A strange game, did he win the lottery and those dreaded pens.

Maghull 3 - 3 Garswood United aet   2-3 on penalties

Saturday 10th October 2015  kick off 2pm

You would think, looking at the scoreline, that we had a classic on our hands. Not quite, but what we did have was a full blooded cup tie, with lots of passion and intent that faded from time to time, but kept springing into life and keeping everyones interest (in what was a very good crowd on non league day) pretty much from the start actually.

Within ten minutes Garswood, quite fortuitously, took the lead. Maghull should have made more of the possession they had, instead they lost the ball it broke down the left and a cross caught the keeper out and drifted in at the far post. Not the start we really wanted. Especially when Maghull had missed a half chance to take the lead themselves. But within minutes we had parity. A good pass from sub Liam Vogel found Jay Hooper, who turned inside his marker and clipped a right foot effort into the far top corner from the edge of the box.

The game settled down and though the visitors seemed to have a shoot on sight policy and Maghull just couldn't get a final ball through, neither keeper was really tested until injury time at the end of the half. The midfield duel finally came back to life when an innocuous effort at Maghulls goal was parried out and the rebound was tucked away into the corner. Not the nicest half time present. But the time added on for Ryan Stampers injury now came to Maghulls assistance, when Maghull were quickly awarded a free kick close to the edge of Garswoods area. Brad Smart smashed one for the far corner, Tom Foley made a run across the keepers eyeline, got the defelction and it was all square once again.

The second half didn't quite live up to the first halfs scoring exploits. Again, some good play from both sides at times, but mostly the teams cancelled each other out. Lots of huff and puff, but no houses were blown down. The best chance came for the visitors, when they played a good move down the right but the final effort should have troubled the keeper and not the side netting. They did make huge claims for a penalty too, but more in hope than expectation I would think ! So extra time was settled for.

More of the same was served up, intriguing, but not exactly edge of the seat stuff. Then a flick on by Vogel found Smart, his pass split Garswoods defence and Jay Steele ran onto it to smash a drive into the net past the stranded keeper. Finally Maghull had the lead and would learn the lessons of earlier in the game to keep things tight at the back. Err no !

Garswood were awarded a free kick for a nothing challenge by the corner flag. But the player went down and the ref was lulled by two Maghull players in close attendance. Garswoods number nine went to take it, but was ordered to leave it, get in the box and get across the keeper and get your head on it. If the player heard the instructions from 35/40 yards away, I am sure others heard it. The free kick was hit into the near post area, the number nine made his run across the front of the keeper and got his head on it. He even went one better than requested and directed his header into the far bottom corner of the net and within two minutes we were level, again. I want to know if the Garswood manager had a dabble on the lottery that night.

This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Maghull, but Garswood didn't have anything left to kill the game off. Players tumbled to the ground with cramp, both sides had suffered injuries and they had given all they could. Only one thing stood between them and penalties and that was a further tiresome 15 minutes. Both sides deserved a huge pat on the back for managing to get through it with no further knocks, finishing with eleven men each and conducting themselves in a manner that made this game a lot better than maybe my earlier waffling suggests.

So, penalties it was.

We know the scoreline now, so let's dwell mainly on the positives. Jay Hooper and Lee Carroll both slotted their penalties away. Carrol made two fine saves and was unlucky to see another creep just inside the post after he got his hand to it. But the Garswood keeper made sure he had a say in the shootout too and saved the tenth penalty to give his side a 3-2 victory.

Twas not to be lads, but no shame in this loss at all. Good luck to Garswood United in the rest of the Liverpool County Challenge Cup. And I didn't really notice the referee, which was nice.

Next game : Hale away league Saturday 17th October 2015 kick off 3pm

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