Churchill Stun Homerton In Cup Clash
FOOTBALL: The better side were thrashed in a thrilling quarter-final battle between Churchill and Homerton.
An Adam Shield hat-trick saw second division Churchill stun high-flyers Homerton in one of the most one-sided defeats you could ever wish to see, to reach the semi-final of Cuppers.
Homerton, who despite having an incredibly strong squad look like they will be pipped to the league title by Downing, started off well against a home side which offered little going forward.
But, after 10 minutes, and completely against the run of play, Liam Stevens misjudged a ball over the top and Shield raced through to lob the keeper, with the ball bouncing down just centimetres over the line.
The visitors looked to come again, but with time and space a midfielder fired wide from 12 yards after doing well to turn his man.
Barney Mayles on the right wing caused the hosts a few problems with tricky running and some excellent deliveries, but Churchill defended with plenty of heart, and a fair amount of luck. Ryan Stevens should have equalised with a header from a corner, but 8 yards out he put it over the bar.
Then, on the half-hour mark, the unthinkable happened, and Churchill doubled their lead. Shield lined up a free-kick 25 yards from goal, and struck it, as sweetly as you like, into the top corner. If he plays every day for the rest of his life he will probably never hit a better free-kick, and it gave Churchill the boost they needed to get through to half-time with their clean-sheet intact.
After the break, the men in blue were able to exert their dominance still more, but without really troubling the Churchill keeper. The hosts barely got out of their own half, and passing was non-existent, but defensively they remained sound against wave after wave of Homerton pressure.
On 58 minutes the lethal Shield sealed his hat-trick, a somewhat fortuitous strike taking a deflection off a defender’s foot and looping up over the Homerton keeper to make it 3-0.
One might have expected the visiting heads to drop, but such was their dominance that 3 goals didn’t seem an insurmountable task.
Attack after attack, cross after cross, the boys in blue stormed forward, and they eventually got their reward with 25 minutes to play when Ryan Stevens capitalised on a flick-on to head home from 4 yards out.
But despite Homerton’s continued pressure, they couldn’t find a second goal to set up a grandstand finish. Churchill worked their socks off, battling to the last to keep their more talented opponents at bay.
Captain Paddy Sadler shielded the defence superbly, Felix de Grey was exceptional (barring one nasty tackle for which he was booked), whilst the centre-back pair headed and kicked everything that came near them and man of the match Shield worked tirelessly to hold the ball up when they did clear it.
The celebrations at the final whistle said it all, as the players went wild, thrilled by the enormity of their unlikely win. On balance of play there is no way they deserved their victory, but for the effort and commitment they showed, you wouldn’t want to take it away from them.