|Harborough Town Rascals||2|
Arriving at the ‘Players Entrance’ and being shown into the Leicester City home changing room was a fantastic feeling for us all and for the next 15 minutes it’s fair to say the lads had the time of their lives messing about in the exercise room and posing for photos in the team bath and in various other locations, and the hardest thing for me was to bring them back down to earth, get them focused, and remind them just exactly why we were all there. I reminded them that we had a very important football match to play and I promised them that as fantastic as this experience was so far, if we were to lose this game of football we would fill that huge team bath with our tears afterwards, and that this day would only have bad memories for us for the rest of our lives. From that point on its fair to say the lads had their ‘game heads’ on and ready for the job in hand.
I’d done my homework, I’d been and watched Harborough Town play when I learned they would be our opponents in the final and I had made a few tactical notes on their strengths, weaknesses and on how I thought we could best defeat them as well as how to cancel out their most effective players so I delivered my tactical team talk and sent the lads out to do what they do best with my final words of “get 2 or 3 goals up early on and we can all relax and enjoy the occasion” ringing in their ears.
Imagine my delight to find ourselves 3-0 up after 13 minutes thanks to 2 goals from Hans, both set up by Joe, and a goal by Joe when he followed up on a spilled shot from Batesy. With all due respect to Harborough it was effectively ‘game over’ at that point. The rest of the game seemed to go by in an instant. I made a point of substituting all the players on a regular basis to keep them warm and to give them all equal game time but in reality this only succeeded in making us disjointed and prevented us from getting any fluid play going but to be honest I wasn’t bothered – cup finals are there to be won, and history only remembers the winners, not how well they played in it.
Harborough pulled a goal back to make it 3-1 midway through the second half but we struck back almost immediately when Hans got on the end of another cross from Joe to make it 4-1 to us and to complete his hat-trick. Harborough managed to pull it back to 4-2 late on but it was too little too late and the final whistle was met by cheers of elation from all the Groby players and supporters.
Apart from the 2 goals we conceded Marcus didn’t have much to do all game between the sticks, mostly because the defence was marshalled so brilliantly by Bryn, Charlie and Cameron. At one point with only minutes to go, spotting the keeper off his line, Cameron let fly with one of his trademark thunderbolts from just inside his own half that looked in as soon as it had left his famous left boot but just as the crowd were about to start celebrating a brilliant goal the Harborough keeper somehow managed to tip it over the bar for a corner. Matt and Ryan were their usual dominant selves in midfield. Hans and Joe terrorised the Harborough midfield and defence with their forward surges whilst Smig and Batesy kept the Harborough defence on their toes all the time with their movement and desire to attack.
‘Player of the Match’ had to go to Joe. He’s proven time and time again that he is a player for the big occasion, and they didn’t come any bigger than this! He put in an almost perfect performance setting up 3 goals and scoring the other as well as his all-round contribution.
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