The under 11's faced Cotgrave Blue for the second week in a row. This time the roles were completely reversed from last week's cup quarter final. This week, Cotgrave were to be the hosts, but last weeks match wrecked the pitch, along with some rain early this week meant that it wasn't playable. However, Erewash Borough Council have done some fantastic work over the last week and rotated the troublesome pitch at Gallows by 90 degrees. The change was thought to take a few weeks, but was ready in days. The result of this being a pitch being available which had never been played on at all. The game got switched to Gallows and was able to go ahead.
The similarities, however, did not end there. After Kirk Hallam had five players missing for the previous match, and subsequently went out of the cup, Cotgrave Blue were themselves down by three players for this match, leaving them with a bare 9 men. the Kirk Hallam boys though, just wanted to make right what they felt was a harsh result from the last week, having led the game until the final five minutes where they conceded two goals and lost.
With a change of players, Cotgrave got caught on the hop a little as Kirk Hallam went at them from the word go. While still playing the passing football, it was done in a more direct manner and the home side could really have been 1-0 up within the first five minutes but for a cracking save from the Cotgrave goalkeeper. After more pressure, Ben Morley was fouled and his resultant free kick was miss hit and sailed wide of the target. The same situation arose again within minutes and this time, the frustrated player his the post as he took a clever low free kick. Cotgrave created some chances of their own, but nothing really to threaten the Kirk Hallam goal. With the home side firmly in control and carving out chance after chance, the deadlock was finally broken when a Cotgrave defender kicked the ball straight at Wil Turner, which then rebounded into the goal and gave Kirk Hallam a very deserved 1-0 lead to take into half time.
After a tactical move around, and the emphasis going back to the shorter, quicker, passing game, Kirk Hallam pressed and created more, but better chances. Wil Turner continued with his creative impact on the game in setting up Harris Khan for a chance, which he smashed into the goal for 2-0. Within ten minutes, Ben Morley won a free kick midway into the Cotgrave half, out on the right wing. The quality of his ball into the box and the movement and finish from Richard Frost were both equally sublime and emphasised the difference between the two teams on the day. The Kirk Hallam defence were then caught out be a through ball, which the Cotgrave striker pounced on to make the score 3-1 after running clear. Ben Morley then went through quickly at the other end, and , after previously being thwarted by the magnificent Cotgrave goalkeeper, finally got his goal for the game to make it 4-1 shortly before the full time whistle.
A special mention has to go to the Cotgrave goalkeeper, who managed to keep the score down to 4-1. He was brilliant.
Kirk Hallam are currently joint top of division 2 following their promotion, a place shared with Warriors and Long Eaton White, who they match up against over the next two matches. The next few weeks could prove to be a defining period in the season, and as long as the lads play the way they are doing and enjoy their football, both should be great matches irrespective of the results.
Onwards and upwards