Burghfield hand Singh Sabha last-minute heartbreak in FA Sunday Cup

Burghfield hand Singh Sabha last-minute heartbreak in FA Sunday Cup

Singh Sabha Slough 3, Burghfield 4

With the game destined to go to penalties after Singh Sabha equalised in the dying minutes, Burghfield headed the winner to progress into the next round of the FA Sunday Cup, writes Zuf Asghar.

After a few years absent from the FA Sunday Cup due to COVID-19 and the competition not accepting entries last season, Sabha were one of the 64 lucky accepted entries this season. They entered the first round with a local derby as they hosted Burghfield - of the Reading District League - at Burnham FC's 1878 Stadium.

The two sides were unknown to one another as they had never before clashed, so both teams looked in an indifferent mood coming into this game. Sabha started off shaky, however, with issues in the starting line-up leading up to the game due to a lack of communication and last-minute changes to the formation.

With the ground slowly filling up it was Burghfield who looked the more comfortable side in the early exchanges as they caused the Sabha backline some issues with a high press. Sabha did have the first real chance of the game, however, as Usman Lalustani broke clear but dragged his left foot effort  wide.

Burghfield hit back with a chance of their own after a long ball into the channel looked like it may go out of play but stayed in as the Sabha 'keeper Hassan Hussain hesitated. Hussain then collided with the Burghfield player following a cross and the referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot, with the visitors making no mistake to take the lead.

Sabha tried to rally back and had some good chances as Harry Laflin forced a strong save from the Burghfield keeper. They were struggling to break the Burghfield defence and with the frustration Sabha committed more mistakes at the back. This time it was Anwar Alzinber who attempted to play out from the back, but the player got caught by the Burghfield striker who nabbed possession and fired in the game's second goal.

Sabha's players and management were in complete shock with what they were watching but thanks to Harry Laflin, Sabha hit back straight away with a fierce strike that went  through the Burghfield keeper's gloves. The visitors could have scored again just before half-time after more questionable defending but keeper Hussain made a fine save to ensure Burghfield's lead at the break wasn't out of reach for Sabha.

After a stern half time team talk, Sabha came out after the interval in full belief and introduced Kensley Maloney to the field. Sabha got into the groove creating more opportunities as they went close twice, first with Karim Chaibi forcing a good save from the Burghfield keeper, and then Laflin seeing his effort go wide.

With Sabha in control going forward, the defence was still under pressure as another mistake at the back led to an opportunity for Burghfield which they took in fine style, to lead 3-1. Sabha, again, hit back straight away and pulled a goal back with a stunning strike by Harry Laflin, 25 yards out, after a nice cross pass by Jovan Bains. 

Maloney started to run the midfield as chances became more frequent - Sabha hit the post through Laflin and then Lalustani was denied by a good save. The side made changes as Conrad Joseph and Hassan Mahmood both came on and Joseph immediately went close with a long-range effort which went just wide.

The Burghfield players were going down one-by-one with cramp as the Sabha pressure was on and with minutes remaining Sabha were awarded a free-kick deep into the Burghfield half on the right wing. Taken by Mahmood, the player whipped in a curling delivery which beat the keeper and nestled into the top corner sending the Sabha team into celebrations as they seemed to have saved the game and taken it into penalties.

With only a minute left and all substitutes used, it was just about Sabha holding their nerve and hoping an opportunity would rise, but Burghfield thinking the same and feeling down after conceding the equaliser kept going and were awarded a free-kick just inside the Sabha half.

This was going to be the last opportunity for either team and Burghfield sent their players forward into the Sabha box. The set piece floated into the box, was missed by the Sabha defender, and the ball landed onto the head of the Burghfield player, looping over the keeper and into the back of the net sending the Burghfield players and coaches into wild celebrations with a mini pitch invasion.

In contrast, it sent the Sabha management team onto their knees in complete utter shock and disbelief of what had just happened. There was barely time to do anything as Sabha restarted the game and the final whistle was blown seconds later.

The Burghfield players cheered wildly as they had just made history by progressing to the second round of the FA Sunday cup. Sabha's players and coaches congratulated Burghfield who, with their hunger and desire, were fully deserved winners. For Sabha its back to the drawing board now and focus on the Saturday and Sunday league with plenty of competition to play for across both days.

Singh Sabha would like to thank their sponsor Sporting Equals who made this opportunity to play in the FA Sunday cup a reality and also were on hand on the day to support the team. The team would also like to thank Burnham FC to allow us to use their amazing ground to create a spectacle for the fans, and they would like to wish Burghfield good luck for the season and for the next round. 

Goals: Harry Laflin (two), Hassan Mahmood

MOTM: Jovan Bains

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