Portslade faced a strong Saint Hill team on freezing Easter Saturday at the cauldron of fire that is Talbot Road. Spanish Crab Matt Hornsby dropped down to the reserve team to help guide them to a famous semi-final victory over BBOB. In stepped the returning "Pompey Animal" Richard Scott with Kevin Balcombe advancing into midfield.
The dressing room was dominated by Geordies. No, not wannabe-Geordie Mat Collins and Slade legend (cough) Mick Jordan but PJ and Duncan. Sean Trend shook the Talbot Road foundations with Lets Get Ready to Rumble. Luckily Richard Scott refused to be PJ to Petal's Duncan in a proposed duet for the end of season award ceremony!
The gaffer also altered the formation to 4-1-3-2 which included a tight midfield and Jacob Everett playing alongside Karl Boffey. The game started off spritely with chances appearing at both ends. Both defences were caught napping several times early on which led to quite an entertaining opening period. jacob Everett went the closest after hitting the base of the post after a woeful kick out from the goalkeeper.
The breakthrough came for Saint Hill in the 32nd minute. A long throw was launched towards the corner of the 6 yard box and a Saint Hill player managed to flick a back header over a stranded Rich Smith. 0-1 !
Shortly after the goal the gaffer switched back to the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation and it reaped rewards. Good build up play found Nathan Cook in the last third. He played an incisive pass through to Boff who lobbed the on-rushing goalkeeper in the 41st minute. Great finish by the big man. His 17th of the season. 1-1
This season Slade have had a real problem conceding goals from set pieces and on the stroke of half-time. It therefore comes as no surprise to tell you what happened in stoppage time! A whipped-in cross from a corner was bundled into the net from 4 yards out. 1-2 to Saint Hill Half-time.
The gaffer had some strong words at half-time and Slade went out rejuvenated. Only five minutes into the second period and it was all level. The famous swivel of the hips again from Nathan Cook gave Nozinhio heart palpitations and Karl Boffey the chance to add his second from the spot. The big man was cool and calm again and slipped the ball low into the net. 2-2
Both teams pressed for the win and it looked like it was going to finish all square. Even the introduction of The Magician didn't bring a goal despite having a good chance. However, in the 85th minute the industrious Jacob Everett went on a blistering run down the left hand side. He passed the ball dangerously across the 6 yard line. Boff sniffed his hat-trick chance. Sniffed his 19th of the season. He wanted it. Needed it. Dreamt it. He took the ball on his instep, twitched, then unleashed a rising pile-driver that rebounded into the net via the underside of the bar. Cracking finish and Jubilant celebrations ensued! 3-2 to Slade.
Man of the Match was Karl Boffey who was lethal in from of goal. Special mentions to Nathan Cook for his 2 assists, Jacob Everett's tireless running and Kevin Balcombe who won everything in the centre of the park.
Team: 1. Smith 2. Collins 3. Larkham 4. Weir 5. Scott 6. Trend (c) 7. Cook, N 8. Balcombe 9. Boffey 10. Sutton 11. Everett SUBS 12: Munsarum