Report by Steve Price
The last 16 of the County Cup and Chi were looking for a very different performance and result to last week's. The mood and work-rate in training on Friday evening had been excellent so there was every reason to think Chi would be 'up for this'. Last week Chi had started slowly and by the time the team had begun to get going the game had been lost, therefore a good start today was important and the boys duly delivered.
From the off Chi were at their opponents but it was immediately obvious that these were two well-matched teams. Going forward both sides looked dangerous but it was Chi who got off to a flyer, Bennetts and Price combining to set up Good. The left-back hit a calculated high curler which looped over the 'keeper and in. Great start and only 5 minutes gone. A few minutes later it was two, Bennetts again at the heart of the move, linking with Peyman who pulled it back to Price who produced a nice left foot finish to double the lead. Chi were playing some good stuff and being rewarded for movement, thought and communication all so much more positive than that of the previous week.
Daley and Gallop were providing an industrious base to the midfield freeing up Leonard and Peyman to attack down the flanks, and these two were using the width splendidly. Chi's third was the result of a good team move which found Bennetts hugging the right bi-line. He whipped over a low, bouncing cross which Price converted confidently from the 6-yard box. A lovely finish to a super move. 3-0 but St Francis weren't out of it. On the half hour the visitors got in a shot from the edge of the box, Thorn managed to save with his feet but he couldn't stop the rebound. In response, Chi won a corner, Simmons met the cross with a header but it dropped short of the goal, Leonard reacted quickly but couldn't steer it in.
St Francis were stirring in to life, encouraged by their goal and by some free kicks that they were winning in midfield. The momentum was theirs as the half drew to a close. A free kick from all of 30 yards was well struck but Thorn got down nimbly to tip it round the post. Regaining possession they attacked down their right flank from where the winger launched a probing cross in to the Chi area. The attackers weren't picked up as they should have been and ghosting in at the back of the box the Rangers lad guided his finish in to the gaping net. It had been a great 40 minutes of football, in which Chi had been terrific for long periods, but it's fair to say that for the home side the break was coming at a good time.
The important thing now was for Chi to stabilise the game, snuff out the away team's momentum and then to push on themselves; the first 10 minutes would be key. It was soon apparent that Chi had successfully regrouped and were now looking the greater threat. Throughout the game the home side had had the edge in the air and within 5 minutes of the re-start Simmons went close with headers, once from a Daley corner and then from Good's free-kick.
When it came Chi's fourth goal was beautifully executed but was also a bit of an oddity. Martin, in the number 10 role, controlled a clearance nonchalantly with his backside - I don't think he knew much about it! Finding the ball at his feet he looked up and delightfully lobbed the 'keeper, great quick thinking and a goal that practically put the game to bed. Rangers did their best to get forward but, inevitably as they sought a way back in to the game, it left opportunities for Chi. Brennan bombed forward in to just such a space and was rewarded with a corner for his efforts. Daley's cross hung on the edge of the 6 yard box where Robinson rose like Gordon McQueen (YouTube lads) and powered it home with the meat of his forehead - a super goal.
So, ultimately a comfortable victory but it had been a good, competitive game. Chi can be well satisfied with the way they picked themselves up from last week and can now look forward to a quarter final match. Well played boys.
Team: Thorn, Good, Robinson, Simmons, Brennan, Daley, Gallop, Leonard, Bennetts (c), Peyman, Price, Martin.
Man of the Match: Price