ESFA National Cup Semi Final Victory 2017
On what was the warmest day of 2017 so far, NSB’s Year 7 A Team squad overcame a very talented Hurstmere School with a hard fought 2-1 victory in the ESFA National Cup Semi- Final, thus securing their place in the ESFA National Cup Final, due to be played in May.
Having overcome Langley School in the Quarter Finals with a heart-stopping 3 goal comeback from 2-0 down with five minutes to play, the team was in good spirits going into the game. As expected, given the prize awaiting the victor, the game started as a very tense and nervy affair, with neither side showing much quality for the first 10 minutes. Once the game settled down, Hurstmere began to seize the initiative, playing some outstanding football which NSB defended stoutly. Arien Habibi in the NSB goal pulled off a magnificent 1v1 save to keep the tie level, whilst the dynamic midfield duo of Kenny Ndefo and Connor Roberts maintained high energy levels in the centre of the park, limiting Hurstmere’s attacking threat wherever possible.
The opposition saw only brief glimpses of class from NSB’s exciting attackers, including the diminutive duo of Rico Duggan and Charlie Baxter, with their usual mesmerising footwork being stifled by resolute defending. With half time fast approaching, a tactical change allowed NSB to see out the half and regroup at 0-0.
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NSB started the second half much brighter and with their confidence buoyed; playing football that was much more reflective of their season so far. Chances came for both sides however, with the superb defensive lynchpin Alfie Newman thwarting any attack alongside the fantastic Harry Gilkes, Jahdai Smith and Henry Burdett. With Arien performing heroics in goal time after time, NSB slowly began to make their mark on the game. A free kick on the edge of the box gave Kenny Ndefo a clear sight at goal and he rifled the ball into the top corner with a fantastic strike. 1-0 NSB and Mr Winters replaced the hard working striker Joe Mathu with goal machine Dylan Stacey and hero of the Quarter final, Mikun Adeniji. Mikun was lively once again and within 5 minutes of being on the pitch, he pounced upon a loose ball in the box and slotted in a second goal, 2-0 NSB with 15 minutes remaining.
Backed by PE groups and numerous members of staff, NSB changed their shape to contain the attacking threat of Hurstmere, with Connor Burgess and Bradley Powell working extremely hard to see the game through. With 10 minutes to play, Hurstmere got a goal back, making the last 10 minutes a real battle. Arien Habibi cemented his Man of the Match award with at least three more world class saves, with all of the boys in front of him working extremely hard in the hot weather to deny Hurstmere another goal. Isaiah Hines utilised his pace in the final few minutes to provide a different attacking option and with a long ball chased down by him, the referee blew the final whistle to send NSB players, coaches and supporters into jubilation.
Mr R. Winters