Reserves miss out on final after hard fought defeat

 

Liphook United Reserves suffered the first defeat of their outstanding season on Tuesday night.  Liss was the venue for the league cup semi final and the pitch passed a late inspection.  Paulsgrove were the opposition and they started the stronger, making the early chances and putting Liphook under a lot of pressure. The horrendous weather was hard on the many supporters who made the trip, but the football did not suffer from it.  The pitch was heavy, but the action was good.  After the early pressure, Liphook started to play some good joined up stuff and took the lead with a fine low finish from Oli Graham.

There were a number of, shall we say, enthusiastic tackles coming in from the Paulsgrove lads and at least one of those should have seen a player sent off, but the ref must have been taking the slippery pitch into account, when he just showed yellow instead.  One of these fouls led to Liphook’s second goal, as clear a penalty as you are likely to see.  Matt Grindel stepped up, the keeper made a good save, but Oli Graham was there for the rebound.  2-0 to Liphook and looking good.

Then came the moment which changed the game in my opinion.  A fast attack led to an excellent opportunity for Liphook to go three up, it was probably the best chance of the lot, but it was missed.  After that, Paulsgrove seemed to step up their efforts and within no time had clawed a goal back.  2-1 became 2-2 shortly after and with liphook looking a bit shell-shocked, the refs half time whistle was probably more welcome to Liphook than Paulsgrove.

The second half saw both teams have good early chances, but it was Paulsgrove who took the lead again, a cross swung into the box was not defended very well and the ball dropped to the excellent number 9 just outside the six yard box who slammed it home.

The ressies have a great team spirit and that showed as they doubled their efforts in a bid to get back into it.  A corner was swung in and after a good header, the ball fell to Jack Bicknell who was alert to the chance and buried the ball in the corner.  3-3

Liphook were looking the stronger now and there were a few half chances, but Paulsgrove always looked dangerous.  The number 9 was holding play up very well and the Liphook defence was struggling to deal with him.  A good high through ball beat the defence and there was the number 9 who beat the advancing Juzzy, who perhaps was stuck in no mans land, but he had to try to do something.  He then slid the ball into the empty net. 4-3

Liphook had two very good late chances, one, a good low shot which was superbly saved by the Paulsgrove goalie, who dived full stretch to deny a goal bound effort.  Cracking save that.  Then Mat Grindel latched on to a through ball, took a touch and slid the ball past an advancing keeper.  From where I was, I expected the net to ripple, but the ball must have just missed the far post.  It was not to be, final score 4-3 to Paulsgrove. 

It was a good game on a pudding of a pitch in awful weather.  Well done to everyone for showing up to watch.  The ressies do not have long to try to take revenge.  Paulsgrove will be at the Rec on Saturday and as long as Liphook avoid defeat, the league title will be theirs.  See you there!