|Today saw a trip to Thornton Sports Centre to watch the 4th Round Gledhill Cup tie between Hydronics FC (Prem) and Ward Heating FC (Div 1). Hydronics were one of nine Premier Division sides looking to book a place in the quarter finals but how many would make it through?|
On the very same Sunday last season Hydronics FC beat Highfield Social FC 3-0 at home to reach the last eight of the Gledhill Cup. They went on to reach the final but in the end they came up short in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Quilligans FC. Today sees the thirteenth Sunday of the 2008/09 season but for one reason or another John Egan's Hydronics FC have only played on five of them. The league table shows them second bottom with no points separated only by goal difference from the Crescent FC. After a first round bye they've knocked out Progress Sports & Social FC and Layton Institute Juniors in order to reach today's fourth round.
This morning's opponents were Ward Heating FC. Last season's Division 2A Champions have adapted to life in the first Division quite well. This morning they were in fourth only two points behind the leaders having won four and drawn one of their opening seven games. They too received a first round bye and since then they've knocked out two Division 3B sides in the shape of Bar 19 FC and FC Matrix. Last season they only reached Round 2 and this was typical of manager Mick Hutchinson's shocking record in this competition over the last five seasons.
Thornton Sports Centre was today's venue and after a relatively dry week the pitch was still a little heavy in the corners but nothing to trouble referee Dave Holloway. Cold but dry with clearing skies. Hydronics kicked off towards the bowling green in the black and white halved kit.
Hydronics FC 2008/09.
Ward Heating FC 2008/09.
Referee Dave Holloway with the two captains.
It was a bright opening from both sides but with few clear cut chances. It wasn't until the 17th minute when Graham Hutchinson forced a decent save from Hydronics' keeper Littlewood that I had to get the pen and paper out. Moments later a Paul Bailey drive had stand-in Ward Heating keeper Dave Snowden scrambling across his six yard box.
Chris Matthews (Right)
Mr Holloway has to have a quiet word with Messrs Bailey and Gill.
Craig Littlewood does well to athletically tip a Ward Heating effort over the bar.
Reluctant Ward Heating FC substitute Kevin Duncalf.
On the half hour mark Ward Heating conceded a silly free kick just outside their own box. Before the kick could be taken a Hydronics player who was attempting to cause a nusiance in the wall went down clutching his stomach. Was it a punch?
Hydronics' manager John Egan certainly thought so.
Mr Holloway who didn't get an overly clear view leniently decided on a yellow card.
Back to the action and dead ball specialist Paul Bailey (Right) sends the ball on its way.
It's over the wall.
Over the keeper.
………and into the net.
Hydronics FC are ahead.
For the next ten minutes Hydronics bossed the game playing some great football on the floor from back to front. Ward were giving the ball away and at times were failing to even string three passes together. As the match headed towards the interval there was to be a penalty for each side.
On 40 minutes Ward keeper Snowden went walkabout – poor decision as he ended up tripping the Hydronics's forward. Although it was a clear pen referee Holloway kept his cards in his pockets.
The usually dependable Paul Bailey sends Snowden the wrong way but his fierce shot smashed off the top of the bar and away to safety.
Ward keeper Dave Snowden.
There was still time for another penalty but this time it was at the other end. Ward striker Bradley Gill was brought down by Chris Matthews. There was some argument as to whether or not it was inside or outside the box. Referee Holloway had no doubt – penalty.
Marvin Kane's poorly struck penalty was saved by Littlewood. An entertaining last five minutes in the first half.
Half time score : Hydronics FC 1 – 0 Ward Heating FC.
Strong words, short tempers and flying water bottles as the Ward Heating half time team talk clears the air after a poor half.
Ward Heating FC manager Mick Hutchinson – it's far calmer at work.
Ward Heating almost scored direct from the re-start. A long ball bounced off Gill and fell for Graham Hutchinson who twisted and shot in one movement but the ball went wide.
On 51 minutes Ward's increased confidence led to the equaliser. A cross into the box wasn't held by Littlewood as he and a Ward player collided at the far post. Littewood fell to the floor but the ball fell kindly for Nigel Marlow who struck the loose ball home as shown in the above picture. 1-1.
The defender couldn't keep it out.
Ward were now up for it and on the right wing Martin Marlow was beginning to get the better of Aaron Mathews in the boggy corner. On 57 minutes Marlow reached the byline, crossed and at the far post there was Neil Hankinson to tap it in. 1-2.
“What's going on?”
Another Bailey free kick forces Snowden into another important save.
The fishing net is a vital piece of equipment at the Sports Centre if you wish to retrieve the ball out of the ten foot dyke.
Hydronics were pushing for an equaliser. Snowden failed to hold on to this one but the home side failed to capitalise on the opportunity.
Kevin Duncalf (Left) and Aaron Matthews.
On 84 minutes and with Hydronics pushing forward the killer goal came for Ward as defensive gaps were exposed at the back. A through ball found Duncalf who took the ball on at pace, turned inside a defender and smashed it home from 25 yards. A fine and fearless finish. 1-3.
Littlewood is beaten for the third.
Gill and Duncalf celebrate the all important third goal.
A great late save from Littlewood keeps out a Ward fourth.
The final whistle goes and the respective managers shake hands.
Final score : Hydronics FC 1 – 3 Ward Heating FC.
An exciting Cup tie that was certainly a game of two halves. In the opening period the Premier Division side showed their class as they out-passed and outplayed their Division 1 opponents. A 2-0 half time lead wouldn't have been unfair. However, it was a completely different story in the second half as a much improved Ward Heating completely turned the tables with three good goals.
On reflection the Paul Bailey missed penalty was the turning point although the reason for Hydronics dramatic downtturn in their second half form was something of a mystery. Good performances from Bailey and Ben Hutley for Hydronics whilst Nigel Marlow, Marvin Kane and the Gill brothers caught the eye for Ward Heating. Good luck to them in the last eight. Well reffed by Mr Holloway.
This week's winner of the 'Teamsport90' Man of the match winning a training ball and the trophy was Ward Heating FC's Bradley Gill. Great workrate in the first half whilst his team was struggling chasing every ball helped keep his side in the match.