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The eagerly awaited local derby cup match finally arrived as we made the short trip down the road to Senior side Benhall. There were doubts as to whether the match would take place due to the freezing conditions, and it was only confirmed less than two hours before ko.

Due to other matches being postponed there was a larger than expected crowd, and also our opponents were able to strengthen their side.

Benhall came out of the blocks quickly and we found ourselves 1-0 down within the first couple of minutes before we had managed to settle.

To our credit we didn't panic and, despite a hard bumpy pitch, soon began to impose our possession based game on our opponents as we went in search of an equaliser.

After around 25 minutes our pressure was rewarded. A free kick from the right was cleared to the edge of the area from which an Isaac Page (sponsored by C Page Motors) shot was deflected to Will Stebbings (sponsored by R&R Carpentry) on the left, and his cross was met by Joe Murphy who steered the ball past the keeper. There was some debate about who got the last touch before the ball crossed the line as Joe Moore (sponsored by Xtra Time Sports Development) and a Benhall defender slid into the goal, but the goal has been awarded to Joe Murphy.

We continued to dominate but Benhall were dangerous on the break, and twice they created chances from which they hit the woodwork.

A very entertaining half ended 1-1 and whilst we had most of the possession, Benhall had created the better chances.

As the temperature dropped the mist rolled in and there were some concerns as to whether the match would be able to continue.

Benhall changed formation and started the second half well. Not long into the half they hit the woodwork for the third time. Having ridden our luck we again took control and pushed for the winner. Our best chance fell to Rob Stephenson (sponsored by Jeffery & Associates) whose close range header was pushed away by the keeper. We also had a massive penalty shout for handball just before the end, but unfortunately the ref decided it did not warrant a penalty.

Despite our domination we failed to get the winner and the match ended 1-1, taking us straight to the lottery of penalties to decide the tie.

Unfortunately despite two great saves by Ben Vincent (one being a retaken penalty which he had already saved) we fell to a 3-2 penalty shoot out defeat, resulting in much celebration by our opponents who knew they had been second best for most of the match. Mention should be made to youngsters Dan Blowers (sponsored by CDC Blowers Ltd) and Eddie Hadley (sponsored by M&R Cars) for stepping up and converting in the penalty shoot out.

In summary, it was a great cup match in difficult conditions. Both teams gave it their all and there were chances at both ends. We can take a lot of heart from our performance which shows how far we have progressed this season. Congratulations to Benhall and we wish them well in the next round.

The Reserves match at Carlton Park was unfortunately postponed due to a frozen pitch.

In the evening we held our Xmas party in the Clubhouse to also take in the England match. Although the result did not go England's way we had a great night. Thanks to Caroline for providing a lovely spread and to Jan for her work behind the bar.

Next week the First team travel to Stonham Aspal in the final match before Xmas, whilst the Reserves have no match until the new year.


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