City In Another Extra-Time Cup Victory as They Defeat K Sports at Cobdown
By Kevin Olver
City go through to the next round of the League Cup with extra-time strike direct from a corner
Canterbury City 1 K Sports 0
Another cup and another extra-time victory for City as they finally managed to break down K Sports stubborn resistance in the 108th minute, surviving another sending off and a missed penalty along the way.
A difficult and scrappy game played on the artificial surface at the Cobdown complex, where control and slick football were very much at a premium. Countless heavy first touches and the ball pinging about did little to encourage flowing football, while anything sent long just seemed to bounce high and shoot off the surface far beyond it's intended target.
It was frustrating to watch and for a long time the game seemed to have goalless written all over it and then once extra-time had come into play, this encounter seemed destined to go to penalties.
There were some chances to report though as James Jeffrey volleyed over from out wide for Sports while for City, Josh Froggatt fired low and straight at Sports keeper Henry Lovering. Jeffrey then misdirected a header wide of the far post when he took advantage of an abnormally high bounce that wrong footed a City defender, while an exchange of long range blocked shots at either end failed to trouble the keepers.
Most of the efforts on goal were half chances at best - Tom Barton's ambitious chip was easily taken by Lovering, Sam Butterworth fired a handily placed free-kick straight at City keeper Tom Benham while another Sports header was merely catching practise for Benham. Matt Gething was brilliantly thwarted by a perfectly timed sliding tackle for City by (my) man-of-the-match Liam Quinn as he zoned in on the City goal following which a ball flashed across the City box somehow avoiding anybody's touch.
A lovely dummy from Brett Ince found Adam Woollcott and his shot on goal needed Lovering to get down well to his left to push the ball past the post. It came at a cost though, as Woollcott was injured in the process and unable to continue being replaced by Cristian Valles-Sangenis. Ince then picked up the clever run of Barton who nipped in behind a hesitant defence but his shot didn't have enough on it and although he managed to nick it past the keeper, it was cleared off the line by a back-tracking defender as it dribbled gently towards the goal.
A goalless first half came to a quiet end with barely a clear-cut chance in sight and unfortunately, very much as it turned out - the shape of things to come.
The pattern continued after the break as Jeffrey showed a nice piece of skill over on the Sports right and set James Shield through but his sliced effort spun well wide of the far post while another effort from Sports saw James Alderman harmlessly send in a shot that just drifted wide. Froggatt almost broke though for City but Lovering made a double save to thwart him, while the lively Jeffrey got down the wing again but his ball in saw Gething loosely head the ball up in the air for Benham to take.
An exchange of attacking free-kicks saw Ince clip the outside of the Sports post with his, while Benham needed two grabs of the ball to save the one fired in at his end before the keeper then pulled off a great blocking save to prevent Shield opening the scoring for Sports after one of the few decent moves of the match.
The game wore on and a series of corners from Sports failed to prise City apart, but the visitors did break on the counter from the last one, but keeping in with the mood of the night, the vital key pass in the attack was poor and it completely broke down. Froggatt was then denied by a great blocking tackle, but City retained possession following which Valles-Sangenis then shot wide of the far post.
With eyes on the probability of extra-time and taking into account City had only just been through that a few days earlier they made a couple of changes introducing Kane Phillip and James Turner, but the game ended tamely as Ince saw an effort go well over the bar, while at the other end, Alex Arif's long shot was screwed well wide.
With very little to entertain and enjoy it was almost a blessing when the final whistle blew, but it was tinged with the prospect of extra-time to come!
Substitute Sam Stace seemed to liven things up for the hosts and his piercing run was halted by Gary Sayer who sprinted across to clear the ball off his toes as he threatened to run though on goal, while a loose ball was then hammered well over the bar by Jeffrey. A home free-kick was wasted as the ball was simply lifted straight into Benham's midrift, while City responded when a fierce Phillip shot was well blocked on the edge of the box before a double effort from Stace saw City debutant Harry Barkaway do well to block the first, leaving Benham to deal with the second.
A City free-kick whipped across the Sports box evaded several players as they chased it in while they then went close when a Turner shot took a deflection and had to be scooped out of the angle by Lovering.
A couple of corners then passed the hosts tamely by before City thought they had taken the lead when a free-kick was headed home by Quinn only to see the offside flag go up. That proved to be the last action of the first half of extra-time as penalties were looking more and more likely.
City restarted on the offensive and a snap shot from Ollie Lee was well saved by Lovering at the expense of a corner from which, finally, after what seemed an eternity, a goal was scored. Valles-Sangenis swung the ball in and it flew over everyone, hit the inside of the far post and cannoned into the net for 1-0.
The goal then sparked twelve minutes of frantic activity as Sports desperately tried to get back in the game. Jeffrey saw a shot deflected out for a corner which was cleared while another home free-kick was again far too easy for Benham to gather. With three minutes to go, City were handed the perfect opportunity to put the tie to bed when they were awarded a penalty after Phillip had danced his way past two challenges and into the box only to be brought down by a third. Youngster Liam Middleton was handed the responsibility, but his firm spot-kick was well saved by Lovering who quickly got up to block the rebound as well to keep his team still in with a shout.
With a couple of minutes to go, Ince received a second yellow and was sent off for City in a game that is worth noting, seemed to have an excessive number of cards and hardly mirrored the match that we had seen, however in the last few moments, another save from Lovering denied Phillip while a last ditch dangerous ball in to the box by Sports was calmly and competently snaffled by Benham to ease the City nerves just as the final whistle blew.
A scratchy game was only lit up by City's winning goal and it is they who progress to the next round of the Challenge Cup and after two extra-time cup victories on the trot for City and especially this encounter, it's thankfully back to the grass on Saturday at home to Crowborough in the league.
Final score: Canterbury City 1 K Sports 0
City: Tom Benham, Harry Breakaway, James Nursed, Lie Lee, Liam Quinn, Gary Sayer, Josh Froggatt (Kane Phillip), Brett Ince, Tom Barton (James Turner), Adam Woollcott (Cristian Valles-Sangenis), Liam Middleton.
Unused Subs: Charlie Carries, Jordan Casey.