On Thursday 6th October, Brook Field won a nerve jangling Swindon PSFA Cup match against Grange and maintained their 100% start to the season. The match finished 2 – 2, after extra time before Brook Field prevailed 4 – 3 on penalties.
Following a horrendous journey across Swindon due to the traffic, the third consecutive away match kicked-off at 4:05pm. We knew it was going to be a tough, close and even match as all our matches against Grange have proved to be.
Grange kicked-off and we had Max in goal, Sam (capt) and Rhys in defence, Harvey, Finn (recovering from illness), Josh in midfield and Jamie up front. Ollie, Samuel and Louis were the substitutes. Grange applied the early pressure and won two throw-ons in quick succession, which were a dangerous weapon for them. Both throws were long and into the danger area. Brook Field defended these set pieces as well as Liverpool FC are currently but managed to escape without conceding a goal. Brook Field managed to survive the early danger, found their feet and started to take the game to Grange with Jamie having two good chances that went wide including a strong shot from the left hand side of the area.
Within four minutes, however, Grange had gone ahead. There was hesitation in the heart of the defence between Sam and Max. Sam thought Max was going to come and collect or clear the ball and got caught on the back foot, allowing the Grange player to run onto the long clearance and finish into the corner past a stationary Max! 1 - 0.
This set back only seemed to galvanise Brook Field into greater effort and we battled hard to get back into the game. Finn threaded the ball through to Jamie who poked wide and another shot from Jamie was blocked for a corner. A Brook Field throw on was sliced back to the ‘keeper by a Grange defender but his clearance could have gone anywhere. Jamie had a good shot saved.
Eventually, we managed to find an equaliser with 8 minutes of the game gone. Harvey was just about to be substituted when he poked home from close range with the goalkeeper having no time to react. 1 - 1. Ollie still came on but for Josh instead of Harvey! He immediately showed his midfield terrier instincts by winning the possession back after having lost the ball moments earlier and set off down the left wing.
12 minutes in though and Grange went ahead. They won a corner on the left. The corner flew over everybody in the middle of the box to a completely unmarked Grange player about six yards out just beyond the back post. His stooping header flew into the net with Max having no chance. 2 - 1.
Samuel was swapped on for Jamie and Louis came on for Harvey as we looked to get straight back into the game again. With about 5 minutes to go to half time, Ollie had a storming run down the left wing and crossed along the ground into the centre of the box. Finn timed his run to perfection, arriving from midfield and crashed his left foot shot into the far corner. 2 - 2.
Brook Field finished the half on top and had a couple of promising breaks either side of a great defensive block by Sam when it looked certain Grange would restore their advantage. The first break saw a great combination of passes and one-twos between Ollie and Samuel and the second one again saw a precise, one-touch passing move between Samuel, Finn and Ollie.
Brook Field kicked off the second half and immediately had an excellent chance to go ahead for the first time in the match. A great cross from the right wing soared over everyone towards Samuel and Ollie completely unmarked in the middle. The ball arrived at Ollie’s feet, storming in at the far post. He took one touch to control the ball and knock it onto his right foot and the ‘keeper was closing down the angle at the back post. A shot back across the goal or a sideways pass to Samuel would probably have done the trick but the ball bobbled as the shot was taken and it flew harmlessly over the bar.
After 10 minutes of the second half, wholesale changes were made with Harvey, Josh and Jamie returning for Ollie, Louis and Samuel. Max then made an important save right on the edge of the penalty area. The Grange striker had been put in one on one with a lobbed pass over the top of the midfield and defence. As the Grange player bore down on goal, Max rushed out to the edge of his area and managed to stretch out a hand as the striker tried to chip the ball past him. An identical attack happened minutes later and again Max was quickly out to distract the striker. This time Max made no contact with the shot but the effort curled wide – Max had done enough to put the attacker off although they both collided once the shot had been released. Finn broke away to win a corner before Max made another good save. Despite these chances for Grange, Brook Field were arguably on top in terms of possession and clearer chances being created. A good passing move down the Brook Field right resulted in another corner for the away team. It was a pinpoint accurate corner from Josh and Rhys managed to twist his neck around enough to make contact…but it came off the side of his head and dropped inches wide of the upright.
With five minutes to go, Jamie hit a shot over the bar; a long throw and firm header produced a good save from the Grange ‘keeper on the line and as the defenders scrambled to clear their lines, the ball dropped to Jamie who hit it over from three yards out!
So into five minutes each way of extra time. Grange kicked off and Ollie came on for Finn who had not been well the day before and looked to be tiring. Ollie and Josh combined well in a good attack. Ollie followed this up with some great play to win the ball back and feed Jamie but he shot wide.
In the second half of extra time, Ollie fed Jamie again but this shot also went wide. Josh had a good run down the right and Samuel won a corner. Finn and Louis came back on for the last two minutes as they were willing to take penalties. Brook Field had a chance to win the match with the last kick of the game but again the chance wasn’t taken and penalties loomed.
Five penalties each side. Max saved the first two Grange penalties as they were hit straight at him. Harvey and Sam scored our first two penalties hitting their shots into the bottom left of the goal, the goalie’s right. If Grange missed the third and we scored, then we would win but Grange scored and Samuel dragged his penalty just wide of the left upright (ie the same direction as our first two penalties) with the ‘keeper well beaten.
Grange scored their last two penalties and it was finger biting time as Rhys put his penalty away, before Finn strode forward and calmly sent the 'keeper the wrong way and buried it in the back of the net. Wild celebrations followed but also a healthy respect for the Grange team who had come so close and pushed us all the way.
An exciting, close game played in a very sporting and excellent manner – so credit to both teams and all the players.
Well done to Max, Sam C, Rhys, Louis, Harvey, Jamie, Finn, Samuel, Oliver and Josh. Thanks to Mr Parsons for his support and all the parents who were very encouraging towards both teams.
We may have a tournament next Wednesday at LPA and then should be playing Millbrook the week after. However, this league fixture will have to be played later in the season due to Parents’ Evenings and School discos.