Temperature: 10 degrees. Soggy.
Slade looked to put four winless games behind them against Premier League team Balcombe.. With Lewis Summer failing a pre-match fitness test Dave Goffin secured his place back in the starting XI. Back came Nathan Cook in place of a fatigued Karl Boffey who took a breather on the bench. In treacherous conditions Slade took to the field looking to atone for previous results.
It only took 4 mins for the games opening goal. Excellent play by the Balcombe winger to get to the byline and he lobbed in a delicate cross which was headed home easily by a grateful striker. 0-1 !
Slade weathered the early pressure and were soon level. Fourteen minutes on the clock and Veenage Munsarum fed Nathan Cook on the corner of the 18 yard box. Psycho feigned to go right, then cut on his left, before sending a thunderous shot into the corner of the net. Great goal. 1-1 !
With 29 minutes on the clock a dangerous Veenaye Munsarum chased down a slightly long through ball. He poked it past the keeper before being taken out. A definite penalty kick and most likely a red card - if judging by our game v Copthorne earlier in the season was anything to go by. Unfortunately the referee only brandished a yellow card and gave Slade a free-kick after he adjudged the infringement to be outside the box. That didn't deter Sean Trend though as the whipped in the resulting free-kick (albeit via slight deflection) into the corner of the net. Petals third in three games. 2-1
With our three flair players (Jacob Everett, Sean Trend and Nathan Cook) causing damage and feeding a hungry Veenaye Munsarum it looked like Slade would extend their lead even further, but a mixture of great keeping and poor finishing kept the score at 2-1 with moments to go in the first half.
Unforunately, Slade didnt't manage to hold until half-time. A Balcombe striker got free on our left hand side and fired in a powerful shot which stuck in the stanchion. Great finish. 2-2. The game was evenly poised at half-time. This cup tie was there for the taking. Who would step up?
In the 52 minute Rich Smith went down for his usual per-game medical treatment. As the physio ran on, he thought: "I've already been on this game; it might well be serious this time!". And it turned out to be true as Rich retired early with a shoulder injury. Luckily Rob Johsnton was on the bench due to the second team having no game. On he came despite pleas to put some shorts on before he entered the field!
The game was at stalemate but still looked like a goal was coming. In the 70th minute Balcombe retook the lead. This time they got in on our right hand side and luckily shot between the unfortunate Rob Johnston's legs. 2-3!
With time running out The Gaffer decided to throw caution to the wind and play 4-4-2. Off came last weeks MOM Neil Shelley and on came under-the-weather Karl Boffey. What an inspired sub it turned out to be as The Boffs first touch was to side-foot home deliciously after Jacob Everett did superbly down our left. 3-3 and extra time loomed again.
With the game delicately poised more bookings started to appear on both sides. Following Jacob Everett into the book was Marc Sutton and sub Ben Foster. However, the big news was that Balcombe broke through our defences yet again in the 97 minute. The ball was pulled back from our right and swept home to potentially break Slade hearts once more.
In the 102 minute Balcombe had a player red-carded for a second bookable offence after a dangerous foul. This gave Slade even more momentum and everything was thrown at the Balcombe defence. Chances went agonisingly begging from Karl Boffey, Jacob Everett and Sammy Dudek in the remaining minutes and it just wasn't to be our day……yet again.
Surely our lack of luck must change sooner or later. Barring the Copthorne fixture we've played very well in the past four games but unfortunately have absolutely nothing to show for it.
Man of the Match was Tom Ryan who marshalled the defence excellently throughout despite playing with a troublesome hamstring. Jacob Everett, Nathan Cook and Sammy Dudek ran him close for this weeks bottle of imaginary champagne.