ESPA Junior Titans v. Giants
2 - 5
Saturday 26th January 2019
The Giants are through to the last four in the cup after a thoroughly deserved quarter-final victory over the ESPA Junior Titans on the Astroturf in Walton. The boys rose to the occasion to put in their best performance of the season in a thoroughly entertaining and competitive game. The Giants played with a tenacity and exuberance that allowed them to overcome the setback of falling behind to a strong Titans side to overpower their opponents.
Manager Dan had a near full squad to play with and his selections helped to ensure that all the boys contributed to an excellent team display. Dan rotated the team playing to the boys strengths with Seb and Eli provided a formidable backline, Tom, Zai, Julius and Noah taking turns in midfield to deliver a mix of grit and creative endeavour and Charlie and Josh providing attacking threat up front. Jake, Julius, Seb and Noah took turns in goal with great saves from Julius and Noah crucial to the result. It was however Jake’s masterful display in midfield that provided the platform for the victory. His reading of the game, energy and tackling provided protection for the backline and his penetrating runs allowed the team to quickly turn defence to attack.
The boys knew they were in for a tough match from the off. The Titans are an organised side and pressed the Giants back straight from the kick off. They were immediately on the offensive forcing several early corners. The boys repelled these early attacks but were unable to break through the Walton side’s stout defence. The Giants were unlucky to go behind when a couple of deflections presented an opportunity to the Titans striker and he duly dispatched the chance. The Giants nearly fell further behind when the Titans struck the post soon after.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern with the evenly matched sides battling for supremacy. Noah hit a post and Josh came close on several occasions with the decisive interventions of the Titans excellent defender saving the Walton side. The Giants finally drew level when Josh broke free of the Titans backline to shoot past the keeper into the corner. The Walton side responded and almost restored their lead only for Julius to thwart them with a point blank save. 1-1 at half time.
Both managers switched their teams at half time and this favoured the Giants who were able to find more space in midfield. After dominating the opening minutes of the quarter the Giants were however lucky to take the lead when Josh’s corner flew straight over the Titans keeper and into the net. The Giants were on top and pressing to extend their lead, Charlie, Josh and Jake both came close before a moment of magic from Josh secured his hat-trick and a 3-1 lead for the boys. Picking the ball up on the right wing inside the defensive half Josh skipped past several challenges before unleashing a strike across the Titans keeper into the far corner. There was still time for the Giants to extend their lead and again it was Josh who got the goal, his fourth of the game, this time from inside the box.
The game settled in the early stages of the final quarter and the Giants fans were already looking towards the semi-finals when a rare defensive lapse allowed the Walton side to reduce the deficit to two goals. With hope restored the Titans pressed forward and forced several fine saves from Noah, now playing in goal. The boys were however in no mood to concede their hard won lead and restored their three goal advantage when Seb broke free of the defence to strike the Giants fifth of the day and ensure victory.
Team: Charlie, Eli, Jake, Josh, Julius, Noah, Seb, Tom, Zai
Goalscorers: Josh (4), Seb
Man of the match: Jake
Reporter: Hu Dano