Birkbeck Orient 3 Ernie’s Young Guns 3. Birkbeck Orient won 4-3 on penalties
Paul Pether reports
BIRKBECK ORIENT celebrated a long-awaited first cup win this Sunday, surviving an epic encounter at Chiswick with the accountants of Ernie’s Young Guns.
In the first round of the London Sunday Junior Cup the lads from Ernst and Young, a tall and rangy side, dominated the opening exchanges. Rich was called into action, pushing away a goal-bound cross, but then the Os began to find more fluidity as makeshift striker Sam did well under great pressure.
Both sides looked defensively secure throughout the first half. Just before the interval, left-winger Mark was felled in the box by two Young Guns but the referee ignored Birky’s cries for a penalty. Stalemate at halftime.
The Os knew they were knocking on the door, and came out for the second half fired up. And within 30 seconds of the restart, they took the lead with a neat team goal after a deft touch from Sam, the influential Charlie sent Mark through on goal, and he produced a clinical finish past the keeper.
Birky were now in the ascendancy, but the Guns broke their momentum with an equaliser on the counter-attack. A forward got to the byline, jinked past a couple of clumsy tackles and drilled in a low cross, which deflected off Mac’s foot and into the net.
The Os responded well to this setback, the centre midfield trio of Dave, Charlie and Chris driving the team forward. The Guns repelled plenty of attacking throw-ins and corners, but Birky’s pressure eventually paid off when Mac lashed the ball home from a corner to make the score 2-1.
It seemed the Os were going to extend their lead, but again the Guns equalised against the run of play. Kiel made a superb slide tackle to prevent a chance on goal, but the referee saw it differently and gave a free kick 25m out. After the ref moved the Birky wall back about 13m, a Guns midfielder cracked the ball into the top corner with the outside of his boot. An excellent goal.
Birky continued to have most of the possession and territory in the closing stages, but just couldn’t force the ball home. A few potshots flew just wide and a glancing header was cleared off the line by the time the 90 minutes was up.
And so to extra time. As legs tired and the game opened up, it was Birky who looked likelier to edge ahead. Sure enough, the Os took the lead for the third time — the Guns keeper could only push a Chris corner into the path of Kiel, who managed to steer the ball home from 10m.
Surely Birky could hold on to the lead this tim? Kiel had a great chance to kill off the tie when the ball fell to him 6m out, but he lofted his shot off the keeper’s fingertips and just over the bar.
With minutes to go, the Guns summoned up a dramatic equaliser — there were shades of their second goal, as the referee awarded another questionable free kick, and this time a midfielder ghosted in to glance a header past Rich.
Birky pressed for another goal but just could not convert a number of dangerous throw-ins and crosses. The final whistle blew and the Os found themselves were facing their first penalty shootout.
Tensions were high as the first Young Gunner stepped up. He nervously scuffed his shot down the middle and Rich blocked with his legs to give Birky the advantage. Chris then hit an unstoppable spot kick for 1-0. After the Guns scored their second penalty, their keeper pushed Joe’s effort on to the post to restore parity. But the keeper then undid his good work by smacking his penalty off the crossbar. Charlie capped off a fine performance by blasting the ball home for 2-1.
The Young Guns pulled one back, but Mark tucked away his penalty to put Birky on the brink. The Guns made no mistake with their fifth penalty, leaving Kiel to take the decisive kick… and he sent the keeper the wrong way, sparking wild celebrations from the Os. They had finally broken their cup hoodoo.
The Os now await details of their opponents in round 2.
Squad: Rich Critchlow, Martin Durant, Mac Page, Kiel Mellor, Joe Latimer, Dave Corck-Adelman, Chris Agathangelou, Charlie Hopkinson, Dan Mpasi, Mark Pether, Sam Steele, Darren Trippick, Frankie Fitzpatrick, Sam Durron.
Man of the match: Charlie Hopkinson
Venue: University of Westminster sports ground, Chiswick.
Next match: to be announced. The photograph shows halftime in another game.