Grange 6 v Menzieshill 3 (Cup quarter final)
By Kenny McNally
As holders of the Plate we knew how it felt to win a knock-out competition, but this was the Cup and we knew the standard of opposition would be high.
Having half the Development side available to boost the cup squad didn't appear to have much impact with most, understandably, being committed to their league game vs the Fives just before ours. However the 6s had turned out in force and despite a couple of late injuries we had a squad of 14, which was further boosted by Constable when the preceding game was cancelled.
We started really well and moved the ball confidently across the back and midfield. As expected the opposition was fit and fast and worked hard to close us down But we still managed to create a few chances with Max High working well up front and Daniel McIntosh building good possession from left back.
Gradually the opposition began to close us down and Bunker found it harder to "give them the eyes" to get the ball out from defence. Despite this there were few clear chances either way and it was scoreless at half time.
It was a better start to the second half and we got the upper hand as our larger squad gave us fresh legs while the opposition tired. So it was against the run of play when we conceded from a Penalty Corner. After that The Hill sat back a bit and gave us the chance to build up a spell of sustained pressure. Mark Campbell was a bundle of energy up front, reliving his performance in last year's final by making great runs at a speed that few could match.
We came close to the equaliser when Constable fed a great ball along the baseline, and Wiseman almost turned it in at the back post. Time was running out and in an apparent act of desperation the skipper pushed goal-machine Graham up front leaving us a bit exposed at the back. Would this prove to be a masterstroke by the captain? Nope. Would we get the goal we so deserved? Course we would.
A foul on McNally when he seemed destined to score/hit it wide/miss the ball (delete as appropriate) gave us only our second corner of the match but Bunker made no mistake and slammed the ball home for the equaliser.
We had a bit more pressure in the few minutes which were left but no real chances to win the match. I think most of the 'senior' players were quite happy hear that it was going to be decided by old-fashioned flicks instead of the new-fangled penalty dribble.
Up stepped Constable, McNally, Bunker, Campbell, and Wiseman.
Constable scored, they missed. Good Start.
McNally put the ball in the postage stamp, top right. To be honest it wan't meant to go quite that close to the post/bar, but don't tell anyone.
Bunker scored, still leading 3-2.
Campbell stepped up with the most unorthodox stance ever seen and unfortunately his teammates had good reason to be worried. Not an experiment that could be deemed a success! They scored to make it 3-3.
Wiseman stepped up next but his flick was well saved. Then Miller saved to keep us in the tie, somehow managing to avoid kicking the ball in after it squeezed between his pads and stopped on the line.
It was down to sudden death. They went first and Miller saved. Constable scored. We won.
So we have earned a place in the semi-final, possibly against the 3rd XI. If we go out with the same attitude and effort we will be a match for any side.