Challenge Cup provides unique opportunity for FCV players
The Challenge cup has been introduced to provide more competitive fixtures for FCV. The two legged competition will now be played yearly against St Ives who have a first team in the 7th tier of English Football. The first leg of the annual Challenge Cup v St Ives was played at the Altech Arena on Wednesday 24th November.
Sam Denchfield was the standout in the first half keeping FCV in the game with some great saves. Matt Francis came close on multiple occasions but couldn’t find the breakthrough. FCV looked like they would go in 1-0 up at Half time when Oliver Bayliss picked out Zhani Burgess superbly with a ball over the top. Unfortunately, Burgess put the ball agonisingly wide keeping the score 0-0 at half time.
The second half got off to a slow start but soon picked up with FCV dominating possession. Mathew Nzewi seemed to score the opener after a perfectly weighted through ball from Archie Wallace but was ruled out for offside. Nzewi came close to opening his account for the season following a goalmouth scramble which was eventually gathered by the saints’ keeper. A long-distance effort from Avela Makuani was unconventionally pushed onto the post as the pressure built.
The breakthrough came just minutes later as Rohan Merhai slotted the ball past the keeper from 20 yards. Nzewi was back in the action 5 minutes later when his 30-yard effort rebounded off the post and into the path of Diego Jimenez who put the ball in the net. It was the third time FCV had beaten the keeper and the second time it was ruled offside.
FCV were soon made to pay for the missed chances when St Ives got a free kick on the edge of the box. Perrot was equal to the first but was unable to keep hold of it gifting a goal to St Ives just minutes before the final whistle.
Full Time 1-1
The second leg was a played on Tuesday 30th November at the Westwood Road Stadium. It was an evening game played at 7:45 providing a different experience to the usual afternoon kick off.
Unlike the first leg, the second was a cagey affair that offered up little chances for either side. Milai Perrot was called into action on a few occasions making some solid saves. A goalless half meant that there was nothing to separate the two sides.
FCV grew into the game and came close on a couple of occasions. At 1-1 Geoff Ojango made a vital goal-line clearance preventing a certain goal. A lack of communication at the back would decide the fate of the game and the tie when a long ball over the top found the St Ives striker who finished excellently into the top left corner. Alexis Castellenos had a shout for a penalty when he was brought down by the keeper in the box but the ref waved away any claims and any chances of a comeback.
The game ended 1-0 and the tie 2-1 in favour of St Ives. Congratulations to St Ives for winning the Challenge Cup in a very competitive Cup.