Cliffe Reserves progressed to the next round with a fully deserved 3-2 win AET, away at Shiptonthorpe on Saturday.
Simon Davies writes…
Cliffe started the better of the two teams, but fell behind after 20 minutes. Cliffe lost possession in the Shiptonthorpe half, only for the home side to capitalise and score on the counter attack.
Cliffe came straight back at their opponents and Chris Jackson was first to a ball thrown into the area, and his header was cleared off the line to prevent the equaliser. But this was only short respite as an Aaron Lees cross was again met by Jacksons head, and this time the defence had no answer as the ball found the corner of the net.
Within two minutes Tom Dunning broke his nose in a clash with his own defender Danny Beach, and had to be substituted. This was a real dent to Cliffe’s hopes as young Dunning was having a splendid game in the middle of the park, and as Cliffe were still trying to re-organise, they suffered another sucker punch, as once again they lost possession on the edge of their own box, and a snap shot found the top corner of the net, to beat a bewildered Ally Harris in the Cliffe goal.
Cliffe went into the break 2-1 down, but the second half belonged to them, and Nathan Horner played a starring role as he dominated the game. Along with Danny Beach, the pair seemed to win every ball that came their way.
On 70 minutes Cliffe were deservedly level when Leyton Hallam drove a corner straight into the top corner. This was the spur that drove the visitors on, and John Knowles and Chris Jackson both had efforts cleared off the line, and Knowles just failed to connect with a Horner free kick from eight yards out. Hallam hit the bar with a 25 yard free kick, and it seemed the game was destined for extra time as Jackson seemed to be fouled twice in the box, with no penalty coming his way.
Into extra time and the game looked to be won, after a Hallam free kick found its’ way to Mickey Caglar, who in turn chipped the ball for skipper Aaron Lees to fire an 18 yard volley past the goalkeeper into the top corner in the 119th minute. This should have been the end of the drama, but with the last kick of the game Shiptonthorpe almost levelled when through on goal, but it would have been a travesty if the ball had beaten Harris in the Cliffe goal.
Although there were some tremendous performances, Nathan Horner was fully deserved of the Man of the Match accolades, and the Reserves can look forward to the third round later next month.