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The Fife Cup is a wonderful competition; it’s local derbies all the way! This clash was a classic game of two halves which saw St Johns overturn a halftime deficit to rattle in 3 goals without reply to progress to the next round. AM Soccer will look back and wonder why they didn’t match their hosts in the 2nd half but should take some comfort from their performance before the break. St Johns, on the other hand, can be pleased with their 2nd half display in particular, on a day when the sun eventually shone brightly on the town and possibly, to their benefit, in the eyes of the AM goalkeeper.
AM Soccer kicked off and it was quickly apparent both these teams could play attractive football. Early exchanges were full of good control, passing and intelligent use of space. St Johns were first to threaten, Paterson firing a ball across the box but unfortunately behind the onrushing Macduff, and the chance was lost.
AM Soccer took the lead on 6 minutes after a poor clearance from defence cannoned off the sprightly Urban, and the no.9 closed in on goal himself, slotting neatly low to ‘keeper Wallace’s right to gain early advantage.
As the half progressed much of the game took place in midfield, where St Johns looked to be somewhat shy in the tackle at times, allowing AM Soccer more possession and more time on the ball to use their pace. Urban, Watters and Houston were showing well for the visitors although St Johns Corbett was also showing well in defence with a few crucial last tackles to prevent further damage to the scoreline.
As the sun began to warm the spectators St Johns settled into their game a bit more with Marshall starting to exert influence, and enjoyed sustained periods of pressure without ever really threatening, suffocating themselves by playing too close and almost exclusively up the right channel. AM Soccer were quicker on the break and moved the ball just as quickly with Robertson showing skill in defence, Houston quick on the wing and the ever busy Urban darting around in the middle.
As the half hour mark passed St Johns finally started to close in on the AM Soccer goal and in the space of 5 minutes saw a couple of shots narrowly past the post and a wickedly inswinging corner held by ‘keeper Wishart on the line. Their preference for playing the ball to feet was actually stifling them, and often an earlier or quicker ball would have unlocked the AM defence.
The visitors on the other hand whilst pacy, tended to attack with only two men, and so too often conceded possession. As the halftime whistle sounded the visitors were 1 goal to the good, and this reporter was looking forward to the 2nd half.
Half Time: St Johns 0-1 AM Soccer
St Johns had clearly worked out what they needed to do to take the game back to the visitors as on the restart they immediately began releasing the ball earlier and switching play from their preferred right wing. Paterson went close with a shot and then turned provider on 47 minutes when he lofted a precise cross to the head of Marshall, who headed down and past the keeper to level the scores.
This was a different St Johns. They were quicker, they made better use of space and they switched the play from wing to wing, Costello in particular giving the AM Soccer defence a torrid time. Paterson went close again on 56 minutes, his shot this time hitting the post and rebounding to his team mate Carter, who saw his netbound effort cleared. St Johns smelled blood.
AM Soccer were still grafting and Wilson in particular was putting in a good shift, trying to create from midfield and trying to stem the flow against him, but there looked to be only one side likely to take the lead, and so it proved on 67 minutes when Paterson scored directly from a viciously inswinging corner! What happened in the AM Soccer 6 yard box is a bit of a mystery, there were so many players of both sides packing it out, but the ball sailed through them all and nestled in the corner of the net, much to the dismay of keeper Wishart.
AM Soccer heads went down, St Johns tails went up, and 4 minutes later they extended their lead, putting the game beyond AM Soccer after the hard working and impressive Cunningham lofted a high lob over the keeper’s head and St Johns into the next round. In goals the unfortunate Wishart could not be blamed – he had had a good game with some fine saves and stops, but by this time the sun was high and directly in his eyes, and the shot he thought was over the bar dropped behind him, into the net, and it was game over.
So, a game of two halves. St Johns in the 2nd half did all the things they didn’t do in the 1st, and got their just rewards. AM Soccer failed to match St Johns appetite after the break and couldn’t capitalise on the advantage they had, but make no mistake – these are two good teams and I expect to hear more about them both in coming weeks.
Full Time: St Johns 3-1 AM Soccer