HKL NMU19L Mini Shield Semi Final
at the Swall Siro, Rotherham Road, Swallownest
Swallownest (0) 0
Dunkirk (1) 2
Pierce Bird 7, Adrian Lang 85
Admission £2. Programme 50p. Coffee... thanks Mark!
Jack Hood, William Hague, Chris Hudson, Luke Kocura (Dale Featherstone 74), Jack Leitch (Jakob Rickards 58), Steve Nettleship, Junior Gama, Oliver Lawrence, Connor Green (C), Josh Lill, Josh Billson (Callum Mounsey 74)
Subs - all used
Jacob Clarke, Oliver Robinson, Joel Howes (Ryan Howes 42), Oliver Clark, Toby Moore, Pierce Bird, Kylan Knight, McKenna Parton, Adrian Lang, Sam Harbottle, Ellis Read
Unused subs - 12 Arvin Gangi, 15 Ravern Jackson, 16 Sam Osborne
Defending high up the pitch, the visitors rigidly set about containing the game into the 'Swall' half as much as possible.
Adrian Lang's deep cross was cleared at the expense of a corner after seven minutes and Pierce Bird headed Dunkirk in front from Kylan Knight's kick.
At this point, you might have feared for the home side, with the Nottingham based club looking fairly ominous, but it was the 'Boatmen' who had a bit of a let off around the fifteen minute mark, when Josh Lill rattled a 25 yard free kick from out on the left flank against their upright and Ollie Lawrence was only a whisker away from connecting with the rebound.
McKenna Parton took on the responsibility of taking a fee kick just outside Swallownest's area, but he bent it like (Victoria) Beckham and curled the ball harmlessly over the target.
Sam Harbottle tested Hood, but the extremely busy keeper kept the ball out. Hood had a string of free kicks, crosses and corners to deal with tonight and did very well over the course of the game.
|"Jesus wept. How big!?"|
Knight delivered another good corner into the box and Ollie Clark got up above the 'Swall' defence but headed the ball over the bar.
The Dunkirk defence squeezed tight and broke down an attack before a loooong ball was launched over the top of the home side's midfield and defence for Adrian Lang to run onto, but Hood had spotted the danger early and raced out of his box to launch a clearance far away into the night sky.
Junior Gama showed his gigantic marker a clean pair of heels, with a great bit of trickery and combined with Willaim Hague to win a corner. Josh Billson delivered a slide rule ball to Lill, but an eight foot tall defender (an approximation on my part) got above him and headed the ball away.
Steve Nettleship and William Hague, both did well to block two Dunkirk efforts from, once again, a Knight corner kick, before Sam Harbottle headed a third effort past the post.
Just before the break Billson threatened Jacob Clarke's goal, but with the keeper at full stretch, his shot skimmed just over top of the goal.
HT: Swallownest 0 v Dunkirk 1
'Swall' took a while to get to grips with the opposition, but looked more comfortable towards the end of the first half, but they probably had Jack Hood to thank for only being a goal behind at the half way point.
Ryan Howes raced down the left wing, but Nettleship got across quickly to get a foot in and prevent a cross... a second goal now for Dunkirk would be a hammer blow for their hosts. But 'Swall' were putting up a real scrap.
Pierce Bird was booked for a bad challenge on Jack Leitch in the middle of the pitch and moments later Nettleship was also cautioned for pushing Bird away as he menacingly moved towards his victim in a confrontational manner.
Leitch, the Swallownest captain, would play no further part in tonight's game, which meant his defensive sidekick Nettleship would have to cover even more ground, while Edwards had no option but to drop a striker, Mark Lill back into defence. Hardly ideal when you're already a goal behind in a knockout tournament.
Billson charged after the ball down the left wing and the referee's view was obscured as Kinight crashed into him and shoved him off the pitch. Match officials are only human, just like the rest of us.
Lang should have put the game out of Swallownest's reach, but Hood pulled of a double reflex save to deny the Boatmen's striker twice... I think we have a man of the match winner!
A poor defensive clearance inside the Dunkirk area fell to Gama, his path to goal was crowded out so he quickly and unselfishly laid the ball sideways to Featherstone, but he had to hurry his shot and knocked the ball wide.
Dunkirk were living dangerously for a while, while they still only had a one goal cushion and they almost came unstuck when Ollie Lawrence hit a shot on the turn that wasn't too far away from finding the net.
Swallownest knew it was do or die time and were piling forward.
Chris Hudson, who had guarded his left back berth well all night, took the throw in quickly to Gama, who was dumped on the ground by a big bully almost twice his size.
Lill fired a dipping free kick over the defensive wall, that Clarke could only parry to Lawrence who stabbed the ball over the bar, with challenges raining in all around him.
With the home side throwing everything they could muster at their Notts visitors, they were always vulnerable to a counter attack, but Nettleship dealt with Lang in the centre circle and 'Swall' switched into attacking mode again.
Callum Mounsey battled for the ball in midfield, dispossessed Knight and played a pass forward to Green, who evaded a tackle and knocked the ball wide to Gama, but his cross was cleared.
With just five minutes to go, Lang sprinted up the field, chasing another loooong ball towards Hood's goal with Hudson tracking him shoulder to shoulder, the Dunkirk striker just reached the ball first and toe poked it past the 'Swall' keeper to clinch the win for the visitors.
FT: Swallownest 0 v Dunkirk 2
Good luck to Dunkirk (and their supporters who made the trip) in the final, they travelled to South Yorkshire with a game plan in mind and stuck to it, played to their strengths and withstood an attempted late comeback by a Swallownest side who couldn't have given any more than they did on the night.
All in all, a great advert for the HKL Development League.
Well played to both teams.
I'll see some of you next Wednesday night ;-)