What a game of Football!

There’s no doubt  Smestow Year 11 have talented footballers, but in a game that had plenty of twists and turns, joy and frustration; this performance was the most spirited I’ve witnessed and took part in, writes Alex Vukelic in cold and rainy conditions on Smestow football field.

However, in the opening stages of the match we didn’t look a talented bunch, lacking lustre and looking intimidated.

Smestow have shown their capabilities in a football game many a time, but here in the opening stages of the game we didn’t showcase our finest football at all. Coincidently, it didn’t take long for UTC to gain a 1-0 advantage when the ball landed to one of their attackers in the 18 yard box; who finished low-in to the corner of the goal. Despite the fact that Smestow were poor in this first half, we more than matched our opposition in ability; but we couldn’t quite get that goal we so desperately wanted.

Before you could blink they had a second. Some poor defending from Smestow led to the ball failing to be cleared and it was passed across to a Blue shirt, and hit well into the back of the net.
We went into half time 0-2 down.

What strong and resilient team goes into the second half thinking they can’t win a game from 0-2 down? I can’t think of one.

Mr Spence gave us an energetic and rejuvenating team talk at half-time insisting we shouldn’t be beaten, and what followed next was astonishing.

Thanks to Lewis Gilpin, we had ourselves a goal back after he slotted convincingly past the UTC goalkeeper. Still 1-2 down, but the feeling of a comeback was sitting in the back of the minds’ of everyone in attendance. Unfortunately I had to go off the pitch, midway through the second half, with cramp in my calf and the problem was determined to stay for the remainder of the game. Once more that man, Lewis Gilpin, was on hand to produce the goods to make it  2 -2 and – despite a comeback  being easily possible once it happened – I don’t think many could believe it. With a mix of emotions basking in the air it was the Smestow lads buzzing with joy. There wasn’t much more to note in that second-half but the fact that Smestow were in control of the game, and not one UTC player seemed like they wanted the ball. All the same, regular time ended 2-2 with extra-time on the way.

In the first half of extra-time, Saroop Raiyat bended a free kick into the penalty  area and the opportunity to clear the ball was missed by UTC players allowing the Captain Leo Martin to latch on to the ball and score, to make it 3-2 to Smestow which sent everybody into raptures.

We thought we had clinched the game and secured a place for definite in round 2 of the cup but it wasn’t to be in that fashion anyway. With virtually the last kick of extra time, UTC levelled to make it 3-3 and penalties became the final destination of the day.

Thanks to Lewis Gilpin and Saroop Raiyat (again), with their spectacular penalties, our Goalkeeper Will Casey who produced some brilliant saves and lastly our coach Mr Spence, who led and managed the team well, despite being on refereeing duty! A 2-1 victory on penalties and we as a team all look forward to the next round of the competition!

Written by Alex Vukelic: Year 11