Right from the start it was obvious that the surface wasn't going to be suited to any kind of total football, although Norsemen still tried and nearly got caught out when a couple of passes went astray on the bobbly pitch. The first 20 minutes ebbed and flowed, Old Parms enjoying more possession without really testing Kalli in the away goal. Despite the home side's possession, it was Norsemen who had the best chance when a long throw from the returning Ross Coleman was flicked towards goal by the head of Darran, but the goalkeeper was equal to it and tipped it acrobatically over the bar. Although it was a fantastic save, the OP keeper was looking increasingly vulnerable underneath the high ball, and it was a cross ingot he box that gave Norse the lead. Shane's free kick was flapped at by the keeper, the ball fell to Shaq who turned in from 6 yards for his second goal in as many appearances. Norse held the lead until the half time whistle, when the talk was about shoring things up and ensuring we didn't concede.
The blue giants managed this for about 5 minutes. Then, a rather tame header from a corner was dropping towards Shane on the back post - everyone expected the midfielder to clear comfortably, but he got his bearings wrong and the ball snuck in between him and the post. 1-1.
From then the game opened up and both teams had a few chances without really playing much football. The introduction of Leroy had given Norsemen a bit more cutting edge and he looked lively up front, forcing one good save from the keeper and giving the defence a few problems. When the next goal came, it was a mistake from the Norsemen defence - a long ball forward was allowed to bounce by George, and the forward managed to get the wrong side, causing the big centre back to tug him back inside the area. Penalty to OP, which the forward tucked away confidently.
With 10 mins to go Norsemen were looking like going out of the cup, but wouldn't give in. They pushed forward and enjoyed the best spell of pressure of the match, and got their rewards when Leroy latched onto a cross from George after the centre back had won a good tackle in the home team's box, and there's only one outcome in a situation like that, and Leroy found the bottom corner. 2-2.
Into extra time we went. A few minutes in, a short corner was worked to Sam, his great cross was met by Olly and his header flew into the top corner, only to have his celebrations cut short by the linesman's flag. 5 minutes later and the home side were back in the lead, the tricky right winger finishing well across Kalli after Norsemen had given the ball away in midfield. 3-2 but still 20 minutes to go for Norsemen to salvage something. They had a chance just before half time, when Leroy was brought down when one in one with the keeper and the blues were awarded a penalty. The ref only saw fit to show a yellow card to the OP centre half, despite him being the last man. Shane stepped up and unfortunately his well struck penalty came back off the bar. There was still time in the second half for more chances at either end, Kalli to get sent off and substitute keeper Weaver to save the resulting penalty, but ultimately there was no equaliser and Norsemen's cup run was over.
Tough to take as we had the chances to score a few more, and all the goals we conceded were avoidable. Back to league action next week at home to Carshalton, where we look to continue our good league form.
MOM - I'm a bit biased but it was great to have Ross Coleman back in the side after a couple of years and there were some glimpses of what he's going to add to the team (if he hadn't pulled his hamstring in extra time!).