Sabden 5 – 6 Boars Head (aet FT 3-3)

CHRISTMAS CUP CRACKER AT THE BARN
Sabden 5 – 6 Boars Head (aet FT 3-3)

Sabden and Boars Head served up a Christmas Cracker of a cup tie at a rain-swept Nutter Barn on Sunday.

The first half was a case of “defences on top”, with Sabden skipper Ryan Graves in fine form at the back. There were several opportunities for both sides to open the scoring but stout defending and good goalkeeping kept the ball out.

The breakthrough came on the half hour, as Jason Bates picked up the ball on the right flank and powered down the wing. Approaching the byline, Bates clipped over a low cross and Zac Musker nipped in front of his marker and clipped in a fine finish at the near post.

Sabden began to turn the screw as Adam Fuller and debutant, James Duerden, pulled the strings in midfield. However, the Boars Head were not without a threat of their own and a left wing run on 40 minutes led to Graves pulling up sharply with a severe hamstring injury, which will keep the captain out until New Year.

Ben Dewhurst moved into the centre of defence to cover the departed Graves and Sol Islam came on at right back. Perhaps encouraged by the loss of Graves, Boars Head attacked the Sabden defence and only a fine fingertip save by Tom Diggins in the Sabden goal prevented an equaliser before the half-time whistle blew.

At around half time, the light rain turned into a deluge – and during the second half, as the pitch became more greasy, the players responded with a deluge of their own; one of GOALS !!!

A cagey first half skirmish turned into an end-to-end thriller, with both sides creating glorious opportunities to score, only to be denied by great saves or wayward finishes. On the hour, the impressive young Duerden was replaced by Jonny Heap. Heap partnered Paul Astin in attack, whilst David Fallon unselfishly dropped into midfield.

On 63 minutes, Boars Head scored an equaliser – however, almost from the restart, Sabden regained their lead, and what a strike. Taking a pass from Fuller, Fallon smote the ball from almost 40 yards and the ball sailed over the keepers head and into the back of the net to put Sabden 2-1 up.

The Boars charged back at Sabden, and on 68 equalised again; the ball skidding off the surface and squirming under the body of Diggins. Worse followed on 76 mins as the conditions made defending a lottery, and Boars Head took the lead for the first time in the tie.

However, once again Sabden hit straight back as Fallon fed Astin who steered home 77th minute equaliser. The game reached full time with both teams exhausted and facing 30 minutes of extra time.

Sabden were quick out of the blocks and warmed the keepers gloves twice, before Astin left his man for dead on the right flank on 95 minutes and crossed for an unmarked Jonny Heap to slam the ball home.

In keeping with the rest of the game, a fourth equaliser of the day was not long in coming, and on 99 minutes, it duly arrived.

As the heavy pitch took its toll on both sets of players, Boars Head found new spirit and goals in the 112th and 114th minute gave them a two goal advantage.

With time running out, the ball was played across the park towards left back David Kerrison. Kerrison smashed the ball fist time from 35 yards out and the ball seered into postage stamp corner. This was a goal worthy of winning any game, but sadly for Sabden it was to prove only a consolation – although Kerrison will be confident his name will be in the hat when the Goal of the Season awards are chosen.

It was a game that neither team deserved to lose, and all players should be proud of their performance.

GOALS
Musker (30), Fallon (64), Astin (77), Heap (95), Kerrison (116)

MAN OF THE MATCH
David Fallon – Scored a Worldie and showed why he was voted Player of the League last season. Well done Sausage!