LOUGHTON MANOR 1 LETCHWORTH GC EAGLES 1 AET SCORE AT FT 0-0 EAGLES WIN 4-2 ON PENALTIES
Eagles missed chances and finally triumphed between evenly matched sides in an uninspiring cup semi final, thanks to 2 penalty saves by keeper Paul McGennity.
The home side applied constant pressure in the early stages of the game and were unlucky not to go ahead after 10 minutes when a shot from the edge of the penalty area rattled the eagles crossbar . Eagles gradually started to impose themselves on the game and after 20 minutes Sam Gittings was put clear on goal but dragged his shot wide of the far post from the left side of the penalty area.. Soon after he again broke clear of defenders after an excellent close passing move, but shot high and wide form 12 yards. Eagles almost went ahead before half time when a rapid passing move between Gittings and Carl Williams looked as if a clear chance would be created, but the final pass was intercepted.
After half time Gittings was again unlucky not to find the target with a lobbed shot from edge of penalty area which just cleared the crossbar, before Eagles keeper McGennity came to the rescue with 2 excellent saves first to stop a low shot from 25 yards at the foot of his post and then a blocking save at the feet on the onrushing Loughton forward. Eagles sent on Kadeem Gutzmore to add pace up front for the last part of the game and he repeatedly unsettled the home defence when running at defenders. He outpaced three defenders only for the keeper to block the ball at the foot of his post. First Gittings then Sam Day failed to make contact with a low cross from the left which fizzed across the Loughton goal area, and the game finished without either team managing to score the all important goal.
In extra time the game opened up and both teams had chances to find a winning goal. Loughton skied a good chance high and wide and then Charlie Thake was put clear by Day but could not get the ball on to his favourite left foot and ended up shooting just wide from 8 yards. After half time Gutzmore raced clear but was unable to properly control the ball on the slippery surface and scuffed his shot. He soon repeated the move but this time his low shot brought an excellent save by the home keeper to deflect the ball wide of goal.
In the last 5 minutes Eagles got the goal they deserved when Gutzmore bundled the ball into the net from close range at the second attempt off a defender, after connecting with a low cross into the goal area by Gittings. Eagles joy was short lived because the home side stormed to the other end of the pitch and took advantage of defensive suicide by Jamie Platt and David Locke who failed to clear the ball on the edge of the goal area, to shoot into the net from close range.
In the penalty shoot out Eagles marksmen Gittings, Thake, Ryan Ellis and Platt all scored emphatically and McGennity pulled off two saves to take Eagles into the final against British Airways.