By Kevin Forbes
Bloaters Knocked Out On Penalties
The Bloaters travelled to the FDC for this Norfolk Senior Cup game without cup-tied strikers McAra and Attree. By contrast the students of UEA called up centre backs Black and George for only their third appearances of the season and Hassan for his fourth. Given that the students had two big games in 24 hours this would be a huge demand on their resources. A downpour just before kick-off had made the FDC pitch soggy if not a slick surface to play football on.
The Bloaters kicked off and immediately put themselves under pressure as some slack play made Putnins rush a clearance. Howell had to be alert to make a challenge as the students played the ball through midfield into the heart of the Yarmouth defence. At the other end Hunter got past his man and put in a telling cross that went unchallenged, as the Bloaters struggled to get an early foothold in the game. Luke Young was looking dangerous for the UEA as he sent in a good cross into the Bloaters’ penalty area and then Siemienczuk fired in a fierce shot on the angle that Putnins saved, as the students gained an early grip on the game. In the fifteenth minute Swatman’s free-kick found the head of skipper Ager and his header found the net to give the Bloaters the lead, somewhat against the early run of play. A minute later there was a controversial incident as Siemienczuk earned himself a yellow card for a blatant dive that incensed the Yarmouth players and travelling support.
However the students didn’t have to wait much longer for the equaliser, a free-kick was fired low into the Yarmouth area and Young deflected the ball past Putnins to make it 1-1. In a frantic spell the Bloaters were ahead again after two more minutes when Hunter powered in a header past Smith to regain the lead for the Bloaters. UEA continued to apply the pressure and looked very good going forwards particularly with the silky skills of Hassan and Young on the flanks. Their passing was crisp and incisive and at times the Bloaters struggled to hold onto their lead. Jamie Smith had a good chance as his header went straight at the goalkeeper from another Hunter cross. With the game heading towards half-time Hassan picked the ball up thirty yards from goal and hit a superb strike that found the top corner, to put the students level to the delight of their vociferous supporters. Just before half-time Swatman hit the bar with a header that was ruled out for offside and the Bloaters would have been grateful to get in at half-time on parity after a fine first half display by UEA.
HT Great Yarmouth 2 UEA 2
The Bloaters looked a different side in the second half as Swatman and Hunter interchanged passes before the latter put in another dangerous cross that flashed across goal. Swatman was becoming more influential after a quiet first half, and he put in a good ball to Smith but the big striker couldn’t retain possession of the ball, and the chance was snuffed out by a resolute UEA defence. Hunter again delivered another fine cross but to no avail, and then there was let-off as Putnins came out to claim a free-kick and looked like he was fouled, but the play went on and Yarmouth managed to scramble the ball away eventually. Putnins than had a clearance charged down that almost saw the ball find the net, but instead went past the post. Dangerman Hassan then fired in a powerful effort that was deflected over the bar and then Putnins made a great save from a good run and shot by Clark. At the other end Hunter fired over from 20 yards and then substitute Wing almost got on the end of another telling cross by Hunter. Yarmouth were much better in the second period but unable to make a breakthrough as Blake hit another shot wide. With ten minutes left Wing played a great through ball to Hunter who fed the ball to Smith but again the shot narrowly missed the target, and Hunter again brought a save from goalkeeper Smith as he shot from a tight angle. Howell made a fine last-ditch challenge to deny UEA as tired legs became a factor in the game. Swatman rifled in a drive narrowly wide and then spotted Smith off his line and tried an audacious shot from forty yards that had the young ‘keeper scrambling across his goal to deny the Bloaters’ midfielder a spectacular goal. A pulsating, end to end second half was brought to end by referee Stearman who had handled the first ninety minutes well, to take the game into extra-time.
Score after 90 mins. 2-2
Putnins made a fine save from a Hassan shot in the first period of extra-time and then Bloaters’ skipper Ager volleyed in a powerful shot after the ball fell kindly to him from a corner, however the ball whistled over the UEA crossbar. Jamie Smith then tried his luck with a spectacular overhead kick that went wide of the upright as both sides searched for an elusive winner. The Bloaters were delighted to see Hassan leave the field as he was instrumental in a lot of the good work by the UEA , although substitute Conway shot wide from a good position as soon as he came on. The Bloaters had a big shout for a penalty as Bobby took a kick on his shin pads, but referee Stearman waved away all the appeals.
The second half of extra-time was all UEA, as first Maw struck the bar after great work by Young and then Putnins made two great saves from Young and then Stone as the students looked the more likely to score the winner. Any last hope the Bloaters had of winning the game was dashed when Ager was sin-binned for dissent and the Bloaters had to play the remainder of the game with ten men. Young had another good effort saved and then Kendrick had a great chance from fifteen yards but blasted over in the dying minutes as the Bloaters tired. However they hung on and kept the scoreline even and so the game went to penalties
FT After Extra Time Great Yarmouth 2 UEA 2
The penalty shoot was evenly contested with both goalkeepers making vital saves, but the Uni men triumphed and went through 5-4 on penalties to send their young supporters home happy with a date at Carrow Road to look forward to, in the Norfolk Senior Cup Final.
For the Bloaters and their numerous travelling fans, a disappointing night was summed up by Manager Rob McCombe “Firstly I’d like to pay thanks to the magnificent support from Yarmouth fans throughout the game – the lads are truly gutted to not repay that with a final. In a tight game with such close margins penalties always looked on the cards – though I felt we had a stonewall penalty against Seumas Bobby in extra time denied. I’m proud of the squad who will learn from this and continue to improve.”
FT 2-2 (UEA win 5-4 on penalties)
Bloaters : Putnins Wenn George Howell Ager © Blake Hunter Bobby Goodwin-Wright Swatman Smith Subs : Wing Holmes Hodge K.McCombe Nicholls