A somewhat contentious game with errors on both sides finished all square as Elite took on Costa del Port at Goals, Chester.
The game got off to a scrappy start with misses from Dan Abbott and Paul Brunton before a misunderstanding between Abbott and Sean Payne put an end to Elite’s attack.
Some good saves from keeper Chris Podolchuk kept Elite in the game until they began to pull together as a team and turn on the style. Good skills from Abbott frustrated CDP and Elite began to gain some ground, playing in a tighter formation and starting to attack.
And it was Elite who broke the deadlock after seven minutes as Alex Gilfoyle powered through the CDP defence to score his second in as many games.
The goal galvanised Elite and Payne doubled the score a couple of minutes later after Gilfoyle nutmegged a CDP defender and laid the ball off for Payne to finish .
Costa weren’t taking it lying down though and Podolchuk was being kept busy in the Elite goal. Fortunately he was up to the task and made a couple of crucial saves before Abbott increased Elite’s lead with a trademark power shot on 15 minutes.
Elite were starting to enjoy themselves and when Payne’s back heel to Gilfoyle came off they must have thought they were certain to grab a fourth goal and give CDP a real mountain to climb. Unfortunately the CDP keeper made the save and a quick counter-attack resulted the opponents pulling a goal back.
Half-time was now rapidly approaching but there was still time for Dave Madeley’s toepoke to find its target for Elite’s fourth, and a dramatic save at full stretch from Podolchuk to deny CDP a second.
Half-Time: Elite 4 Costa del Port 1
Costa came out of the blocks in the second half, catching Elite off-guard and scoring in the opening minute. A poor goal to concede from Elite’s point of view and one which showed a lack of concentration.
Payne had looked threatening in the first half bit not quite managed to find the net. However his persistence was finally rewarded when he stroked the ball home across the face of goal on 23 minutes.
Not to be outdone, Gilfoyle was looking for his second and after a bit of show-boating, turned and slotted the ball home, taking Elite’s tally to six in the 24th minute.
Elite looked to be well on their way to putting the game out of sight and taking all three points, but an impressive comeback from CDP, combined with some tired Elite legs, lead to Costa scoring three goals in two minutes.
Payne completed his hat-trick with a sensational goal which arced into the top corner, but Elite were looking weak at the back, and despite Podolchuk’s best efforts conceded another poor goal on 34 minutes.
Costa then drew level on 36 minutes, before Payne rounded off a man of the match performance with his fourth, and Elite’s eighth of the evening.
It looked like Elite might hang on for the win but CDP had other ideas and an eighth goal for the visitors brought the teams level.
The match finished 1.20 minutes short of full-time, but that was probably a blessing in the end as the momentum was with Costa del Port and it’s possible that Elite would have lost had the game continued. A draw was probably a fair result as despite some moments of individual brilliance, Elite failed to close the game out and you have to give credit to Costa for what was a well-engineered comeback in the second half.
Man of the Match: Sean Payne – Although Gilfoyle’s two goals and flashy overall play made him a strong contender, Payne’s timely interventions and four goals just edged it.
Elite 8 Costa del Port 8
The draw could be costly as top of the table Phang won, opening the gap to five points between the top two.
Elite will need to beat Maelor High Club next Tuesday if they are to stay in the running for promotion.