The early meet time ensured everyone was there with plenty time for a good warm up, and the management team of James and Jason put us through our paces and we had a good team talk, so by the time the ref got the game underway, everyone was fully prepared and knew what was expected of them. This was evident in the first half an hour of the match, as Norsemen produced some of the best football they've played recently, and completely dominated proceedings. All of the football was being played in the Hale End half, and Norsemen starting producing a few half chances, but none were converted. That was until they won a throw level with the edge of their opponents penalty box, Murray threw it back down the line to Clifford who had found space, the youngster whipped in a superb cross which was met by Ollie Lewis who powered a brave header in off the bar to give the visitors a deserved lead.
For the next ten minutes the tempo was kept to a high level, and Norsemen should have doubled their lead when Leroy got across his marker well to meet a Murray cross, but couldn't direct his header on target. A few minutes later and Hale End were level with their first real attack. The right winger found was allowed too much space by Murray, and his second attempt at a cross was completely missed by the centre forward, but ricocheted of the unfortunate Mead and flew into the back of the net.
Half time 1-1.
The second half started how the first half had, with Norsemen dominating the ball. However as the game got more stretched, Hale End got more into it and were looking dangerous on the break. Norsemen lost the ball on the edge of the Hale End box, and the home side played it forward to the lively substitute, who rode two challenges well before skipping past JJ and slotting home. Norsemen had a great chance to equalise when Clifford found himself free 8 yards from goal, but couldn't keep his volley under the bar. This was punished in clinical style by Hale End a few minutes later when they broke again, leaving the centre forward with a one on one which he finished confidently. Norsemen kept going and despite losing their shape, continued to create chances. A ball into the box found Clifford, whose blocked shot fell to Michael Warburton, who unfortunately fired his shot over the top. With 5 minutes to go the salt was rubbed into the wounds for Norsemen as the home side broke again and sealed the victory with another clinical finish.
Full time 4-1 to Hale End.
For Norsemen a harsh lesson that to be successful this season we need to be tighter at the back and take our chances at the other end of the pitch. We wish Hale End good luck in the next round.
Onwards and upwards.