From a Prescot Cables perspective, you could take your pick of football clichés used to describe knockout football matches; ‘Smash and grab’, ‘no Wembley fairy-tale this year’, ‘it’s never over until it’s over’. Perhaps the most fitting one to describe Saturday’s defeat at Halesowen comes from the greatest football manager of all time “football, bloody hell!”
It was so close, so so very close, yet, it was not to be. The road to Wembley is closed, at least for this season. Prescot Cables came away from Halesowen wondering just how they managed to lose a game they not just controlled, they dominated, for 89 minutes.
Cables took the lead in the third minute. Josh Klein-Davies was able to control the ball with his back to goal, with some good close control he was able turn, shoot and find the bottom corner of the net. Was a ‘giant killing’ on the cards?
Cables would go on to have several other good chances in the opening 20 minutes. Jordan Wynne forced debutant ‘keeper Dominic Hill into a good save after a long-range shot in the 10th minute. Chris Almond also forced a save at the near post with a free kick in the 14th minute.
The home side were clearly shocked by how well Cables had started. The visitors were able to dominate possession in midfield with the energetic pair of Wynne and Jack Lenehan pegging Halesowen back in their own half. When the Yeltz did break out, James Cooper and Joe Herbert were both in good form and combined well with Aaron Turner to keep home chances to a minimum.
Cables then had a chance to double their lead on 28 minutes when James Edgar drove into the box, beating two or three defenders and squaring the ball to Klein-Davies, with the whole goal to aim at, yet somehow, Halesowen’s full back Jack Kelly (more on him later) was able to block the shot and divert the ball wide, suffering what seemed like a broken nose in the process. Agonising.
Still the chances came for Cables, Chris Almond spurned two good chances in the space of four minutes before Klein-Davies forced another good save from Hill.
‘If you don’t take your chances, it will come back to haunt you’. Sure, enough for Cables it did come back and haunt them in the 37th minute. The ball appeared to go out of play off a Halesowen player, yet the linesman gave a corner, deeming Michael Monaghan to have touched it last. The resulting corner saw home striker Lewis Reilly score a simple tap in at the near post.
The second half was more of the same, Jack Lenehan had two good chances to score before finally Cables’ domination paid off in the 66th minute.
James Edgar again drove forward and exchanged passes with Monaghan on the edge of the box before picking out Klein-Davies. There would be no mistake this time, another turn, another shot, another goal in the bottom corner. 2-1 Cables, and no more than they deserved.
Cables could have ‘killed the tie once and for all’ in the 75th minute when they were awarded a penalty in the after Michael Monaghan was brought down in the area. Chris Almond stepped up and… it was saved! The tide was beginning to turn.
The task for Cables now was see the game out. In the second minute of additional time at the end of the match, the ball was pumped long into the Cables area and all Ben Barnes had to do was gather the ball up, run the clock down, and wait for the referee’s full-time whistle.
Yet somehow, that didn’t happen, the ball came loose, a foul was committed, a penalty was converted by Reilly. It was cruel. Very cruel.
Yet it was not over. There would be more heartbreak. Halesowen grabbed the winner with a strike which in all fairness, was worthy of winning any football match. The fullback Kelly, lucky to still be on the pitch after a series of reckless tackles throughout the game, found himself on the left, with one touch he unleashed a left foot strike that was beating Barnes from the moment it left his foot. 3-2. The adventure was over. Football, bloody hell!