The torrential rain of Friday night failed to call a halt to this Cup match which saw plucky performances from both sides in spite of the abysmal conditions. All hail (or rain) to the brave supporters of both team who stoically endured a 90 minutes plus drenching with fortitude and humour.
In the end, a comprehensive win for the Daniels after making hard work of it in the first half ending 2-0 in their favour but they should have been out of sight by then. In fact, a 20th minute goal from speed merchant Rory Guille should have signaled an avalanche but, a nervy Daniels’ flat back line saw Thurlby given chances to equalise courtesy of tentative defending with their own equally speedy and strong front man breaking through the centre too often and too easily with stand in keeper James Pollard coming off his line to thwart the danger and ease the early nerves. Those nerves were assuaged somewhat when new boy; James Millar hit number two before the break with Callum Noble instrumental in attacking movement with great vision and first time passing from midfield mainly to Ethan Ellison on the left who created problems for Thurlby.
Both sides had ineffective corners and free kicks with Thurlby lucky to still be in the match as they were slowly ground down and overpowered by a Daniels side unable to convert several reasonable chances. Captain Liam Taylor, back after a foot injury, was again outstanding with his presence, ability and cool confidence on the ball trying to instill confidence within his team. Unfortunately for the visitors, they also failed to capitalise on their few opportunities which may, possibly, have changed the game.
Clearly, Daniels were the stronger side but not quite firing on all cylinders yet reasonably happy with a 2-0 score line at the end of the half. Failing to convert their superiority into goals could have cost them with frustratingly, too much individual play. instead of more solid teamwork and accurate passing which could have put this game out of Thurlby’s’ reach at that stage but now making the second half an unknown quantity giving some hope to their opponents.
Any Thurlby hopes were quashed as the Daniels dominated the second period laying siege to their opponents’ half with Thurlby giving everything to stay in the game but perhaps leaving their best efforts behind them in the first half. Again Daniels were their own worst enemy with too much overplay and too many touches often cutting out the midfield which, as proven against the top teams, can be suicidal.
So, Thurlby hung on but Daniels pressure wore them down and the last 10 minutes saw their overall strength prove decisive, knocking the wind out of Thurlby’s’ waterlogged sails when the pass of the game, a trenchant curved diagonal pass from midfielder Sam Jordan bisected and evaded defenders’ outstretched legs for target Millar on the right who ran into the box confidently hitting home his second for 3-0 and game almost over. Ridley Braid ran his heart out finding good scoring positions but a combination of his own exuberance and the wet surface combined when he missed several clear goal opportunities.
A 4th from Harvey Oxford sealed the win as Thurlby’s’ visible demeanor conceded the match after a valiant effort from them. The score line at last reflected Stamford’s’ superiority but they could have made it a lot easier for themselves and must think about teamwork and more accurate and clinical passing before they meet old foe Blackstone’s in the final.
A big well done to James Millar for hitting a brace on a fantastic debut.