An evenly-matched competition at Bilford Road on Saturday morning saw Colts aspirations of a second cup final in as many seasons evaporate as Bobcats progressed on Penalties. Fielding a starting line up of Zac in goal; Dylan, Ollie and Tom at the back; George, Caleb, Nathan and Conner comprising the midfield & Harry up front, with Louis and Josh starting as subs. Cameron was unfortunately ruled out before the match and with Reggie away on (almost) international duty and Ewan away under canvas, Colts found themselves a little depleted.
Starting the stronger, the home team pressed in the first 10 minutes, looking threatening at times and forcing Zac into several smart saves. It was quite obvious that Colts were in for a battle and would have to 'up' their work-rate if they were to get anything out of the game. They duly did - Dylan and Tom both applied themselves well at the back and Ollie found himself busy throughout. George and Harry linked up well on several occasions, and only a combination of some smart goalkeeping and last-ditch defending kept Colts at bay. On more than one occasion the killer ball was cut out by some fortuitous blocking/well positioned defence (depending on your point of view!)
It was far from one-sided however, and an evenly-contested game was largely played out in the middle of the park with a gritty performance conducted by both teams. Bobcats looked particularly dangerous from corners, and it seemed that would be the method they'd make any breakthrough. Nevertheless, Colts held firm - in part due to an assured first half from 'man-of-the-match' Zac who continued to repel anything thrown at him.
Colts best chances of the half came when Harry couldn't quite beat the keeper to the ball in a 'one-on-one', George scooped over from distance, and Caleb did the same after some neat work by Ollie and Nathan from a set-piece.
The second half saw Colt have the Lions share of possession - Josh replaced Conner on the left and made several positive runs down the channel that were ultimately snuffed out by the strength of the Bobcats rearguard. Louis replaced Nathan on the opposite wing and despite some solid industry was also unable to breach the defensive line. With the home teams resolve weakening, Louis covered for the departing Zac in Goal, and Caleb made way for a re-invigorated Conner who threatened to make the difference in the final quarter of the match.
Colts didn't look like conceding in the second period, with Louis rarely being called into action - although he did make a smart stop on the one occasion he was called into action. The Bobcats back-line, however, did a sterling job in restricting the hard-working George and Harry to half-chances and anulling the threat from the ever-busy Conner and Josh as the clock ticked down. The final whistle blew with neither side able to break the deadlock and the game went straight to penalties. Bobcats took first and slotted away each consecutive spot-kick with aplomb; in contrast Colts nerves and fatigue seemed to tell and Perdiswell ran out eventual winners.
A tough pill to swallow maybe, but the team can take away positives and will learn from the experience and can look forward to the rest of the league fixtures, starting with L&B - a match that the boys will be keen to get a result from after the narrow defeat earlier in the season.