Malin cash in against HSBC
By James Weatherall
The march to the final was complete as another top division side were dispatched by the SDFPL new boys.
After what had seemed like months since the Quarter Final we finally made the trip to Penistone Church FC to take on HSBC with a place in the final at stake.
With kick off scheduled for 19:30 it had been a long nervy day's wait to get under way. Everyone arrived on time apart from the over eager BROWNY who got there about 5 o'clock. After spending the majority of the season getting changed in car parks and sheds, it made a nice change getting a decent changing room to get prepared in, although given it was the semi's, it was a tight squeeze with a rarely seen full squad of 16.
The warm up dragged on a while which didn't really suit the laid back style of the majority of the squad. It seemed like an eternity before we returned to the dressing room to be given the team news and FERGIE's motivational team talk, which, on this occasion, was rudely cut short by the refs buzzer rather than everyone wandering off for a kickabout.
The starting 11 was the same as the side that strolled through the quarters with the only change being ASHBROWN holding their place up front in favour of early round cup hero JEPPO who was on the bench.
As happened the last time we had a lengthy warm up, we started off slowly. A combination of nerves and our ability to take a while to get into the swing of it led to the Bank having a few early chances, one of which forced a neat save from DAN who was alive to the danger. Thankfully, they didn't make the breakthrough.
With around 10 minutes played, the nerves were seemingly shaken off and the division 3A leaders started to impose themselves on the game. The forwards were starting to turn the opposition centre halves which led to some decent attacks and dangerous corners. Sadly for BROWNY, his game would be cut short when he pulled up with injury and he would be replaced by DEANO with barely a quarter of the game gone.
The change didn't seem to break the flow of the Malin and it would be from another dangerous corner where we took the lead. The tried and tested combination of GAV B and NATH came together again and the captain's header had enough power to make it through the defender on the post. 1-0.
HSBC seemed a little shaken by the goal and were struggling to get their main Ginger threat into the game. The blue tide continued with us getting a lot of joy all over the park, particularly down both wings where the full backs were being left exposed.
Despite the majority of play happening in the wide positions, it would be a ball down the centre which led to the next goal. An attempted through ball by JAMES was fluffed by their gangly centre half and it fell nicely to substitute DEANO. The slimmed down striker used his new found pace to break away from the defenders but with the pitch being on the bobbly side seemed to struggle to keep it under control. Just as the chance seemed to be slipping away the cup specialist found a neat finish as he volleyed it across the keeper. 2-0 and things were looking good.
Further chances were created, most notably for DEANO again who volleyed just wide and NATH whose header was cleared off the line. Unfortunately, no more goals were to be added before the break. It had been a good half and FERGIE was a happy man as he handed out his oranges.
Nobody really wanted to sit around for 15 minutes so we headed out early to get the game restarted. With the light now gone, the flood lights were turned on, although it wasn't really obvious with the 40W bulbs they'd seemingly used.
As was to be expected, the first division side came out ready for a game and pressed us early on. The game turned a bit scrappy which didn't really suit either side however, with the talent on show for the Malin, chances are never far away. Some neat play down the left found DEANO in space outside the 18 yard box but with his options limited, he bided his time until NATH bounded his way into the box. A tidy through ball was controlled by the big man who turned and slotted it home with his left boot. Although most thought the technique was slightly lacking, they were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept it was a nice finish. This was to prove misguided as he later admitted it was actually a cross... but who cares, it was 3-0.
As the game wore on, the Bank would start to get more into it. Our passing became more and more wayward and they started to go more direct in their attempts to get something to build on. A few hopeful punts over the top caused problems but DAVE and GAV were staying strong and kept the clean sheet in tact. This was until about 15 minutes from the end when the team in red pulled something out of absolutely nothing.
A ball out wide to their tall forward seemed to leave him with only an option of crossing it, however, he had other ideas. After doing almost nothing all game, he decided to take an almighty swing at it and much to everyone's amazement, it flew in off the underside to bring the deficit down to 2. It was barely deserved but it would lead to a nervy end to the game.
FERGIE made some changes to freshen up a weary looking Malin side. All of them had work to do to keep the score at 3-1 but that is the way it stayed, mainly thanks to a worldy save from DAN who somehow kept out a point blank effort from their young left winger. The late siege was over, the win and a place in the final was sealed.
There haven't been many more hard fought wins this season but everyone put a shift in to get us through. A colossal performance from HANSON rightly saw him crowned as Man of the Match.
Bring on the Trannies!!