The Saints were on the move early on Sunday morning as they took the ‘red eye’ flight to Gatwick for their 3rd round Kent FA Cup tie v Orpington Mustangs FC. The Kent side are unbeaten in their league this season and a tough game was anticipated. 7 members of the squad had been involved in Island and Senior football the day before but all came through unscathed.
Both teams started a little tentatively with the Saints trying to play their usual passing style. It was a heavy surface with a pronounced slope both across and the length of the pitch. The home side was clearly under instructions to ‘close them down quickly and go in hard’, with robust tackles coming fast and often.
Staying with their fast quick passing St Peter threatened on a number of occasions before breaking the deadlock in the 15th minute when lone striker Ryan Marcinko held the ball up brilliantly to lay it off perfectly for Luke Lister to crack the ball into the top left-hand side of the keeper’s goal. Just a couple of minutes later the Saints doubled their lead when their tactics of playing a high line to press the home defence paid off. The ball was won back from a defender’s error, a quick pass found Lister in space and a fierce strike from 20 yards found the keepers bottom corner. 2-0 St Peters with just 17 minutes gone. If St Peter thought this was going to be easy it became clear this wasn’t how Orpington saw it. They began to make an impact relying on the counter-attack using the pace of their two big strikers. The reds back 4 of Kacper Smilek, Declan Pyne, Rhys Thomas and Andre Dias had to be at their best to keep the opposition at bay. Around the 32nd minute, they lost two key players with Lister being carried off after being stamped on in an off the ball incident unseen by the referee and Smilek suffering a foot injury in a high impact tackle.
Just seconds before half-time the Mustangs were back in the game, somewhat fortuitively, when their lively left wide man clattered into Pierce Roche feet first, leaving him on the floor with a 6-inch stud mark down his chest and then pushed the loose ball into the net. With the linesman flagging for the foul the referee over-rode him to award the goal. Half time 2-1 St Peter but with everything to play for.
Whatever the half time team talk, the second half started in a similar fashion to the first with St Peter having most of the possession. Jamie Ritzema, on for Luke Lister was working hard alongside his brother Toby and Tommy Boarer controlling the midfield. In the 47th minute Andre Dias who was having an outstanding game at left wing-back, won the ball, quickly made ground and switched the play with a wonderful diagonal pass to find Jan Bentley in space down the right-wing. Jan drove into the area passing three defenders and slotted the ball past the home keeper. 3-1 St Peter. This set back seemed to galvanise Orpington who became even more determined to get back in the game. They were using the long ball to capitalise on the pace of their rangy strikers and urged on by their coaches, the tackles were flying in to win the ball. In the 70th minute, the Mustangs got their reward when a firm volley caught Roche out of position to make it 3-2. It appeared that this was the encouragement the home team was seeking and with the healthy home support roaring them on, the chips were down. St Peter coaches Benest and Lister went into deep discussion, and played their trump card, bringing young Luke Lister back into the fray in an effort to settle the Saints down. It proved to be a masterstroke, just minutes after coming back onto the pitch, St Peter won a free kick just inside the halfway line. Andre Dias played the ball into space over the Orpington back four for Luke Lister to outpace the defenders and just beat the home keeper to the ball to knock the ball home for his hat-trick. 4-2 St Peter, the celebrations from the players the subs and the coaching team suggested that they felt this was the goal to take them through to the quarter-final. Five minutes to play of normal time suggested they had the game under control but Orpington Mustangs were not going to give up without a fight. With James Carr pushed back into defence and young Josh Stuart on, they knew they just had to keep their composure to see out the game. In the fourth minute of added-on time, Orpington was thrown a lifeline when their striker took the ball down the right flank and hit a screamer, that flew past Pierce Roche. 4-3 St Peter; surely the whistle would go immediately, that wasn’t how the referee saw it, he played a further 4 nerve-wracking minutes.
98 minutes was an eternity for the players playing their second game in 24 hours
Fortunately, there were no further scares and St Peter FC go into the draw with the other 7 teams to fight for a place in the semi-final for the second year running. A hard-fought but very well deserved 4-3 victory. With 56 teams already eliminated from the 64 that started this competition, the Jersey team already has something to be proud about
Coach Karl Benest said:
“ I was delighted with overall performance and commitment of all 15 players. Their attitude and willingness to work for each other was outstanding. The team spirit in this squad is as strong as any I have experienced over the past few years, we thoroughly deserved to win the match. A special mention for Luke Lister he was clearly our ‘man of the match’, he was outstanding and converted all 3 goals with remarkable composure”
Fellow coach Anthony Lister said:
“ The boys’ work ethic and determination was key in this grinding cup tie. It was a great learning curve to play in such poor conditions with a heavy, pronounced sloping pitch and unpredictable high winds. The opposition was the most physical that we have encountered but our team spirit and outstanding finishing from Luke and Jan ensured the better team won. Our team is much stronger as a group for coming through difficult situations like this. Karl and I have noted the morale boost this gives not only this squad but the whole Club and we are all grateful to the Club for giving us this opportunity to test ourselves against the very best teams. It bodes well for this season and the seasons ahead as the boys progress together”.
Team: Pierce Roche: Rhys Thomas, Kacper Smilek, Declan Pyne, Andre Dias: Luke Lister, Tom Boarer, Toby Ritzema, James Carr: Jan Bentley, Ryan Marcinko. Subs: ( all featured) Doug McDermott, Jamie Ritzema, Josh Stuart, Tom Proffitt.
Scorers Bentley and Lister 3. MOM Luke Lister
For further information
Brian Foulser: Tel 851075
Karl Benest: Tel 07700 369911
Anthony Lister: Tel 07797 750419