City Hit Seven To Move Into Semi-Finals
City finally put Thamesmead to the sword, needing extra time and seven goals to see off their quarter-final opponents
Canterbury City 7 SC Thamesmead 3
It was a case of ‘got there in the end’ for City as they finally defeated lower league Sporting Club Thamesmead in this pulsating Kent Senior Trophy quarter-final tie. Having taken the lead, it was all looking good for City, but their opponents fought their way back into the game, twice taking the lead themselves to establish a single goal advantage at the break. It then took City until the eighty-seventh minute to force the tie into extra time when their superior fitness, quality and one-man advantage finally told as they scored four more times to win the tie, with eventually, room to spare.
City dominated the early stages and deservedly went into the lead on fifteen minutes as up until then all the attacking play had been coming from the hosts. Matt Martin hit the visitors on the break but his far post cross just eluded Sam Lawford chasing in, while Darren Marsden, also on the break almost set Dave Pilcher up, but his effort was sliced wide. Lawford's pace was troubling the Thamesmead defence and it took a foul to stop him bursting clear into the box - City unable to prosper from the resultant free-kick, before a long range low effort from Josh McCallum took a deflection wide.
The first goal then arrived when Martin pounced on a misplaced pass and found Pilcher who looked up and unselfishly lifted the ball over to the far post where Lawford was on hand to make it 1-0. It was all looking good for City and they had a chance to increase their lead shortly after when Dan Keyte won the ball in midfield and fed Martin but his volleyed lob cleared the keeper but also the crossbar as well.
Thamesmead though were just starting to find their feet and get themselves into the game. They were getting forward but were just lacking the final ball or a cutting edge. Jamie Williams fired well wide when better placed while an audacious wide right volley from Josh Patrick just floated past the angle. On thirty minutes the visitors equalised though when a wide left free-kick was speared into the box and glanced off a City head, flying onto the net for 1-1. The visitors then snatched the lead when a move across the edge of the City box was unhindered with a lack of tackles and too much space was allowed to give Williams the chance to stroke the ball past a static Jack Delo in the City goal for 1-2.
They weren't in front for long though as just two minutes later, City were level. A free-kick from the right was lifted in and missed by the defender and McCallum moved the quickest forcing the ball home from close range for 2-2. An exciting game then took another turn as, just before the break, Thamesmead re-took the lead when Patrick crashed home a penalty into the roof of the City net giving Delo no chance for 2-3. City then had a great chance to draw level again - but in first-half stoppage time, Marsden could only lift the ball over the bar when well placed.
Amongst all the goals the first half had simmered along, no quarter was asked or given from either side and it had been a competitive and tight first period and as the break arrived, a stirring cup-tie saw the pre-match underdogs holding the one goal advantage.
As the game restarted, clearly City's first priority was to restore parity and ensure they didn't fall further behind. Marsden's miss just before the break had been a great chance to do that, but City were then to spurn two more opportunities as first Lawford, overlapping at the far post could only put the ball over the bar when in a great position and then Pilcher, normally deadly from the spot, saw his penalty saved by Thamesmead keeper Charlie Martin.
The game was soon becoming even tighter, Thamesmead desperately trying to hang on their lead and a frustrated City were being chased and harried by their opponents. The card count began to climb as one or two tackles flew in as the referee endeavoured to keep control. Thamesmead's task of holding on then got a bit harder when Sodiq Badaru, having already been one of several players booked, kicked the ball away after a free-kick had been awarded and found himself facing a second yellow card and his team reduced to ten men.
City now had a one man advantage, but still they couldn't find the vital move. An attacking free-kick brought nothing for them and loud appeals for a penalty when Martin was shoved over in the box were ignored. McCallum then fired over from distance and as time wore on City seemingly looked to be on a fruitless search for that little bit of quality that would create an opening.
