HERTS SENIOR CENTENARY TROPHY SEMI FINAL
Eagles triumph over local rivals in penalty shoot out
Both sides had chances to win the game in normal and extra time before keeper Dan Goad became the Eagles hero scoring the 10 th penalty and saving 4 of the Baldock penalties to give a hard earned victory to Letchworth.
For the first quarter of an hour neither side created a clear cut goal scoring chance as each side tested the opposition defences . Eagles did not create an attempt on goal until 25 minutes when a Mitch Cox free kick was pushed wide of a post by the Baldock keeper Nicky Stillwell. He then had to go down to gather a low shot from Shane Carthy which lacked the power to beat the keeper.
On 30 minutes Eagles almost got the first goal when Sam Gittings controlled a long pass from Paul Morris to blast the ball towards the top corner of the Baldock net from an acute angle about 10 yards out, but Stillwell made an excellent save to push the ball over the crossbar..
Despite increased Eagles pressure it was Baldock who scored first after 35 minutes when a shot from just inside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off an Eagles defender into the far corner of the net well beyond the reach of the keeper. Baldock nearly got a second a few minutes later when they shot just wide of a post from the edge of the penalty after a quick break down the centre gave a clear shot on goal.
Eagles responded with a goal just before half time when John Coley latched on to the ball from 6 yards and coolly lobed it over the head of the advancing keeper into the net with a chasing Baldock defender unable to reach the ball in time to clear it off the line. Soon after a cross from the right by Gittings was hit low for the corner of the net by Cox but was blocked by a covering defender to deflect it away for a corner.
Baldock started the second half brightly and Jack Gregson shot over the cross bar with Eagles defenders failing to cut out a low cross from the right. After 55 minutes Morris broke clear on the left but his goal bound shot was deflected by a defender for a corner. Play swung from end to end and Baldock seemed certain to score when defender David Locke was outpaced chasing a ball down the centre but keeper Dan Goad made a good save to gather the ball on the edge of the penalty area as the Baldock forward tried to loft it over his head.
In a spell of Eagles pressure in the last 15 minutes Carthy broke clear on the left but shot over the top of the Baldock crossbar, and sub Anthony Geary hit the crossbar with a cross cum shot from at least 30 Yards out which dipped late.
In extra time both teams had their chance to win the game. For the Eagles a Carl Williams direct free kick dipped just over the Baldock crossbar and Goad had to stop a low shot from the penalty spot which lacked sufficient power to find the Eagles net. In the second half of extra time Eagles thought they had won the game when a clever pass from Coley was swept into the net by Gittings from just inside the penalty area, only for it to be ruled out for offside. Baldock responded and should have scored when a cross from the left was headed straight into arms of Goad.
The game then went to penalties . Eagles scored with their first four through Cox, Gittings, Den Crook, and Geary, and Baldock. Baldock did likewise but their 4th penalty was saved by Goad. Eagles regular penalty taker Carl Williams then stepped up to score the winning goal, buthis shot was well saved by Stilwell!. Eagles then scored with the 6th and 7th penalties taken by Eagles man of the match Ricky Small and Sam Williams, and Baldock did likewise. By now the tension was becoming unbearable. Goad saved Baldock’s 8th and 9th penalties but Stillwell made brilliant stops to do the same for Eagles penalties by Carthy and Locke. It was then all down to a duel between the two keepers who used to play together at youth level. Goad saved a weak penalty from Stilwell and then became the super hero by lashing his own penalty into the corner of the net giving Stillwell no chance.