After Elim crashed out of the quarter finals 4-1 to CLM, the Pentecostal Church faced ARYPT in there last home game of the season. Elim had won this away fixture 3-1 and beat AYRPT 2-0 in the cup and were looking for the trilogy of wins. ARYPT have had a tough season, with their only points in cup and league coming from HERC Saints.
Hughes and Baldwin named Ireland in goalfor the game, with a back three of Matewe, Reid and Baldwin. Kyreke was welcomed back into the squad taking on the wing back role, with Rhodes on the opposite side. Hughes, Clark and Jones sat in the middle with Smith pushed up top with Bennett. Kousoulas, Kirugi and Watkins made up the bench.
ARYPT got the game underway with much milder conditions than the quarter final week. It was the away team that started the brighter of the two sides and stretched Elim’s back three on a number of occasions. Elim tried to keep an organised line at the back, but sadly it would be another dirty sheet for the home side within the first ten minutes. The ball was played over Baldwin; the centre back looked for a flag that never came. Baldwin and Reid scampered back to block the shot but the striker turned and shot a rocket into the top corner. Ireland got finger tips to the ball, but not enough to tip over the bar. AYRPT scored the first goal against Elim last outing, but sadly for them conceded the next three. The away side knew next goal was crucial and almost had it 15 minutes in. A ball knocked on through the middle had the Elim backline at 6’s and 7’s but Ireland in a 4 on 1 situation showed heroics to keep the score line at 1-0 amd knock the ball out for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Reid cleared a number of crosses and Elim finally showed some fight from the 20th minute. Smith and Bennett, showed great chemistry unlocking the back line to equalise with Elim’s first real attack. Assist king Smith, played through Bennett for the striker to maintain a cool, calm shot in a trade mark Bennett goal for the strikers 11th of the season.The Striker had scored 4 of his 11 goals agaisnt ARYPT this season.
The score line didn’t stay level for long with Rhodes crossing in for Smith to sneak in between the defenders and hit a shot on target. Smith has an incredible record v ARYPT too scoringhis 5th goal against this opposition in four games. The striker doubled his tally for the season with both goals against.. yes you guessed it ARYPT.
With the dying moments of first half, Kyreke picked himself up from a knock to the face to be released on the right hand side. The young winger used his pace to burst into the box and hit a shot to sting the keepers palms and keep the score 2-1 until the break. Baldwin made a change on the half , taking himself off for Watkins. The formation remained the same, but Jones joined the back three and Watkins slotted into the midfield. The game was full of chances second half and both teams wanted that next crucial goal.
Watkins started to pull strings in the middle and released Bennett to be one on one with the defender for the ref to have adjudged a foul on the defender. The midfield kept looking to release Rhodes and the winger, got round his man for the Elim man to have been barged into for the ref again to give the free kick to the away side when on another day a penalty could have been awarded. Watkins was the next man to try and get on the score sheet but when he tried to chip the keeper failed to keep composure and ball drifted over. The sub mentioned it had been 2 years for his last goal and he would have to wait at least another three weeks for it now.
Elim pressure piled on and Smith would find Reid from a corner for the defender to connect a little to well with the ball, with the ball finding its way safely into the keeper’s hands. Bennett made way on 65th minute in a like for like swap with Kousoulas. Kousoulas having an odd statistic of scoring more goals against league 1 teams than 2 this season. The striker came off the bench full of energy. Kousoulas on a number of occasions broke through but couldn’t get that goal. The striker hit a fierce shot, which the keeper blocked, Smith went for the tap in but the keeper blocked again. The keeper was working hard for his team to pick up a point and almost got his rewards when a wicked ARYPT cross managed to connect with the bar a nd sail over. Baldwin and Hughes worrying the third goal wasn’t going to come took Hughes off for Kirugi and put the sub at right back. The home side changing things to a 4-5-1 for the last 12 minutes. The last attack was a bit of magic from Rhodes in the box to lose his man with neat foot work, stunning all around him and himself as the teenager failed to find the target.
The full time whistle blew and a 2-1 win for the home side. After the Elim’s players player vote congratulations to Aidan Rhodes on back to back awards. Elim’s next game is away to Holy Trinity on 13th April. One last thought.. Please all keep Beatrice in your prayers, who does a lot for Christian football and we all hope everything goes well at the hospital tomorrow.