Friday, 6 December 2013

Cave In

Saturday 9th November
East Riding County FA Senior Cup R2
North Cave 2 Easington United 2
(At 90mins Cave won 4-1 on pens)

Once again our interest in the various East Riding County FA Cup competitions is over by the second round stage.
The second weekend in November is the traditional time for us to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.  In recent years it has also become the weekend in which we lament the end of our County cup hopes for another year!
Following the Reserves’ first round exit from the Senior Country Cup and last week’s defeat for the Casuals in the Qualifying version, the First Team made its by now customary exit against Humber Premier League opponents in the Senior competition.
And so yet again there’ll be no appearance for us on BBC Radio Humberside’s live quarter final draw.
But there should have been.  For despite travelling to Church Street with another depleted squad, sitting just a point clear of the bottom following our worst league result in recent times and facing a team riding high in their respective Step 7 competition, we should really be celebrating a place in the last eight for the first time since 2008.
Anybody actually at the game (and I acknowledge that this figure doesn’t stretch much beyond the players and management of both teams) may wonder how I come to this conclusion given the amount of possession and shots on target enjoyed by our hosts.
It is because with less than ten minutes left we were sitting as comfortably as one can when you’re holding a one goal lead and seeing little of the ball.
For all their possession and territorial advantage, Cave appeared to have virtually run out of ideas.  They were reduced to shots from all range and angles, few of which appeared to seriously trouble Mad John between the sticks.
Manager Sumo had used his depleted bench prudently, taking off veterans Gav and Wilky and tweaking the shape to accommodate Smalls and new boy Wicksy, and we appeared on course to close things out.  Then Cave equalised.  But I’m getting ahead of myself... 

Perhaps not presenting Church Street in quite its best light?

I have always liked North Cave as a venue – and this despite us having a pretty poor record there in all the time I’ve been involved with Easington. 
Admittedly, it’s a ground I hadn’t been too for many years prior to Saturday’s visit.  Our last game there at First Team level was back in October 2000, during the inaugural season of the Humber Premier League.
We’d arrived at Church Street winless after five games but proceeded to break our duck with a particularly gutsy 4-2 success.  Our goals were scored by Glenn Ratcliffe (2), Kenny Knott and Gavin Thurkettle, three residents of Patrington Haven – a fact I remember due to my use of the headline “First win is Haven sent” in that Thursday’s Gazette.  Eh, there’s a lot of thought goes into this sports reporting malarkey y’know!
Despite winning the inaugural League Cup, Cave resigned from the HPL at the end of that first season and were forced to make something of a circuitous route back in.  Benefitting from the demise of a team at nearby Brough, the current Cave team began as the Reserves string playing in the County League.
Returning to the HPL in Division 1 a few years later, the club eventually gained promotion to the Premier Division in 2010/11, as runners-up to Beverley side Hodgsons.
The following season they finished fourth in the top flight and after a seventh place last season look on course for another decent campaign this time round.  Despite an eye-catching 0-5 home defeat by Hedon Rangers the previous weekend, they currently occupy a top three position, behind evergreen heavyweights Reckitts and reigning champions Beverley Town. 

To be saved for later...or so I thought

When re-entering the ground over a decade on from that last visit, I was quite amused to see that the only change would appear to be the situating of a couple of dugouts.  So much for year-on-year progress as set out at the original meeting back in July 2000.
On the plus side, the ground boasts a very tidy clubhouse inside which can be found Sky TV (the Reading v QPR match was on live as we arrived).  Of more immediate interest to me was the sight of a hand-pump bearing the pin for Great Newsome Pricky Back Otchan.  Oh yes, that’ll do nicely for later thought I... 
All the times I recall playing against North Cave teams our opponents wore red.  Not anymore.  As they went through their pre-match routine within yards of the clubhouse it was in a rather natty all-orange affair.  According to the lad who seemed to be in charge of the bar, it was bought last season and he agreed it was a break with tradition.
“About time we broke with tradition too”, said Burt-on-Bus whilst admiring QPR’s bottle and gold affair.  “Summat like that would be nice”.
“Shut up you idiot” was my reply.
I was disappointed to hear that Cave no longer attract the crowds they used to.  Similar to us it would appear numbers have dwindled in tandem with the loss of local players, despite the quality of football improving. 
“There’s only three or four lads live in Cave now.  We’ve even had to move the training to South Hunsley”, our barman informed us.
I told him that was similar to us in terms of pulling players in from far and wide; and he wouldn’t believe me if I tried to explain the situation with our training at the moment! 

