Everything seemed to be going wrong – Dan Bennett suspended, Eddie Dsane cup tied, Ollie Cook injured, Louie…well, you know, and then about twenty minutes in we lost Reece Hall to what looked like a bit of a nasty knock. As soon as Reece was helped off the pitch, it felt like our chances of scoring went with him.
Whilst we had our usual bigger share of possession, Leamington created more and better chances. We were working exceptionally hard as is normal but unable to create much that was dangerous. Set pieces looked like our best chance of getting some joy, there are a number of K’s players who are quite decent with the dead ball, but too often when we hauled ourselves into a threatening position, the Leamington defence stood tall and were able to clear.
So when the Brakes opened the scoring early in the second half, it seems as if there was a cross into the box that was turned into his own net by Fabio Saraiva but there were several Leamington players around that would have done the job had the bounce of the ball been fairer to our guy, for large swathes of the second stanza it looked like another cup run was quietly coming to a conclusion.
And then weird happened. As I wrote on the K’s website at the time, it was one of those “I’ve seen it but don’t believe it” moments. I still don’t believe it, nearly 48 hours later. It was a monumentally bonkers goal. Harsh in a way on Leamington who had done everything right for so long to keep our chances down to the barest minimum, but a fine reward for the effort that our guys were putting into the game.
It was the 90th minute, the substitution board had just gone up to signify a minimum of three minutes of added time, and Dan Hector had the ball. He had put several crosses into the box that were either miscontrolled by our forward line or cleared by their solid defensive line, he was causing issues but not really getting the end product from his team mates. Suddenly, he went past someone, and, it looked like about five to ten yards away from the corner flag, close to the sideline (it was the other side of the pitch to me so I don’t actually know…), he blasted a cross into the box with the effort scale pointing to eleven. Was it a cross, was it a shot, what the heck was it? I still say that no way was it a deliberate shot, but what happened was that the ball loudly smashed into the far post and before the Leamington goalkeeper had a chance to move, the ball was in the net.
There was a definite moment or two between goal being scored and goal being either celebrated or mourned, depending on what team was being cheered on. Out of nothing, we had clawed our way back into the game and we were still in the competition.
The replay is going to be very challenging indeed and will require an absolute masterpiece of preparation and tactics from our management team. A win is absolutely not out of the question, but the Brakes will of course be favourites, being a division higher than us and playing at home. But we’ve won games this season that beforehand you wouldn’t have believed that we had an earthly, this will be in the same category if it happens. Unfortunately I won’t be in attendance tomorrow night, but I will probably be watching the flashing scores on the interweb. Our prospective opponents, either Bath City or familar foes Concord Rangers, will be playing at the same time and will host the winners of our game in the next round on 8th February, it will be a very interesting tie regardless of which of the four possibilities will come out after the two replays.
A very action packed season continues, I may need a lie down soon…