United made the long journey to Colsterworth in the Quarter Final of the Challenge Cup – a journey which was our furthest travel this season so far. Buoyed by the win last week against title rivals Woodhall Spa, United looked to continue their good form in the cup. The game also also saw a welcome return for Jack Minor in goal.
The game began in a lively fashion with United taking the play directly to Colsterworth. Lots of neat, passing football opening up the Colsterworth defence and keeping them on the back foot. It only took 5 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. A break by Danny Wilkes was halted when he was felled in the area. Danny stepped up to convert the resulting penalty by sending the keeper the wrong way. This goal gave United the edge they needed and to continue with their pressing style of play. On 14 minutes, a poor clearance by the replacement Colsterworth keeper was intercepted by John Courtney who cleverly chipped the keeper from distance to make it 2-0 to United. At this point United were firmly in charge and a constant threat to the Colsterworth goal.
A long clearance by the home keeper was collected by the Colsterworth midfield but the run was halted when a free kick was awarded. From the free kick, the Colsterworth forward hit the free kick of his life and it flew into the top of the net. 2-1 United. This gave the home side a lift and prompted the to push beyond their own half. Colsterworth were playing an attacking style using both wings but the United defence held firm.
As the second half restarted, United were looking to tie the game up and continued to press but at times the passing let them down. Too many misplaced passes gave the home side more of the play than United would have liked. The 2 goal advantage was restored on 68 minutes when the ever-dangerous Kurt Crossley was picked out by John Courtney after some great work on the left. Kurt side-stepped his marker and fired home in to the corner of the net to make it 3-1 United.
The introduction of Zak Bray and Karl Minor for United only piled the pressure on the home side, as the running of Bray was too much for the defence to cope with. United increased their lead when, after another tricky run, Bray was tripped on the edge of the area. John Courtney stepped up to place the resulting free kick neatly into the corner of the net for his second and United’s 4th of the game.
By this point, the home side were tiring and the United front line were causing endless problems. On 85 minutes, Zak Bray got his reward as he was well-placed to slot home the measured pass from Man of the Match, Kurt Crossley.
The win saw United advance to the semi-final of the Challenge cup. At times a scrappy game, with neither side able to keep control of the ball for any period of time It also, at times saw some sublime football from United with clever, passing play which Colsterworth had no answer for.
Team: Jack Minor, Alex Kendrick, Keaton Grainger, Daniel Wager, Jamie Lyall, Rhys Mansell, Kurt Crossley, Michael Hardy (Karl Minor), Matt Charles (Zak Bray), John Courtney, Danny Wilkes
Hodgkison’s Man of the Match was awarded to Kurt Crossley