Lest We Forget

Both teams lined up pre-match to observe a minute’s silence.  It was impeccably observed save for the sound of a ball being kicked against a wooden hut near the pavilion by a youngster with his back to what was going on.
It reminded me of other unfortunate ‘silence breakers’ – like the ice cream van at Hessle Rangers on the corresponding afternoon last year or Pistol Pete whistling away to his heart’s content when stepping out of the tea hut at South Normanton a few years back – blissfully unaware that just a few yards away two teams, match officials and both sets of management and supporters were stood in silent memory of a player tragically killed in a recent road accident.  Ooh, it took him a while to live that one down! 

Wilky Woo!

At kick-off there were barely twenty spectators lining the near roped-off touchline, almost half of whom were supporting the Eastenders.
Initially it looked like we could be in for a long afternoon as the hosts, obviously chastened by their last result, started like men on a mission.
Crisp passing and good movement immediately opened us up and Chris Short struck the bar inside the first two minutes.
A goal looked on the cards and arrived on quarter of an hour; another decent move being capped by Ozzie Marsden’s low shot into the corner.
Thankfully we didn’t crumble and we enjoyed a decent spell of possession.  This in turn yielded a few corners and the odd half-chance, one of which Tom Mac headed powerfully but unfortunately straight at keeper Matt Johnson.
The unfortunate Johnson was then to take centre-stage.
First he made an awful hash of dealing with a backpass, which allowed Wilky to level with the simplest of goals.
The Cave keeper was then left floundering at his near post as JC’s thumping right foot strike took him totally by surprise.  Nearly half the game gone and we led 2-1.
The hosts threatened to level matters by the break.  Marsden headed over the top, while Short’s attempts to cap another flowing Cave move were thwarted by fine reactions from Mad John.  Half-time arrived with us having one foot in the quarter-finals...

JC celebrates what should've been the winner

Tempted as I was to sample the aforementioned Pricky Back Otchan during the break, I opted for a hot cuppa instead and settled down to watch some of the England v Fiji rugby league world cup encounter from the KC while, just a few yards away, Sumo and AG were no doubt urging their players to get tighter to their opponents in order to secure a morale-boosting win.
And this they did to some extent.  Although it was the hosts who made all the running, our back four coped admirably most of what came their way.  Meanwhile, we had numerous chances to make things happen on the counter – leaving most of us thinking what could have happened had the speedy Sam Huteson not been a morning withdrawal.
All around me the news was bad.  The Stiffs were losing at home to Wawne in the County Premier.  City had shipped three inside the opening half-hour at St Mary’s.  But at Church Street we continued to hold out.
With just eight minutes remaining we forced a throw-in up near the right corner flag in the Cave half of the field.  I distinctly remember shouting out for someone, anyone to squeeze up as the hosts were allowed to take it unopposed.
Within seconds the ball was launched upfield.  For almost the first time that afternoon Sam Mac was beaten to it and moments later sub Tom Moss had lifted the ball over John and into the net; 2-2.
I think we all knew then what the outcome of today was going to be.
A couple of promising positions came to nought in the dying moments and at the final whistle referee Chris Hitchcock called both captains to him to announce that due to the poor light the tie would be determined by penalties.  The feeling of foreboding went up another notch.
Up stepped Short, a standout player all game, and although John went the right way it was 1-0.
Willow strode forward and calmly tied things up.  Never doubted.
Damen McMahon emphatically restored the hosts’ lead before Biggy Smalls emphatically lifted his effort over the bar.  Advantage North Cave.
It was 3-1 thanks to Aaron Malton and when Johnson guessed correctly to deny Stef the hosts were nearly there.
No.16 Jason Crisp applied the coup de grace with the by now obligatory “Pirlo pen” and our County interest was at an end.
As I trudged back to the clubhouse I assured myself that solace would be found in a pint of Pricky Back.  The guy in front of me at the bar had the same idea...
“Sorry, we’ve none left.  We had a run on it on Bonfire Night”
It summed up the day – and our fortunes in the County cups perfectly: all gone!   

Match report and Burt’s pictures can be found here and on our Facebook page.

No comments: