Football Cuppers: All The King’s Men Can’t Stop Downing
Downing squeeze past King’s to progress to the quarter finals of Cuppers. BEN MCNALLY reports.
Downing came out on top in a scrappy affair, with goals from Guest and Stevens enough to send them through to the next round of the cup with a 2-0 victory.
This Cuppers match was arguably the pick of the ties beforehand, pitting second-placed Downing against King’s, who currently lie in fifth in Division 1. However, very blustery conditions put pay to any chance of an open, exciting game of football, and in the end Downing were good value for a hard-fought win. King’s will be left to rue a lack of creativity in the final third that meant they were unable to trouble Matthews for the vast majority of the game. Downing, still in the hunt for second consecutive title, now also have the prospect of a Cuppers quarter final to look forward to, whilst King’s are left to focus on the league.
Downing began in complete control. Set pieces proved to be their most dangerous outlet, with the wind causing the ball to swing dangerously into the King’s box. Captain Dunn saw two headers fly over the bar, and King’s failed to heed this warning. Another Burley delivery was met by Ben Guest at the back post, and he headed home from 6 yards out to give Downing a well-deserved lead.
As the half wore on, King’s began to get a foothold in the game, but struggled to create any chances of note. A loose touch from Putsepp squandered a good opportunity when he was slipped through, and a jinking Watters run ended in a wayward 25-yard drive. But this was the best King’s could come up with in the opening period. The sides headed in at half-time with Downing still holding their one-goal lead.
King’s began the second half with much greater impetus, characterised by their control of possession in the midfield area. Schiebler was unfortunate to see a drive from distance fly just past the post, and Schlesinger spurned a great chance as he volleyed over from 12 yards when a long throw wasn’t dealt with by the Downing defence. Burley cut a frustrated figure up top for Downing, bemoaning his lack of service. However, fatigue seemed to set in for both teams as the half developed, and King’s were unable to push on when they most needed to.
In desperation, King’s went to three at the back as they pushed men forward in search of an elusive equaliser. Gaps in the defence were exposed in unfortunate circumstances 10 minutes from time. Burley drove forward at the heart of the King’s defence but was well challenged, only for the loose ball to roll kindly into the path of Josh Stevens, who made no mistake one-on-one with Greenbury. King’s continued to show plenty of endeavour but the quality was sadly lacking in the final third.
Their day was summed up late on as a brilliant chance for Spivakovsky-Gonzalez at the back post was well-saved by Matthews, and the rebound could only be turned into the side netting. Frustration for King’s but joy for Downing, who march on in a form that bodes well for the rest of the season.