SOUTHERN AMATEUR VETS LEAGUE CUP QUARTER-FINAL
MLFC 0 WEST WICKHAM 1
But while their was controversy in the winning goal, the hosts really need to look closer to home for the real reason they missed out on a semi-final berth.
Playing with the wind in the opening half, they restricted Wickham to only the rarest of forays into Maccabi territory, but the conditions certainly aided to an inability to look after the ball and, with the visitors well organised at the back, it was no surprise clear chances were at a premium. There were plenty of crosses and shots, but the keeper wasn't really tested.
A half-time rocket seemed to have the desired effect, as despite now playing against the wind the hosts were far more patient and controlled in possession.
The powerful running of Jon Rayner combined well with Paul Allen, the latter stinging the keeper's hand. But a hamstring injury curtailed his afternoon and the loss of his direct running was a blow. But it remained one-way traffic. Mark Wagman broke clear but spurned the effort, Hadley Silver had three sights of goal in quick succession but couldn't find a way past the keeper, before a lung-busting run from his own half by Rayner saw his final strike go narrowly over. He then crossed for Lenchner but he headed just wide before a shot of his own brought out the best from the Wickham no. 1.
With the game heading towards extra-time, there was still only one side asking the questions, but the hosts were dealt a further blow when the Rolls Royce that is Danny Piler landed awkwardly and in some distress. Early indications suggest an ACL injury and we all wish Danny the speediest of recoveries.
As the MLFC team re-shuffled, Wickham worked the ball forward. The first ball was cleared but was returned from outside the box where the flick landed at the feet of one of the two Wickham players literally standing all alone in the six-yard box. Whilst the finish was smart, the player looked yards offside. The ref, 20 yards away and with no linesmen, dallied and seemed to give the offside before changing his mind and awarding the goal, amidst the strongest of protestations. MLFC were incredulous but there was nothing they could do.
With barely two minutes remaining they threw the ball forward but couldn't create the chance they needed.
A difficult day with the injuries and a hugely disappointing way to lose. But in reality, with their domination, it's an inward look that is required for the failure to take the semi-final berth that should have been theirs.
West Wickham however were dogged and disciplined throughout and earned the victory, and we wish them the very best of luck in the next round.
MLFC: Brad Lee, Jon Rayner, Danny Piler, Adam Myeroff, Guy Morris, Matt Kleinman, Bradley Lazarus, Alex Levack, Paul Allen, Mark Wagman, Paul Lenchner. Subs: Alex Norman, Hadley Silver, Dan Reuben