Another late tackle saw another card as Laurence Harvey was floored and already Thamesmead, under strength and under pressure were understandably attempting to take time out of the game. City continued to press, but it wasn't quite happening for them as the massed ranks of the visitor's defence continued to thwart them. Rob Lawrence then came on to replace Keyte as the clock ticked on and City's cause became even more urgent.
On seventy-five minutes, a rare sortie forward could have killed the game off for Thamesmead but a fierce shot from Patrick was brilliantly beaten away by Delo to keep his side in it. Another chance passed City by when a ball into the box just flew over the head of Danny Lawrence sprinting in and then agonisingly, also just evaded Jamie Maxted sliding in at the far post.
With time running out an attacking substitution saw City introduce Tom Barton to the fray for Gary Sayer, but they still needed to protect the back door as Harvey made a terrific block to deny the visitors and a Thamesmead corner was defended away to safety.
On eighty-seven minutes, finally the stubborn Thamesmead resistance was broken, when a Pilcher corner was perfectly flighted for Harvey to come flying in and bury a bullet header home for 3-3. Now City went searching for the winner. A promising move down the left ended with Maxted's ball in grazing the top of the cross bar, Marsden saw his effort go wide and keeper Martin had to dive down to his left to paw another City effort away near the foot of the post. A frantic final few minutes saw another Thamesmead corner defended away by City as the whistle blew and the tie went into extra-time.
City started the extra period on the front foot and soon Thamesmead were staring at a possible defeat when the hosts quickly grabbed the lead. A Rob Lawrence cross had already seen Martin save a Pilcher header, while the keeper then denied Marsden with another smart stop, before another cross from Lawrence cleverly found Barton at the far post and he headed home from close range for his first goal for City and to make the score 4-3.
Suddenly it was all City. Barton shot narrowly wide, a shot from a corner was then blocked with Marsden firing the rebound just over and Rob Lawrence stole the ball in midfield before rolling it across for Barton, but the youngster could only scoop it over the bar on the run. At last City were back on top, but then they almost handed Thamesmead a route back into the game when Delo was pulled up for double-handling the ball and after a protracted discussion, Thamesmead were awarded a free-kick well inside the City box - a golden chance they spurned - scuffing the kick and allowing City to clear for a fruitless corner.
The game was now wide open, but the move of the match thus far involving about half the City team at one point or another ended when Maxted rolled the ball into Martin and with an adroit turn and a sidestep, he made a yard of space before firing home to give City some vital breathing space at 5-3.
The changeover soon came and City were now in the ascendency as their superior fitness and one man advantage finally began to take their toll. Martin almost sneaked number six in at the near post, while a shot on the turn by Pilcher was brilliantly saved by the keeper flying out with a classy smothering stop. City were now playing keep ball and basically had their opponents chasing shadows and each other. Marsden battled his way into the box before seeing his effort saved at the expense of a City corner from which the ball eventually came out to Rob Lawrence who fired just over.
City pressure soon told though as another sparkling move saw a piercing run from Martin and after a quick one-two with Rob Lawrence, he whipped the ball across the keeper and into the far side of the net for 6-3. There was no way back for the visitors now as keeper Martin was forced to beat away an effort from Rob Lawrence, before the same player set City's Martin through only to be denied by his namesake. The keeper could do nothing though to prevent City's seventh when in the final minute, Barton ran across the edge of the box, beating two challenges before lashing the ball home from eighteen yards for 7-3.
An incident packed cup tie which was in the balance right up until City ran away with it in extra-time, finally beating off a plucky Thamesmead.
Final score; Canterbury City 7 SC Thamesmead 3
City; Jack Delo, Gary Sayer (Tom Barton), Jamie Maxted, Dan Keyte (Rob Lawrence), Laurence Harvey, Josh McCallum, Darren Marsden, Dan Lawrence, Matt Martin, Dave Pilcher, Sam Lawford (Cory Walters-Wright)
Unused subs; Will Hadler, Ben Smith