GDSML Cup first round, Stepford
AC Milanda 1 Ashfield 4.
Scorer - Grehan
Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, Fawns, Evans, Murray, McPake (Preston), Grehan, Macdonald, Reid, Harley, Allan.
MILANDA bowed out of the main cup competition at the first time of asking but gave a decent account of themselves in difficult circumstances. Only nine of the 12 registered players available were 100 per cent fit and against a team of Ashfield’s quality that is never likely to be enough. But the players could not be faulted for effort and the final scoreline probably flatters Ashfield a little.
Des McPake started the match, despite still being slightly concussed after suffering a non-football related head knock, but it soon became clear he could not cope and so Scott Preston, still troubled by an ankle injury, had to take over, leaving the subs’ bench empty.
Ashfield were better in possession than the home side and only a superb save from Ross Mitchell prevented them taking a 15th-minute lead following a slick move. However, that only delayed the inevitable by four minutes. Milanda conceded possession too easily in the middle of the pitch and a fast counter-attack by Ashfield down the right resulted in a clinical goal.
Milanda were making little headway in terms of attacking play and found themselves 2-0 down just before the half-hour.
However, in the 15 minutes leading up to the break they suddenly began to compete better and it was Ashfield’s turn to defend. Paul Murray hit the keeper’s right-hand post with a terrific low drive and then Greig Harley sent Kevin Grehan clear of the Ashfield back line but he failed to hit the target. However, Grehan did reduce the deficit in the final minute of the half when a Mark Reid free-kick found him unmarked in the box and he headed home.
Preston’s ankle was causing him some discomfort but he agreed to move from midfield to the front line for the second half in an effort to keep Milanda at full strength and in with a chance.
Marc Allan, who was also less than fully fit, moved back to midfield and the reshuffled team gave as good as it got for the first 25 minutes of the second period.
Unfortunately, the chances that came along weren’t put away and a third goal for Ashfield in the 70th minute followed by a penalty, conceded by Paul Murray, settled the issue.
Murray, who had scored a sensational goal against Renfrew Town the previous week, was clearly keen to add to it and was unlucky again with a well-struck free kick that the Ashfield keeper kept out at full stretch.
So Milanda will have to be content with a place in the consolation tournament and hopefully by the time that comes around they will have a few more players available. Fresh faces are still needed and if anyone knows of a player who can add a bit more quality to the squad, let the manager know.
MOM: Scorer Kevin Grehan worked hard in midfield, made sure everyone kept battling and tried to get forward as much as possible.