Two games to report on. Saturday the 31st of January saw the 2s play Sandy’s in the Challenge Cup, the 4th time they have played higher league opposition in cup ties this season. All previous encounters were close affairs. On this occasion however the Uni. were left metaphorically kicking themselves at a missed opportunity after surrendering a 2-0 lead. The first half goals came from Andy Thompson whose cross come shot crept in at the far post and from Vince Coleman who rifled home a direct free kick. However for the 3rd time in as many weeks the Uni. were on the receiving end of a goal out of nothing when the ball sat up in the midfield and from 30 yards a Sandy’s player swung a boot at it and it flew into the net. Moments later the spin of the ball deceived Jan Seiler in goal and he could only claw at it in despair as it looped over his shoulder and over the line. At 2-2 it was felt that the Uni. would still score. A perfect opportunity soon presented itself with a penalty kick however Vince Coleman’s effort hit the crossbar. One of the things young teams lack by their nature is experience and LEAFA is peppered with good footballers past their prime maybe but who can ?still do a job”. This was the case with a Sandy’s substitute who did little bar stand on the edge of the home penalty box, collect the ball, make space and shoot. He soon counted to give the premier side a 3-2 advantage. However the 2s have spirit and Joe Darvill finished coolly from a terrific Dan Burchill pass right on the final whistle. Extra time saw Sandy’s win the tie with the same player once again making space for the shot with Jan’s parry falling kindly to a supporting midfielder who finished, breaking Uni. hearts. One that got away.
A welcome return to league action on Valentine?s day saw the 2s facing a Whitburn Bluebell side who had recently beaten the previously undefeated league leaders. A terrific goal, straight from the training ground (for which the coaches take no credit), saw the Uni. take the lead on 15 minutes. Joe Darvill linked beautifully with the midfield with a resultant pass playing in Aaron Hodgson behind the away side?s right back. Aaron’s driven cut-back was fired high into the net by Phil McNicholas who timed his run to perfection. Whitburn however showed they are a good side, their wide players in particular giving the home full backs a torrid time. Ciaran Duffy deputising in goal, ?taking one for the team?, preserved the home lead as he saved twice, the second in particular being noteworthy as he denied a Whitburn striker low at his right hand post. In an almost carbon copy of the first goal Joe Darvill then guided home another Hodgson driven cross to double the Uni. lead just after half time. Whitburn were then reduced to ten men as the their last defender brought down Phil McNicholas on the edge of the penalty box. Aaron passed the resultant free kick into the net with the minimum of fuss. With no available substitutes the away side visibly tired on the large Pefermill plastic pitch. Andy Findlay twice and Phil McNicholas added further goals as the game started to resemble a waves of attack training function. Although the final score reflected the overall balance of play, Whitburn have some very good footballers in their team. If they have a full squad to choose from, the return fixture will be a very different proposition. So far this season the 2s have scored 76 goals with only 2 coming from headers . A real testimony to keep-it-on-the-ground football.