Eagles make hard work of Cup win
For 70 minutes of this cup tie there were few indications that either side were capable of winning the game on a heavy pitch at Pixmore. Totternhoe from the Spartan South Midlands league fielded a side packed with experienced players against an eagles team weakened by the absence of several key players this weekend.
In the first half the eagles had a couple of half chances, and after 15 minutes Eagles keeper Dan Goad had to push a daisy cutter from 20 yards round his right post. Sam Gittings almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time when he headed over from a cross into the penalty area when well placed to get it on target.Eagles struggled to make an impression on a heavy pitch against very physical opposition.
After half time the game began to increase in tempo with some attractive midfield play from the Eagles but no clear chances created. Gittings almost broke the deadlock after 53 minutes with a magnificent run down the centre of the field beating defenders with ease, but his final pass was just too far ahead of Krystian Malachak, who himself tricked his way through the Totternhoe defence a few minutes later only to shoot just wide of the goal.
Totternhoe then enjoyed a period of sustained pressure. Goad produced a flying save to deny them a goal from a volley heading towards the top corner of the net, and a few minutes later blocked a certain goal with his feet. The goal finally game after 70 minutes when a cross from the left was knocked into the net by a Totterhoe forward from about 10 yards out.
Eagles responded with the Totternhoe goal leading a charmed life at times. Shots whistled high and wide and the ball bobbled around the Totternhoe penalty area as they desperately defended their lead. They enjoyed a slice of luck almost on full time when the keeper spilled a shot from Mitchell Cox only for the ball go agonisingly behind the advancing Gittings just a few yards out from goal. From successive corners the ball was scrambled off the Totternhoe line a couple of times, but deep into injury time Gittings ran through the centre of the Totternhoe defence and finally placed the ball wide of the advancing keeper into the net.
No sooner had the two sides started extra time when Eagles went further ahead with a quick goal from Hunter Diack with a shot from 20 yards that bounced into the net off the chest of the hapless Totternhoe keeper, then a shot from Diack was palmed into the path of Gittings who made no mistake in slotting in his second.
Extra time proved to be the most exciting time of the match as both sides threw caution to the winds. After 10 minutes Totternhoe almost got their reward after a low shot went narrowly wide with Goad beaten but then the ball was played into the middle of the eagles penalty area for an unmarked Totternhoe no 9 to blast it into the net. 3-2 and not even half way through extra time!
Both sides had chances during the second period of extra time. Malachak volleyed over a cross from young sub Luke Shimell, making his debut for the first team, and then shot straight at the keeper who could only parry the ball, but no Eagles player was in a position to push the ball into the net before it was cleared . As Totternhoe pressed their last minute corner was blocked on the line by Eagles defenders and after a tremendous goalmouth scramble the ball was finally cleared upfield to safety as the final whistle blew.