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Home to Tillingham Hotspur Cup

Quarter-final day for the VETS as we welcomed the players and two supporters of Tillingham Hotspur to the Peter May centre.Tillingham is a small village not far from Burnham on crouch and at a distance of almost 60 miles from Walthamstow,one can only begin to imagine the "hilarious"..oh stop it.. navigational situations that would have occurred had we been drawn away.As it was our guests had the good sense to travel down in a mini-bus,so although they only arrived at kick-off time they at least turned up together.This gave us the opportunity to get a good warm up in,as the game kicked off as soon as they arrived on the pitch.We hoped to exploit their lack of preparation by playing down the slope in the first half.This decision turned out to be a master stroke as we tore into them from the whistle.Once again the left hand side provided most joy with Trevor and Darren combining to great effect.The visitors,though looking to play a tidy passing game,were clearly well out of sorts in the opening 15 minutes.Inevitably we made the breakthrough,an outswinging corner from the "Dazzler"was met by a thumping header from MARTIN TREADWAY that tore into the net for 1-0.
For once we kept the tempo up as the Hotspurs struggled to get a foothold in the tie,and within five minutes were rewarded when Taju reacted first to bring a high bouncing ball under control and in one movement slip a pass between two defenders into the path of MARTIN TREADWAY who finished clinically for his 20th of the season.
At 2-0 the game was now ours to lose and although the visitors rallied and began to come into the contest we rarely looked likely to concede.Such was our dominance that some wasteful moments in front of goal weren't greeted with the usual howls of anguish and finger pointing.We just carried on as we had been doing.Some superb interplay between Suhail,Paul O,Trevor and Martin coupled with an excellent cross from Darren was crowned by a cool finish from SEAN WINDEATT,ghosting in at the far post for 3-0.
Instead of settling nerves and relaxing everyone,having the semi-final in our hands seemed to bring out the worst aspects of our game,and the final ten minutes was played out against a background of some very undignified moaning and whining which had an adverse effect on our football.The whistle came as sigh of relief.
H-T: HALE END ATHLETIC 3
       TILLINGHAM HOTSPUR 0                      
The jist of the half-time "discussion" was that we need to stick together for what will be a literal uphill battle in the second period,and..courtesy of Hils.."yes,Martin moans a bit,GET OVER IT!!"
As expected with the slope in their favour Tillingham came at us like a runaway lorry load of anvils.Playing with more belief than earlier they began to look a lot more dangerous.From our point of view,though we'd got off each others back,our previous  composure had also evaporated.
Tillingham pulled one back in a slightly fortunate manner;what at first appeared to be a hopeful cross from the right hand corner of the area catching out Gary Doodes and sailing over him into the net...3-1.Now was the time to really dig in,but we were dealt the harshest blow when,to everyone's surprise,a seemingly innocuous challenge on the edge of the box was inexplicably deemed to be a penalty by the otherwise excellent referee.A scuffed effort found the back of the net for 3-2 and we faced a last twenty with just a one goal advantage.It wasn't pretty but we dug in and frustrated the visitors,with Gary Doodes putting his body on the line with two brave challenges.The second of which left him practically immobilised for the final ten.Our attacks were sporadic,MT shaving the post from close range,as Tillingham forced a series of corners.With the clock ticking down,and the visitors pushing more players forward,one of those corners was desperately hacked away,finding Martin in space half way inside our half.Controlling the ball instantly,he raced away upfield,and despite the attention of a clutch of defenders,delivered a pin-point cross onto the head of DARREN FOSS who powered home for 4-2..
Tillingham had gambled and lost,and luck was on our side again in the dying seconds when a speculative shot hit the inside of the post,came back across the face of goal and was ushered to safety.
Shortly followed by the sweetest of final whistles.

Final Score:HALE END ATHLETIC 4
               TILLINGHAM HOTSPUR 2

You can only guess at how things might have turned out if Tillingham arrived in time to prepare and warm up properly.We quite rightly used the situation to our advantage and in the second half got a taste of what they were capable of.We got behind each other when we were under the cosh and that as much as anything is the reason we have a semi-final to look forward to.

Man of the Match: Gary Doodes As well as some tremendous saves, took two big hits for the green shirt.(a luminous light green shirt in his case)

Team:G.DOODES,S.WINDEATT T.BURTON,K.WHITWORTH H.FRANCIS,B.SMITH,S.BUTT P.OBINKWO,D.FOSS,T.OYEDEJI M.TREADWAY, H.HASSAN, R.GAYLE, P.LAUGHE  ,B.HOWARD.

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