Hartley de Sales vs Hollands & Blair Lightning
Lightning were coming off a very strong “untouchables” league campaign and were handed a home fixture against Hartley de Sales in the quarter finals of the Ken Adie Memorial Cup on Mothers Day.
Hartley had been on a successful run themselves and were full of confidence going into the game having been promoted up from league B. They also showed the home side plenty of respect playing four at the back for this 9 a side clash.
The game was scrappy and a few of the players looked dazed after the clocks went forward and an hours less sleep.
Blair started poorly and the away side looked to capitalise. Touches were loose and passing was tough on the dried out Brompton pitch and after a hurried clearance by Hartley, their impressive number 11 got the ball under control and began a purposeful run which lead to the opening goal of the game. A deserved lead and Blair would have to turn the screw to get back on terms.
After a scrappy first half, the players knew that they needed to be quicker in the press and also more careful about looking after possession. The second half started in much the same way with loose passes and miss control all over the pitch. Frustrations started to take hold and bursting through the Harley back line, Barnes-Farnham was cynically brought down on the edge of the box.
That foul seemed to light the fire for Blair who then were faster to every ball.
The away side were under pressure when again a clearance landed at the feet of the 11 for Hartley who scored his second solo effort of the game leaving Blair with a mountain to climb.
The tackles were coming thick and fast as Blair pressed the away side in and they couldn’t get out.
The pressure started to tell and the goal mouth action was building when a clearance from the keeper was blocked with a hand by the Hartley centre half. The ref awarded a penalty which gave Carter and Blair a route back into the game.
Carter stuck his penalty away superbly and with enough time on the clock, Blair could taste the chance of a comeback.
Again setting traps and pressing the away side in, the keeper was forced into going long but the clever Liam Hughes read one of his kicks, took a touch and struck a long range effort that flew over everyone, clipped the underside of the bar and into the back of the net for the equaliser! The players mobbed the popular playmaker before resetting for the final phase of the match and to search for a winner.
With just a few minutes on the clock, Blairs coaching team were preparing for penalties and getting that message to goalie The Sherriff for him to prepare to work his magic.
Fortunately for the home side, that wasn’t necessary this time out.
With time running out Inkpen was released down the left and his drive forced him towards the by-line where he cleverly beat the right back, and cut back for Liddle who took a touch to control on the bobbly pitch.
He was shut down by the impressive centre half who clattered Liddle in a tackle that could have been awarded as a second penalty for Blair.
Appeals were ignored and the ball was cleared out of the box, but, only as far as the oncoming Blair midfield.
James Barnes-Farnham picked up the loose ball, beat the onrushing challenge of the defender, turned, looked up and unleashed another Blair goal of the season contender over the despairing goalkeeper and crashing into the top far corner of the net with just 3 minutes remaining.
That turned out to be the winner and after a robust midfield performance and stunning goal, Barnes-Farnham was awarded MOTM by the watching parents who had turned out in superb numbers for this one.
A mark of a good team to win matches despite a below par performance. Blair march on to the semi-finals and a tough match against Vinters Rangers away from home.