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Men's 2s Lose on Pens, but Ref Steals the Show

A spirited York 2s side crashed out in the first round: Dom Smith explains how new laws influenced proceedings on the day.

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Image Credit: Luke Snell

Sunderland 1st team prevailed on penalties against York’s 2nd side
to reach the Men’s Northern Conference Plate on Wednesday 23rd October.
In what was a tense and tactical encounter, the match ended 1-1 –
Sunderland successful at the penalty shootout stage, by a scoreline of four
goals to two.

Visitors, Sunderland started the match the better side, scraping the game’s first big
chance over the bar from little more than six yard out. Moments later, referee
Peter Hartley adjudged Sunderland’s Number 7 to have slid in dangerously and
duly presented him with the game’s first booking.

Proceedings then entered a dull period, before livening up again just past the half-hour
mark. Twice within three minutes, Sunderland striker Joe Tunc was denied well
by York’s debutant goalkeeper, Jack Leonard – first saving with his leg, then
with a firm hand down to his right.

Another booking and thus an increased matchday fine was suffered by Sunderland
in the 41st minute. Then, in the clearest opening yet, a defensive mix-up
from a University of Sunderland centre-back allowed striker Kenny Pearce to
steal in and shoot on goal. As it happened, it wasn’t a very good shot and not
even a teammate diving in at the back-post could prevent the ball from tricking
wide harmlessly. Sunderland had got away with one; how had York not scored?

The second half began, the second half of a game delicately poised at 0-0.
Suddenly, the fixture burst into life as York’s Tom Guffick benefited from a
big deflection, watching his effort nestle into the corner past the hapless
Sunderland goalkeeper, Karl Beggs. The home side had stolen the lead in an
otherwise even contest.

However, they couldn’t hold onto it. Tunc was felled in the box three minutes on
from York’s goal. A penalty was given instantly. York defender Joe Cunning, vocal
throughout to both his teammates and the referee, pleaded his colleague’s
innocence. When he continued to do so, even after referee Peter Hartley had
warned him not to, he was given his marching orders. York were down to ten men.
Or were they…? Hartley had put him in the sinbin for ten minutes.

Everyone was perplexed. Questioned on the incident after the match, the referee
explained that “the player showed dissent and kept going on about the
decision”. “It’s dissent, and dissent is a ten-minute sinbin (as of) this
season. It’s step seven (of the football pyramid) downwards, so you’re not
going to see it in the professional game.”

Joe Tunc stepped up to hammer his penalty past Leonard, despite the goalkeeper
getting a sizeable touch on the ball as it went in. It marked a shift in the
match – Sunderland now had the psychological advantage, as well as the
man-advantage for ten minutes.

But this tie started to die out. The 68th minute brought a double
chance for the away side, who couldn’t find the net despite two presentable
chances close in. And that was almost it for drama in normal time, apart from a
late third yellow card for Sunderland, this one for tugging a York midfielder
back to thwart a counterattack. That was it; York and Sunderland were heading
for extra-time.

The home side were no longer the threat they had been by this point, but
Sunderland kept pressing for what they felt would be a deserved winner if it ever
arrived. It didn’t. The lottery of a penalty shootout beckoned for these two
well-matched teams.

York 2s captain, Casper Montgomery, was the first to step up. He struck the ball
well but telegraphed his intended destination, allowing Karl Beggs to read it
and save well, down to his left. Joe Tunc stepped up, belting a fine penalty
into the top left corner, improving on the spot-kick he’d scored in normal
time.

Five penalties in a row were then scored, taking the scoreline to 3-2 in favour of
the visitors. Kenny Pearce stepped forward to strike a pressure penalty. He
struck it tamely though, allowing Beggs to block once more. All Sunderland
needed to do was score. They did just that, confirming a First Round exit for
York 2s in this year’s Men’s Northern Conference Plate.

How long will York have to wait to get their revenge? Well, potentially seven days.
These two play each other in exactly a week’s time again at the 22 Acres, but
that will be a league encounter. In the cup, however, Sunderland squirmed
through to the Second Round of the Plate, beating York 4-2 on penalties after a
1-1 draw.

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