The One That Came So Close

Forest Town 0 Eastwood Town 1

Nottinghamshire Senior Cup Semi Final

For my sins, this was my first visit to Forest Town, despite it being a ten minute drive from my house. And I was charmed, I have to say.

The Nottinghamshire Senior Cup is not a competition that enlivens my soul much. Least, not until last minute winners in the Final anyway. But at the business end of the competition, the underdogs do try a little bit more, and the "names" are less inclined to coast it. And so it was last night.

After several years of progression on and off the pitch, Eastwood Town have finally stalled this season. There was a time when they were looking at yet another promotion, but like their namesakes in North Notts (and holders of this prestigious trophy, lest we forget) The Badgers have found the latest new level tougher than those that preceded them. They're not out of the race, but it hasn't been the table-topping panorama they've been used to in recent years.

Forest Town meanwhile continue to plod along in the Central Midlands, without unduly worrying either end of the table. That's a gap of 5(?) leagues between the two. A dead cert, surely?

Well, no, in a word. Without descending in to tired footballing cliches too readily, the opportunity to match their wits against more illustrious names emboldened the home side, and coupled with a resolutely defence line-up, their big-spending visitors could not break them down.

It was a game of few chances, but those that came fell mostly to Eastwood, as you might expect. But balls were blazed high, wide and handsome on these occasions, and with every miss Forest Town must have felt their luck was in. Had the lone striker been more mobile, they may well have caused the great hulking back line of Eastwood more problems (seriously, huge guys. Potty mouthed too) As it was Forest were reliant upon the guile of Craig Jackson in the centre to pull the strings. And pull them he did. If he plays like this every week, then he is surely better than his current surroundings (no offence intended)

Midway through the second half, Forest Town introduced a sprightly young thing known as "TJ". It was perhaps telling of their luck as the night wore on that their best chances fell to the young lad, who was clearly scared shitless at the thought of doing something memorable. And yet he came so near. With fifteen minutes to go he latched on to a long ball, lobbed the advancing keeper and.... hit the post. Agonisingly close. And nothing Forest Town would not have deserved, for their doggedness if nothing else.

All too often sides at this level play direct football, and hope to latch on to scraps from free kicks and throw ins. Forest Town passed the ball confidently and with a precision that belied their status. All they needed was a a bit of movement up front.

With extra time looming, Eastwood continued to press, no doubt fearing the rollicking they would be getting for failing to put their plucky opponents to the sword. A corner on the right wasn't cleared properly and somehow the ball ended up in the net via means that completely escape my memory. Sorry. You read all that, and then I let you down. I suspect that a more fulsome overview will be on the Eastwood Town official site at some point, who knows?

So Eastwood Town progress to the final, where they face Retford United in a repeat of last year's Badger-tastic escapade. It's on Monday May 10th, fixture fans. At Notts County's place. Can't miss it. Big black thing, down by the river.

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