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Marc Grocott - Stoke City

One Step Closer…

12/12/07 |

Match: Stoke City vs Wigan Athletic

Day of the Youth Cup game versus Wigan Athletic and it was at the normal time so no rest or a lie in for us! Again we went down to the training ground for an hour just to finalise our set plays and then we finished with a penalty shoot-out to prepare us if the game was to go all the way. After the shoot out I was put on penalty duty for if the shootout was to come.

After the session we were sent home to rest for a few hours and told to report back for a pre-match meal. When the game came around everyone was more than up for it and were all ready to take the scalp off a Premiership Club. After the game kicked off and settled down it was clear that we were the better team and our desire to win outweighed that of our opponents. After going close a couple of times our dominance paid off, on the 57th minute one of our well rehearsed corners was clinically converted when our winger Salif Diao-Jimenez headed goal-wards. After this we continued to apply the pressure and went in search for our second goal and in doing so I found myself having a collision with the Wigan keeper when he bravely saved an effort at my feet. On the follow-through I caught him with my left knee and hit him in his head and as a result he was out cold. For the next 5 or so minutes he received treatment until he was eventually substituted and stretchered off the pitch to go and get checked out at the local hospital (thankfully the keeper’s injury was just concussion and nothing worse).

The resulting 8 minutes of stoppage time was to prove costly, when in the 97th minute a long-range effort was cruelly deflected into our net, wrong-footing our keeper and giving him no chance. This was a cruel blow but we dug in through extra time and kept our defence tight and if there was going to be a winning goal then it was only going to come from us as we were the only team creating and actually going in search of another goal… but it never came and penalties were upon us.

After losing the toss we were chosen to go second. After they converted their first, it was time my time to stand up and do my bit for the team and thankfully I nestled the ball in the bottom corner. With my bit done I returned to the half way line and just hoped that we were able to keep our nerve and through luck, composure and a great performance from our keeper we managed to win the tie and progress into the 4th round. To go out through penalties would have been devastating but to win and go through with them just somehow made the victory that little bit sweeter!