Reporter: Luke Gardner
Having progressed into the 3rd round of ESFA national cup it meant that Moulton were amongst the top 128 schools in the country, an achievement not to be taken lightly. Moulton’s next stumbling block came in the form of Biddenham International School and Sports College from Bedford after their impressive 4-3 defeat of NSB in the prior round. Moulton understood that this victory was no mean feat having themselves struggled to beat NSB the previous year in the SFL.
With midfield general Richardson ruled out through injury it was the turn of Johnson to fulfil the gap left in his absence, the only notable change in Jonesy’s consistent team selection. The game began with a sluggish and disjointed feel to the match which was not aided by the poor condition of the playing surface and the rustiness of a few of the Moulton players. Biddenham possessed a team that involved a strong spine, with tough tacklers in central midfield and imposing centre backs. Nonetheless Biddenham struggled to create any clear cut chances for themselves in the opening stages but this didn’t stop Moulton creating chances for them, as a wild back pass from Riley left more people than keeper Scruton holding their heart in their mouth.
After narrowly avoiding calamity at the back the hosts began to step up a gear through smart running from wide men O’Hare and Reid coinciding with intricate approach play from fellow attackers Evans-Smith and Gibbins. Moulton soon found that important opening goal on the 25 minute mark when O’Hare was played through leaving the opposing defenders no chance to catch up with the blistering speed of the winger. His fierce shot was saved well by the keeper only to be parried into the path of Reid, who duly tapped in at the back post. Soon after, frontman Gibbins displayed another quality attribute in his arsenal with a ‘bale esc’ burst from the halfway line, sweeping past a number of the visitors defenders before seeing his resulting shot saved by an onrushing keeper. For all of the first half efforts of the striker he was deservedly rewarded with a goal after winning and dispatching a penalty to double the home side’s lead before the break.
With darkness approaching, Jonesy was keen to keep his halftime talk brief and direct any growing frustrations from the players who knew they should be performing stronger against this calibre of opponents.
Moulton found chances few and far between during the early encounters of the second half as they continued to struggle to adapt to the tough demands of the pitch. The host’s frustrations also carried over into the latter half as the visitors began the second period the stronger of the two sides as well as displaying physical dominance over the hosts. The away team’s substitutions proved to have an influence on their performance, as the introduction of a flying winger had Moulton’s backline on the ropes on a number of occasions. This continued pressure from Biddenham led to a few sloppy mistakes from the Moulton team but it turned out to be one mistake too far, as the away side broke down the left side and a cool finish from the Biddenham attacker created what would be a nervy final 20 minutes for the hosts, 2-1!
The visitors were buoyed, displaying a willingness to press in numbers straight from the resulting kick off and for the next 5 minutes forcing Moulton to demonstrate a resolute and resilient side of their game not been forced upon them during this cup run thus far. Moulton outlined their quality, led by midfield pair Sullivan and Coxhill with the former offering a solid defensive layer in front of the pressurised back 4 and the latter showcasing his passing range by being deployed as a deep lying playmaker.
Both sides knew that whoever got the next goal in the match would probably go on to win the tie, thus creating a faster and fiercer tempo to the match. However it was the hosts that got this deciding goal after a great show of strength from Gibbins smartly allowed the ball to run through to the marauding Coxhill with the midfielder finishing at the second time of asking after seeing his initial shot saved by the keeper. This goal brought both relief and jubilation highlighted by both coach Jonesy’s and goal scorer Coxhill’s celebrations. This goal allowed the home side to both relax and control proceedings as they were clearly the stronger side for the final 10 minutes and even added a 4th goal through baby faced O’Connor after he shimmied his way into the box before being brought down. Despite the unselfish act of wanting to give the penalty to veteran Gibbins, the frontman allowed O’Connor to take it and he calmly finished into the bottom corner to make it 4-1. Biddenham scored a consolation on the stroke of full time to sweeten the scoreline for the visitors.
The game finished 4-2 and Moulton progressed into the last 64 of the cup, continually growing in belief as they face tougher competition. This was a match that Moulton may not have played particularly well but they still ground out a result, a hallmark of any successful team.
Team: Scrutton, White, Riley, McCoach, Skuce; Johnson, Coxhill; Reid, Evans-Smith, O’hare; Gibbins
Subs: Lamin, Webb, Hillier, Sullivan, O’Connor
Man of the match: Coxhill