GALLANT STREETERS PUSH CENTRAL CLOSE

KSB UNITED 1-1 CENTRAL (*Central win 5-3 on penalties) - SMCCFL Cup Round 1 - SLS Stadium - 8.1.18

In July’s SMCCFL Cup draw, there were gasps when Central were initially thought to be playing KSB, in a repeat of the Charity Cup Final. This was however, later revealed to be incorrect, and it would be KSB United who would face the Division One leaders. For various reasons, the game had been postponed several times, before it was finally decided to be MNF at Fearns.

With manager Brett Aspden and assistant Tom Pickup unavailable, KSB mather Gaff Pickup had to temporarily take reins. On a freezing cold night, it was going to take a big effort to compete with Central, but there was a strong squad to do so.

From the start the home side (Central) had the lion’s share of possession, with the visitors (KSB United) happy to keep their shape, defend as a unit, and try and take their opportunities on the counter when possible. The whole team defended admirably, limiting the Division One side to a few speculative efforts, apart from one clear-cut chance which struck the bar, and keeper Josh Hughes saved well with his feet from the rebound.

On the break, United were causing one or two problems. Captain Daven Argile nearly got the opener, but his effort was blocked after a good move. Just before half time there was a big talking point when following excellent work from Joel Brown down the right, the ball was played into Phil Butterworth. It looked for all the world as though the striker was about to stick it in the old onion bag, before he went down under a challenge from a defender from behind. The screams for a penalty were surprisingly waved away by the referee.

0-0 at half time was a promising score-line – it would require another big shift from the United lads to stay in the game, and there was a feeling that there could possibly be a shock on the cards. It was just after the break that the feeling grew even further.

After a couple of promising moments, the ball landed to Matt Jones, who had replaced Phil Argile in midfield, on the edge of the area. Jones managed to play it to Max Beswick, who had also come on at half time for Butterworth. The striker controlled well, shrugged off the defender’s challenge, and finished expertly into the bottom corner. United’s hard work had paid off, and a scalp was well and truly a possibility.

The solid defence stood strong, as did the rest of the team, and limited Central to only a handful of potentially dangerous moments. A counter attack could have resulted in the lead being extended, but Brown was wrongly adjudged to be offside.  Brown then had a chance at the far post after Wayne Archer played the ball across goal, but he couldn’t quite divert it into the net.

As the minutes ticked down, United were getting closer and closer to that final whistle. Centre back Ste Evans had been struggling with cramp throughout the second period, and the referee decided a change had to be made. With barely moments remaining, the heartbreak came. Having managed to repel nearly all dangerous crosses into the box, one came in from the left. This time, the ball couldn’t be cleared quickly enough, and Central centre back/makeshift striker Andy Binder managed to poke the ball beyond Hughes.

United had to quickly get over the setback, and make sure they didn’t lose the game, seeing out a few corners at the death. As the final whistle blew, the Streeters faced another penalty shootout against Central – this time it was United’s turn. The Division One champions elect scored all of their spot-kicks, but unfortunately Archer’s strike hit the underside of the bar, and bounced down the wrong side of the goal-line. Despite converting the rest of their penalties, that meant defeat for United.

It had been potentially the hardest possible draw, but KSB United so nearly got their names in the hat for the next round of the Cup. There are so many positives to take from the display, and the main aim of promotion from Division Three looks very much achievable.

Team:

13.   Josh Hughes (GK)
2.    Matt Gosnell (RB)
3.    Sam Lord (CB)
4.    Phil Argile (MC)
5.    Ste Evans (CB)
8.    Daven Argile (AMC) (c)
9.    Phil Butterworth (SC)
10.    Alex Marsh (MC)
11.    Wayne Archer (AML)
12.    Jonny Rigby (AMR)
16.    Scott Dew (LB)

Subs – 6. Matt Jones (MC), 7. Joel Brown (AMR), 14. Math Pickup (MC), 25. Max Beswick (SC)

Man of the match – Ste Evans