Lavant 2 Nyetimber Pirates 1

(Malcolm Simmons Cup)

Lavant’s final game of 2015 saw them host Nyetimber Pirates in the second round of the Malcolm Simmonds Cup. With both team’s being in the same league, this cup game was the first fixture of three they would face this season, and with both teams having mixed starts to their season and being in a similar position in the league, on paper this was going to be a tight game and the formbook turned out to be correct.

Right from kick-off Lavant worked hard to breakdown the Pirates play and push forward at every opportunity to press the visitor’s goal.  As a result they made it very difficult for the visitors to settle and get a foothold in the game.

Opportunities on goal were limited, but with fifteen minutes gone a counterattack from Lavant on the right wing saw James Sandford break down the flank, before cutting in and launching an deceiving in-swinging cross deep over to the far left hand side of the six yard box, which looped over the keeper and into straight into the top corner of the goal, to the dismay of the visiting site.

Right from re-start Lavant again pressed and chased down the ball and harried in an attempt to capitalise on their lead and not give the Pirates time to settle.  Lavant forged several good chances to score, but failed to capitalise until five minutes later a deflected shot fell kindly to Pete Caveney in the six yard box, who reacted quickest to calmly slot the ball past the stranded keeper making it two-nil to the home side.

With twenty minutes remaining Lavant then decided to sit back to defend their lead till half time, perhaps a mistake as this finally allowed the Pirates an opportunity to press the Lavant goal.  As the minute went by and the pressure grew, it appeared that Lavant with some strong defending would take their two goal lead into the break, but with seven minutes remaining a defected shot from the left flank beat Lavant keeper Ash Court before hitting the far right post and bouncing agonisingly into the goal, putting the visitors right back into the game.  The remaining seven minutes seemed like an eternity as Lavant worked hard to hang on to their now slim lead.

The second half saw Lavant right from the restart press forward and chase down the ball in an attempt to stop the Pirates continuing their dominance once more.  This appeared to pay off as Lavant again forged a number of good chances and they should have reinstated their two goal buffer when some good one touch football saw Sandford put James Brooks through on goal, but somehow his goal-bound close range shot was palmed around the post by keeper Warren Pye, to ensure the Pirates remained very much in this cup tie.

As the half went on the high work rate of Lavant started to take its toll and as the visitors brought on fresh legs the game now reverted to the Lavant goal and required some outstanding defending especially from man of the match James Batten to ensure they hung on to their lead.

With minutes remaining the Pirates once more peppered Lavant’s goal and some slick passing saw an opportunity open up, as their striker broke through in the six yard box, quickly hitting a low shot and the equaliser seemed certain, but only for keeper Court to pull off a great low level save and  scramble to grab the ball.

Referee Guy Lawson seemed to play many minutes of extra time before he finally blew the whistle, giving Lavant a very hard fought cup victory.

Lavant will now face Championship side Wisborough Green in the quarter- finals in the New Year.

Team: Ash Court, Oli Haggar, Matt Lyttle, James Batten, Jon Wright, Aaron Hancock, Matt Stevens, James Brooks, Charlie McLaren, Pete Caveney, James Sandford. Subs: Ben Purgavie, Matt grace, Louis Weller, Will, Cieszynski, Neil Sanson.