Hove Park Year 7 kicked off 2018 with a last 16 tie against a strong Downlands side.
The new kit was unveiled for this fixture. Hove Park had not played a home game for three games and had been given a two week rest over Christmas. After their first ever defeat in the last game it was vital that they responded.
The same tactics of a high line with lots of pressing didn’t have the same effect as in previous games. Downlands had a strong back line with some very talented midfielders. Hove Park struggled to create any meaningful chances until an unusually quite Josh M sprung to life to deliver a great square pass that Dylan G slotted home. 1-0 at the break.
The second half began with Hove Park dominating the play and soon managed to break Downland hearts with a brilliant team goal. Hove Park were rather fortunate to be 2-0 up at this point however. The Christmas break seems to have damaged some fitness levels.
Downlands were then constantly on the attack. They managed to get one back when Hove Park failed to clear their lines, although still in the lead Hove Park were struggling to contain the powerful Downlands players. Then a cross that looked offside only for their striker to miss the ball and it nestled in the side of the net, goal given. 2-2. How would they respond?
Up stepped ever reliable Adian E scoring a brilliant individual goal, with not long left it was all hands on deck at the back. Downlands couldn’t break into the penalty area. So Downlands star player picked up the ball and smashed a shot from 20 yards, clipping the bar and in. The team looked deflated, to be pegged back once again. With fatigue setting in and extra time looming there was concern from the bench.
Full time 3-3
Into extra time. A tactical switch was made with Joe K being pushed up from the back and into central midfield. It gave the side new energy and Hove Park managed to begin to create some chances, a corner was won, the centre backs went up. The corner was dropped on a packed six yard box and it bounced in off a Downlands defender. 4-3
It was then a case of seeing the game out and Hove Park used their winning mentality to finally see them through.
Full time an epic 4-3 win
Man of the Match went to Captain fantastic Rupert P for a heroic display at the back.
Hove Park have now drawn St Andrews away in the quarter final.
They are in action against Blatchington Mill next week in the Town Cup, they then have an away National Elite Cup Match in Croydon and are due to represent Brighton District at an Olympic Park Venue at the end of January in a 5 aside tournament.
Congratulations to the team for pulling through. They were not at their best today but still managed to grind out a result. Well done.