Posted: 17.05.21 at 10:44 by Duncan Cowley
Helsby FC crash out of the cup in bizarre and controversial style.
Saturday (15 May) saw another wet day and a huge semi-final of the Shield Cup away at League leaders, the undefeated Runcorn Sports.
Helsby started well and could have easily had a penalty within a few minutes with a push on Nathan in the box.
Helsby continued the great passing and tackling but it seemed that every bit of contact was met with a yellow card to a Helsby player.
On 15 minutes, Helsby got a corner and Nathan swivelled and scored - get in!
Helsby were playing superbly, on to every second ball, but the yellow cards were racking up and I feared a red card was only a matter of time away.
Then on the stroke of half time came what was in my opinion a tiny tap on the back of a Runcorn player, causing Jay to be red carded.
The second half started with Helsby dominant again and Lee T hitting the bar. Even with 10 men Helsby looked brilliant.
Then a lunging tackle by a Runcorn player saw the referee brandishing another red card, which seemed a very harsh decision again.
The Runcorn player walked off to talk with the linesman on the far side. Then he was walking back on and the red card changed to yellow.
On the hour mark Runcorn finally had their first shot on goal and scored.
However, credit to the Helsby lads - their heads didn't go down and they continued to put pressure on Runcorn.
The frustrations were now at boiling point with every decision seemingly going against Helsby.
Then Tom T wriggled into the box, felt some contact and went to the ground. It seemed a certain penalty, but Tom was yellow carded for an apparent dive.
The frustrations were spilling over both on and off the field with the Helsby players now frightened to tackle with the game descending into a passive, non-contact stalemate.
The game ended 1-1 at full time and extra time ensued.
Helsby looked really sharp into extra time and another superb ball hit the defender's outstretched arm again - the second time this has happened. The referee didn't see anything and waved the protests on.
Runcorn crossed the ball and headed it in at the far post - this was the catalyst for Helsby complaints and then after mass confusion the team ended up with just six outfield players left.
Runcorn broke away against the Helsby "six" and made it 3-1. A bizarre game.
I haven't seen anything like it in 45 years of watching the beautiful game, but well done to Runcorn Sports for reaching the final.
Helsby may be out of the cup but there were so many positives from the game today - I thought Tom at the back (centre half) was brilliant with Jack.
Tom is getting better and better each game - so impressive.
Now, onto the league campaign. We still have a chance of promotion with Runcorn and Rainford playing each other on Tuesday night - let's pray for a draw!