Surrey County Cup
Keens Park Rangers 3 Virginia Water 3 (Virginia Water won 6-5 on penalties)
Goals: Courage Moda, Lucas Atkin, Dan Way
Man-of-the-match: Josh Downes
KPR looked to have rediscovered their mojo this week. But it wasn’t enough to get through to the next round of the County Cup.
Although depleted by injuries (Bruce still laid up. And Rob, as suspected, will be missing for at least six weeks), the return of Luke Mitchell up top, and captain Woods Jnr, was encouraging as manager Gary re-shuffled his players positions. It seemed to work wonders as well, as KPR dominated the opening exchanges.
Woodsy in particular hit the ground running and it was a delicious checked pass to Courage that led to the opening goal after the latter cut inside the defender and slotted the ball inside the far post with his left foot.
There seemed to be plenty more where that came from as KPR’s passing remained slick with Luke forcing a very strong save from the opposition’s keeper from the edge of the box. The duo found themselves up against each other moments later after good play from Courage found Simmo in the box. Although a good opportunity itself, Simmo’s scuffed shot then created an even better chance for Luke inside the six yard box, but he placed his shot within arms reach and the opportunity was gone.
Man-of-the-match Josh was showing some great play down the left, but as much as KPR were in the ascendancy a combination of wasteful shooting and complacency proved costly before the end of the half after possession was too easily sacrificed. That said, the forward had a lot to do with what looked to be an overhit pass, but he somehow got his foot around the ball giving Kieran in goal no chance as the ball snuck in off the near post.
If KPR got worse as the half went on, the break – on another ridiculously hot day for the time of year – clearly did them some good, and they began the second half as they had the first. Doug, as usual, was very lively and he set Bulldog free with a well weighted pass only for his shot to go wide.
Courage was still a threat. And he showed great anticipation and speed in gathering a loose ball and bursting into the box. The shot was certainly on but he did the unselfish thing in squaring the ball to Bulldog except a bobble off the pitch resulted in the ball soaring over the bar.
Bulldog’s spirit wasn’t broken, however, and he created another chance for himself that, this time, he struck sweetly only for the keeper to make another strong save. And yet, his efforts were to no avail as the ball bounced off the crossbar for substitute Lucas to nod in from one yard.
It was probably a fair reflection on the play at that stage, only for fatigue / complacency to set in once again. The opposition may not have been creating the chances KPR were, but they were resilient and they drew level with a very good free kick that left Kieran a spectator.
Although penalties were now a distinct possibility, the game experienced something of an emotional rollercoaster in the last few minutes. There was also a modicum of humour as substitute Watto went into a full-blooded block tackle. Nowt especially funny in that. But he then found time to rearrange his specs before challenging a second time for the elusive ball.
It amused me anyway. And the KPR supporters’ needed a sense of humour as they fell behind for the first time in the match with only minutes of injury time left. Indeed, the manner of the goal was kinda comical as a fluffed header from the opposition’s centre forward looked like it would be easily cleared by Reece on the line were it not for another irregular bounce that he only succeeded in helping over the line.
All over surely? Except there was one last chance after Bulldog was fouled some 25 yards from goal. After his heroics of a couple of weeks ago, Watto may have been called upon, but it was fellow substitute Dan Way who ensured we got penalties after all with a delicious strike that gave the keeper no chance.
Were it not the Cup, a draw would have been a fair result. But there had to be a winner on the day. With one miss each, it went to sudden death, with Woodsy stepping up. While your humble correspondent and bar manager Chainy predicted (as anyone would) it’d be a lovely clean strike, the sad fact it struck the post so cleanly the ball nearly ended up back at the halfway line.
Equally predictably the next penalty was scored to exuberant celebrations among the visitors. Sadly, for them, we don’t stock champagne behind the bar, but they seemed happy with Peroni and crisps and a possible visit to Battersea Ironsides in the next round. You are most welcome gents.