I still believe, says Conway
JC MSFL DIVISION TWO
BLIZZARD STORM 2 SPEC FC 3
SPEC FC boosted their promotion hopes with Daniel Pike, James Lesner and David Newman steering Laurence Conway's troops to their 11th win of the season in a thriller against Blizzard.
A combination of wind and Blizzard caused SPEC all sorts of problems in a fascinating match at the Cinderella Hairena as Newman once again showed his class to earn promotion-chasing SPEC a vital three points.
In a first half made all the more interesting by the heavy wind, Blizzard Storm certainly got out of the blocks the quicker and found themselves 1-0 up after 20 minutes. An incisive through ball cut open a half-asleep SPEC back line before Dan Simons rounded Dan ‘DC’ Cohen to tap into the empty net.
At the other end, SPEC couldn’t seem to get their passing game going and captain Ashley Burns, returning after a one-game ban, had the home-sides best effort in curling a shot just wide after neat build up play between Murray and Lesner on the left. The only other incident of note in an unremarkable first half saw a dog enter the field of play just short of the half chiwahour mark.
During the half time interval, SPEC’s first team coach and stand-in manager Doug Berlin gave his players a public dressing down before sending them onto the pitch early to sort their act out between them. Berlin’s firm words combined with a tactical reshuffle to 3-5-2 seemed to have a profound effect on the Bananas who finally got their equlaliser in 65th minute. Newman drove forward from midfield, cut in from the left and squared to Dan Pike who rattled home a shot in off the bar and post to equalise.
And just two minutes after the re-start, Newman’s tricks were again causing havoc. This time he took on two men before being hauled down in the box. From the resulting penalty, Lesner drove the ball into the bottom left corner, despite the keeper guessing the right way.
Ten minutes later, Newman got the goal his second half performance deserved. Receiving a precise pass from Murray and jinking past two again, including a cheeky nutmeg, the mercurial midfielder then dinked a cute shot over the advancing keeper.
Fan favourites Ashley Lawrence and James Segal both came on for SPEC in the closing stages much to the crowds delight. Though the Bananas made hard work of what should have been a comfortable finale when conceding a bullet header of a goal from Simons from a cross having failed to clear a corner properly in the 80th minute.
Goal-scorer-come-goalkeeper Dan Pike went in goal for last 10 minutes and brilliantly denied a last-minute blizzard header diving low to his right to push the goalbound effort away and that was the final piece of action in a dramatic second half which saw SPEC gain an ugly but crucial three points.
SPEC defender James Lesner said: “Credit to Blizzard who played some excellent football and made it very difficult for us. This wasn’t our best performance but some individual brilliance and fighting spirit saw us through.”
Absent Manager Laurence Conway tweeted: “Well done to my boys @SPEC_FC for grinding out another win today. Three more of those to go. See where that takes us. I believe.”
Dan Simons bagged a brace for Blizzard, including the opener - a lead they held until the 70-minute mark.
Blizzard boss Simon Linden told JC Sport: "It was a much better performance, improving on recent weeks. We are up against it and the weeks are running out, but I'm fully confident we can stay in this league."