Ron Halfacre Cup (2nd round)
Sunday 2 Dec
Accrington Stanley Bowles 2 vs Loko 3
LUCKY LOKO LIVE DANGEROUSLY
It was touch and go on two accounts. With temperatures nearing sub zero, kick off was delayed for 45 minutes to allow the pitch to thaw. The ref declared the pitch unplayable but, as both teams were keen to play regardless, the game went ahead albeit for only 40 minutes each way.
The beginning of the game was an atypical Loko performance as the railwaymen started on the front foot and dominated the midfield and combined quite well. These early efforts quickly paid off.
On 12 minutes, a foul on Adil on the right hand side of the pitch resulted in a freekick. Captain DAVE F stepped forward 30 yards out and floated the ball over the hapless keeper’s head as if in slow mention for the game opener.
Accrington Stanley Bowles 0 vs Loko 1
Five minutes later, yet another freekick from the right hand side was despatched by Dave F. This time the ball bounced off the back of Said – who’d started the game in his favoured midfield position – onto Adil on the left hand side who powered the ball across the box back onto SAID who volleyed it into the net from two yards out for his second of the season.
Accrington Stanley Bowles 0 vs Loko 2
From then on, strangely enough, Loko lost their way. The passing was still good but Loko were not making much headway. Kevin and Jake were pushing forward and seemingly making a point to manager Terry that they were reluctant defenders and would be better deployed in an attacking position.This meant that Loko were stretched at the back as ASB were launching attack after attack down the wings with the defence and midfield desperately trying to repel their attacks. This included a Kevin clearance on the goal line following a corner from our left . Thankfully, John was his usual assured self in goal throughout.
On 31 minutes, after yet another attack down our right, the ball was crossed to the centre of the box. Ivan cleared the ball but not far enough and the ASB midfield and forwards were now outnumbering the Loko defence and, after a quick exchange on the edge of the box, their centre forward slotted the ball to John’s left hand side to reduce the deficit.
Accrington Stanley Bowles 1 vs Loko 2
Loko were now getting nervous and were unable to play their game. The odd bit of wizardry and nutmegs by James T on the left hand side could not detract from the fact that Loko were struggling and unable to contain ASB.
Loko were therefore grateful for the shorter half and the opportunity to regroup at half time but Manager Terry made it clear he was expecting much better from the team.
This seemed to fall on deaf ears as ASB were all over Loko right from the word go in the second half.
On 50 minutes, a ball played through the heart of the defence saw their number 10 narrowing down on goal from the edge of the box but Ivan clattered into him and got himself a yellow card into the process.
Thankfully, ASB’s free kick went astray.
A few minutes later, Andre came on for Ivan and was positioned in midfield with Said going into the centre of defence whilst Terry swopped places with Kevin.
Tommy got himself yellow carded as well a few minutes later but apart from that, Loko seemed to be back in control and scored again on 66 minutes. Dave F floated in a free kick from the left that got cleared by the ASB defence. The resulting corner was also taken by Dave F and an ASB defender headed the ball back towards his own goal and beat his own goalie.
Accrington Stanley Bowles 1 vs Loko 3
From then on, oddly enough Loko went into meltdown. Kevin tried to clear the ball from the edge of his own box but onto the path of an ASB player zooming in on goal and his low shot bounced off the bottom of our left post.
On 72 minutes, another cross from our right saw John come out of his goal in the middle of the box to grab the ball but our reliable Irishman made a very rare error and dropped it. Now in no man’s land there was no time for him to track back. Unmarked on the right hand side of our box, their number 14 now had all the time in the world to drive the ball low across our goal and into the net despite Jake’s desperate effort to clear it.
Accrington Stanley Bowles 2 vs Loko 3
ASB could now smell blood and despite the ambient cool conditions, Loko were getting hot under the collar. On 79 minutes, a cross from our left flew over our retreating defence and their centre forward was now clear on goal and headed the ball over John’s head into the empty net only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
Despite the imminent danger, some Loko players were showboating more than the situation warranted instead of covering their backs and consolidating their lead. As wave after wave of ASB attacks had Loko on the brink and nerves were now jangling, the final whistle was no doubt welcome by the men in sky blue.
Club Secretary Ivan said: “We lived very dangerously but got away with it. How long will this last? Confidence in the team is very high at the moment with arguably our best start of the season in years. As long as we retain the core of the team and support each other then, who knows?”
Man of the Match: Hard work, versatility and talent – this week’s MOM goes to Terry. Special mention to Dave F (for his decisive free kicks and goal) and Lawrence for his energy and selflessness.
Line-up: John – Jake, Tommy, Ivan (then Andre, 50 mns), Kevin – Lawrence, Said, Terry - Dave F, James T - Adil