Pem Down Downing In Giant-Killing Cupset

FOOTBALL: Pembroke turn over first division opposition to reach the Cuppers semi-final. It’s the magic of the cup.

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Division 2 Pembroke stunned the First Division leaders Downing to reach the Cuppers semi-final for the second time in as many years.

At first glance this fixture seemed unlikely to provide an upset, with Pembroke 14 places below Downing in the league ladder. However, both sides have been in great form – both having won their last 5 games, with Pembroke scoring 25 goals in the process and conceding only 2.

Pembroke flew out of the blocks and were rewarded with a goal inside the opening minute. Downing looked half asleep as Pembroke flowed forward from the kick-off, winning a corner after a fine stop from the Downing keeper. Pembroke were not to be denied and a vicious in-swinging ball was bundled in at the back post by fresher Rory Scott. Pembroke were 1-0 up without a Downing outfield player having touched the ball.

This shock clearly woke up a dozy Downing who suddenly realised they were in for a real game here. The early goal had buoyed Pembroke though and it was the away side who had the better opportunities in the first half – seeing several efforts cleared off the line.

The first division side were looking especially shaky against the set piece as Pembroke corners and long throws continued to cause havoc. Downing tried hard to get their passing game going but found it difficult to break down a well-organised Pembroke side.

Downing came out for the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and began to press Pembroke. They enjoyed the majority of territory and possession for most of the second half but could barely fashion any sort of chance. The Downing passing game was simply not working on a bobbly pitch, not conducive to that style of play.

Pembroke were easily able to break up play, whilst looking dangerous themselves on the break. Downing’s solitary effort on target in the match came mid-way through the second half – a weak header straight at the Pembroke keeper – whilst Pembroke again had efforts cleared off the line from set pieces.

The key moment of the match came with 10 minutes to go. With many players committed upfield, a poor first touch saw Downing gift possession to Pembroke winger Pete Harries. He broke forward, exchanged passes with star player Hinksman and calmly slotted into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations from Pembroke players and fans.

The second division side calmly saw out the remaining 10 minutes despite Downing’s best efforts. An impressive, well-organised display against a good Downing side will provide Pembroke with the confidence that they can go all the way in this years cuppers. Pembroke captain Matt Leggett commented “It’s been far too long since Pembroke won Cuppers, and I think this might just be the squad to do it.”‘