quite the challenge! It had everything in truth, goals, cards, saves, chances & choice language! After winning for the 1st time last week The Pirates will take huge confidence from winning this game, against a side in a Division above no less! Even when the pressure was on a 2-4 & 4-5 the team effort & desire to fight for one another shone through, the confidence is up & the team are really playing some really excellent Football. A pleasure to watch. Next week see’s a return to League action as Plymouth Hope visit Skull N’Bones Park, one thing is for sure, playing like this The Pirates will be confident the winning run can continue. COYP.
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to Callum Knight. As with last week the Team as a whole deserved a huge amount of credit & also notable shouts to Rhys Jones & Paul Millar for excellent individual performances, but nobody can deny Callum was the stand out performer on the day. Since joining The Pirates a few weeks back He has become a vital part of how the team play, His direct running, skill & ability to finish seemingly any chance he gets provides a real platform for winning games. A mention for His attitude as well, Callum has integrated superbly with the other squad members & has shown a real desire to make the impression He has, Congrats Callum.
Goal Scorers: Knight (1, 42, 67) Davis (45) Reed (47)
Jones, Brown, Errington, Ewing, Hannigan (c) Reed, Luckham, Millar, Amador, Davis, Knight.
Cross, Isaacs, Matthews.
Man Of The Match: Callum Knight