The Leeds Mens Football 1s were beaten 1-0 by Manchester Met 2s in the cup on, yet again, a rather chilly afternoon at Weetwood.
Met immediately looked sharp and strong, imposing their direct and pacy game on Uni. The full backs were having to work extremely hard to contain their wingers, and keeper Alex Gunn had already been called into action, making a fine save. Uni had not got their own passing game going quite yet, and were relying more on the sterling efforts of Gunn and centre back Alex Day to keep the score at 0-0.
As the half progressed Uni slowly grew into the game, with Danny Cunningham constantly keeping the Met defenders on their toes. Mike Stockdale and Archie Christie were battling away in midfield, but overall the game was a scrappy affair from then until half time, with neither team creating anything much in the way of goalmouth action.
The most excitement in fact was gained from the antics of the Met bench, and to some extent their players, who seemed to react to every single foul by the a Uni player as if the recipient was lucky to escape with his life. Needless to say, the referee tended not to take too much notice of this. The first shot on target from a Uni player failed to arrive until shortly before the break, Cunningham at last finding a small amount of space in the area and turning, but failing to trouble the Met keeper. Met were themselves looking potentially dangerous from corners, with several loose balls dropping to the edge of the Uni box before being blasted over.
Fortunately the game did improve in the second half, with both teams clearly having been told at the interval in no uncertain terms that performances needed to improve. Christie went close with a clever free kick (choosing to drill it under the wall), before Met had 2 golden chances to take the lead. First, Gunn had to make a flying stop to prevent a curling effort going in the top corner, before a set piece fell invitingly to a Met player no more than 4 yards out, but he could only smash it against the top of the bar and over.
However, Uni were also now creating chances – Stockdale slammed over, Cunningham rounded the keeper but just failed to evade a sliding defender at the crucial moment, and Christie also blazed over. Eventually, someone was bound to take 1 of these chances. Unfortunately it was Met who did finally capitalise one 1 of these moments, and it was an excellent strike. After a frenetic period of play, the ball was fed into the Met striker on the edge of the box in a fairly central position, and he swept it first time right into the bottom corner of the net, finished with finesse.
Coming with only 10 minutes to go, this gave Uni little time to try and find a way back into the game. Despite a late onslaught where virtually all the players were camped in the Met penalty area, they were just unable to work the ball into an area where someone could have that definite shot, and Met dealt well with the aerial bombardment.
At the final whistle the Met players and staff exploded with joy, while the Leeds team looked inconsolable. Improvement is certainly necessary if they intend to avoid similar pain in the league between now and the end of the season.
Image courtesy of Carlotta Grimaldi