WWFC Hurricanes 0 – 8 Wing Raiders Spartans
H/T Score: 0-3
Team: Evan, Francis; Charles, Freddie, Orlando, Rocco(c), Ryan; Asante, Harry, Josh, Luke; Tao
HURRICANES HUMBLED BY CLASSY SPARTANS
Following last week’s League victory against Two Mile Ash Dragons, the Hurricanes went back to Cup action for the 2nd Round tie against high-flying Wing Raiders Spartans. The free-scoring Division One team had only lost once so far this season but as the FA Cup has shown, anything is possible in a one-off game…
Hurricanes were once again at full-strength, with Francis and Evan sharing goalkeeping duties and Rocco marshalling a 4-man defence alongside a combination of Charles, Freddie, Orlando and Ryan. Luke alternated with Josh in centre midfield with Asante and Harry providing pace and trickery out wide, and Tao was tasked with patrolling the front line. The rain over the preceding days had made the pitch heavy, but fortunately the game was passed as playable and the action commenced.
After a few cagey exchanges, it was the Spartans who took an early lead. A midfield punt was chased down by two Hurricanes defenders and a Spartans attacker but as Francis came out to claim, the ball held up in the mud and the rangy striker poked in to open the scoring. 0-1, and the difficult task has just got that little bit harder. Spartans upped their game even more, and attacked at will – a long-range snap shot from their impressive no. 10 stung Francis’ palms, looped up onto the crossbar and back down into his grateful arms. Next, their no. 12 belied his size by running the length of the pitch evading challenges along the way, but his shot was saved. Another attempt 30 seconds later was blocked by Orlando, and Freddie headed the follow-up off of the line. Soon, the Spartans lead was doubled, as the no. 17 latched on to a through ball, danced past Francis and slotted home. 0-2, 11 minutes in, and the uphill task had become a mountain to climb.
Hurricanes then had their own sustained period of pressure. Asante picked up the ball in his own half and sped forward, eventually winning a corner. Josh dummied his defender but was unable to get a shot away and just after Rocco had stopped an advancing attack from reaching the penalty box, a Josh header was defended well by Wing. Hurricanes were into their stride now – Freddie was stepping out of defence to help shore up midfield, and Orlando was providing great cover and blocking through balls. Harry then went close with a shot from distance and then had a good run down the line after being played in by Freddie. Harry’s cross was just over Tao’s head, but the signs were promising.
With 5 minutes left in the half, the Raiders broke forward and only a great tackle by Orlando and a clearance from Charles prevented them from extending their lead. Freddie and Asante then combined well down the Hurricanes’ left, before another Charles clearance was needed to thwart the dangerous away team. Could Woburn get through to the break and regroup? Sadly no – a Spartans corner wasn’t cleared and their no. 10 smashed home. 0-3. Asante nearly pulled one back on the stroke of half-time as his fine run and shot was spilled by the keeper, but the follow-up was wide.
The teams gathered for drinks and motivational speeches, and in a sporting gesture the Spartans offered the Hurricanes some half-time oranges. Indeed, the game was played in a very fair manner throughout, despite the ruthless nature of the Spartans’ attacks. Soon, it was time to continue and the battle line were drawn again.
Immediately the Hurricanes, sensing that they had little to lose now, strode forward and gained a corner. Luke whipped the ball in but it broke to the opposing no. 12 again. He raced forward, crossed past Francis and the striker tapped in. 0-4 and if there had been an inkling of hope a few seconds ago, it had gone. From the restart, Luke played in Asante who again raced through and had his shot parried, but this time the second attempt hit the side netting. Evan, who by now had replaced Francis in goal, parried a fierce shot from the Spartans, and his goalkeeping colleague cleared off the line. Soon a Wing free kick was swerving towards goal – Evan could only knock it out, for the onrushing striker to pounce. 0-5. However, the Hurricanes continued to search for a consolation. Luke dispossessed the Wing defender and his cross only just evaded Harry. A Josh through ball was also chased by the ever-willing front-man who had moved up to lead the line to replace Tao, who had really put a shift in on a difficult day for the Woburn strike force.
Soon it was 0-6 from a goalmouth scramble, and the Hurricanes were looking tired having spent much of the game chasing the ball on the boggy surface. The seventh goal came from another counter-attack as the visitors used their pace to outflank the weary defenders again, and although Ryan and Harry linked up well down the left on occasion, it was no real surprise when the final goal came from a fierce shot that Evan was unable to hold onto. 0-8, and as the whistle blew, the sporting teams shook hands on a comprehensive victory for the higher Division team.
Losing in such a manner will be hard to stomach, but the Hurricanes can take credit from their valiant efforts and knowing that they will not play a team as good as that again for a very long time. Rocco should also feel extremely proud of his efforts as without him the scoreline could well have been much worse. Finally a word about our visitors – congratulations on a superb display by Wing Raiders Spartans, who demonstrated their class on and off the pitch. Best of luck to them in the next round of the Cup, whilst for the Hurricanes a time to reflect and maybe learn from their illustrious opponents.