Sporting Khalsa 2-2 The Mikes (3-5 on pens)
By The Mikes
Mikes win full blooded semi-final
An all action, full blooded encounter saw the Mikes into their first Walsall Senior Cup Final since 2008. With a sense of occasion surrounding the tie, Stuart Grosvenor opted for experience: youngster Luke McGinnell began on the bench, as did Jason Holmes.
First blood looked to be drawn by the hosts. With only three minutes gone, our old friend Mykel Beckley picked up a good pass through the middle, leaving Harry Craven in his wake. A first attempt at a tackle nearly brought him down: the second did, and our referee was pointing to the spot. Would Harry be sent off for preventing a clear scoring chance? He survived with a booking. Sean Williams stepped up to take the spot kick - and a fine diving two handed save by Lewis Fenney kept the ball out. As the rain began to fall on a chilly evening, Boldmere were evidently under instruction to “get stuck in “, and the game proceeded (as it did throughout) at 100 m.p.h. Boldmere went close, through Rikardo Reid and Luke Shearer, before taking the lead on nine minutes. A Shearer cross found Owen Parry who, after a moment’s juggling, found the net from ten yards. A minute later he nearly doubled his tally, a swerving effort pushed round the post by home keeper Arnold. Khalsa had two men marking Shearer - with good cause. Crosses from him found Jack Skinner and Reid, but neither could show sufficient control to turn chances into further goals. At the other end, winger Mensah Kinch and full back Carlo Franco were combining effectively down the right, and a smart stop from Fenney saved a sliced clearance on 25 minutes. Strange industrial noises, meanwhile, were drifting over the far bank. By the sounds of it, they were destroying more than they were making! With 34 minutes gone, a beautiful curving free kick put Beckley in with a good heading chance on the far post. He went down under a challenge from Alister Brauns, and Khalsa were howling for a penalty. Arms were raised, the linesman appealed to; but the referee was not moved. The dull truth was that he’d gone down as he and his opponent had both gone for the ball; but tempers were rising by now, and our officials had their work cut out to keep things under control. In the ensuing emotional heat, the visitors’ concentration dropped, and passes started going astray. Even so, before half time they created three problems for the home defence: a powerful Alister Brauns effort was palmed round the post; Reid nearly converted a first touch cross from Shearer; and an accurate free kick had to be put away for a corner. Half time: Sporting Khalsa 0 Boldmere St Michaels 1; in the other semi-final, Sutton Coldfield Town 0 Lye Town 0.
Half time instructions to the homesters was obviously “get stuck in as much as your opponents “, and they emerged with evident purpose to make the game their own. Even so, Boldmere were looking dangerous on the break, Arnold having to immediately save from Usher-Shipway, another of his shots slithering across the goalmouth. Meanwhile, Beckley was flying through the middle again: Harry Craven earned a second yellow card for bringing him down. Khalsa now turned the screws on the Mikes defence, and Jack Skinner entered the referee’s book after a wild sliding tackle on 57 minutes. Skinner was replaced by Ryan Shaw five minutes later, as Boldmere “shawed” up their resistance. Balls were dispatched out of defence into the middle distance: I wouldn’t fancy being the person who has to penetrate the thorn-laden forest in which some of them now lie! As Boldmere desperately tried to stem the yellow and blue tide that threatened to engulf them, there were more yellow cards for Craig Milligan (foul on Beckley, 63 minutes) and for Owen Parry three minutes later - though, since the resultant free kick went our way, its award remains something of a mystery. The Mikes were still looking dangerous on the break, and doubled their tally with three quarters of the contest passed. Joe Lyng rose to a perfectly placed Usher-Shipway corner, and headed inside the back post. This served only to increase Khalsa’s resolve, and within two minutes had pulled a goal back. The ball was bobbling round the Boldmere box, and was latched on to by Dave Meese, whose shot hit the rear stanchion and came straight back out - evoking silent surprise from all onlookers! With their tails up now, Khalsa went for the win, and five minutes later were level, substitute Jay Holdcroft bundling home after a Sean Williams centre was headed back from the far post. The sizeable Boldmere contingent now got behind their team as they continued to look capable of snatching a winner. As tension mounted, and nerves frayed, a villain of the piece was identified - the referee! Dave Travers was generous in his advice from the touch line, while it seemed to some Boldmerians that the poor man had become suddenly afflicted in the ocular department. Your correspondent, having spent the morning ploughing through numerous referee’s Reports, seemed to think that he’d heard some of the words used in advice, earlier in the day! Out on the park, Usher-Shipway was nearly on target with a well taken half chance; loud corporate appeals for a penalty, as Lyng went down in the box, were waved away; an excellent double save by Sam Arnold denied the marauding Usher-Shipway; while an absolute steamer, from twenty yards, was athletically pushed away by Fenney. Full time had arrived, and penalties would decide the issue. At Coles Lane, the Royals and the Flyers had finished all square, at 1 - 1.
After lengthy deliberations, Boldmere took first shot. Usher-Shipway and Holmes (brought on as a late substitute for this task) put their penalties away efficiently. Sean Williams (who’d been Khalsa’s most dangerous forward) then decided the tie by screwing his shot wide. Exaltation among the visiting support soon gave way to anxiety: would the rest of their marksmen find the net? Owen Parry’s shot was soft, but crept under Arnold to count; Dave Meese then kept Khalsa in touch: Reid’s response was cheekily accurate; Jay Holdcroft made no mistake. At 4 - 3, Boldmere would be home and dry...if penalty number 5 went in. Recently out of form Ryan Shaw placed the ball...and scored. Relief and joy were mixed as realisation sunk in that Boldmere had reached their first Final in over a decade. News arrived that the Royals had won their shoot out 4 - 1. Had there ever been an all Sutton Coldfield Final before? We’ll have to consult the archives! May 7th should be interesting....
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney, Alister Brauns (Jason Holmes 90+2), Reece Mitchell, Craig Milligan, Harry Craven, Joe Lyng, Ben Usher-Shipway, Owen Parry, Rikardo Reid, Jack Skinner (Ryan Shaw 62), Luke Shearer. Subs not used: Harry Buttery, Luke McGinnell, Steve Simpson