Ground: King’s Park (2nd visit)
Date: Wednesday 20th August 2008, 7.45 pm
Competition: FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Match: Meir KA 4 Goodrich 4 AET FT: 3-3 5-4 on pens 2 HT: 1-1 Att: 76
Wright 25 Hughes 35
Maszkiel 87 Morgan 65 (Pen),80,97
Chin-Shaw 90, 105
Additional: Entrance: £4 Programme: £1 Hot drinks: Coffee 75p Tea 50p
This match is what the FA Cup is all about. It was an absolute classic that had everything you could wish for. End to end drama, a few scuffles, a sending off, a dramatic comeback, an injury time equaliser, extra time and penalties. This is what they mean by the ‘magic’. As one middle aged Meir fan, with a beaming face, said behind the goal that the penalties were being fired into – this is better than taking drugs –and he was right! On a small pitch in the bottom-most tip of Stoke, with about 150 covered seats and a small strip of terracing, two teams were fighting for the chance to progress to the next round of the cup – only 12 more victories and in theory either one of these tiny sides could be at Wembley facing Man Utd or Chelsea.
This wasn’t a new ground, but a chance to support one of my local clubs in the FA Cup. Meir KA had drawn 1-1 at Goodrich, in Wolverhampton on Saturday, setting up this replay.
There’s something about the FA Cup, that at no matter what round, gets everyone a bit more excited than normal and the players a bit more fired up. Tonight’s encounter was no different. Meir, in the yellow and black, got off to an impressive start, almost scoring after a minute, with a player through on goal hitting the post. Meir continued to dominate the first twenty minutes, creating loads of chances and leaving Goodrich in no doubt of their intentions to have it over by half time.
Meir did make their pressure count on 25 when the ball was crossed to the far post where Wright smacked a volley back across goal into the far corner. It was a quality finish. At last their superiority was down on paper. At this level, though, much more so than at league level, a superior spell or even total domination of the opposition for a large period, is by no means a guarantee of a result. Goodrich quietly crept back into it with some neat football of their own and just 10 minutes later had equalised when a fierce shot was only parried by Meir’s keeper to to the onrushing Hughes who belted it in.
The second half saw a Meir less fluent than the first, maybe frustrated at their inability to make the first half more profitable. It was an even tussle until the 65th minute when Goodrich were awarded a penalty and Meir KA had a man sent off. The penalty was saved superbly with the keeper diving down to his right to parry it. He couldn’t quite run out to pick it up before Morgan had pounced again, this time ricocheting off the keeper and in. It was panic stations for Meir now and a hint of desperation came into their play.
The death knell for Meir’s FA Cup run was well and truly struck in the 80th minute with a beautifully struck third for Goodrich. Morgan cut inside on the left just outside the penalty area and banged a rocket in the inside of the net. It was as game over for Meir as you could get. Some fans started walking out. The likeliest final score at this point was either 1-4 or 1-5. However a lifeline was given 10 man Meir in the 87th minute when a well struck cross was bungled over the line by Maszkiel, with a large suspicion of handball. It was a messy one that didn’t even hit the net, but they all count and suddenly there was a bit of hope around King’s Park.
After a few near misses and desperate scrambles the game was deep deep into injury time and it looked like it might not happen. One last chance presented itself with a free kick about 40 yards out. The ball was payed in dead central into Goodrich’s box. The Goodrich keeper made the appalling decision to come out to it…Chin-Saw jumped up before him, heading it in a gentle loop towards the goal. Time stood still for a couple of seconds as the crowd watched the arc of the ball…hit the net. The scenes of jubilation were immense and belied the official attendance of 76 (minus the few who left at 3-1).
Goodrich weren’t beat yet, though and scored a clever goal on 97 to restore their lead. However, it was Chin-Saw again in the last minute of first half extra time who controlled a through ball beautifully before chipping past the Goodrich keeper. Meir had a few chances to win in the second period including a rebound shot that was spectacularly cleared off the line by a flying Goodrich defender. It was Roy of the Rovers edge of you seat stuff.
And so to penalty kicks and you got the feeling that it was going to be Meir’s night, and it was. They banged in all five to get the wild celebrations started.
Meir face Nuneaton Griff from their division (Midland Combinbation step 6) in the next round on 30th August.