This Plate Semi-Final had all you’d want from a cup match; plenty of goals, come backs, commitment, air kicks and winning goals in the dark. Hibs were largely unchanged (3 changes counts for this) for about the 4th game running and had players in form so they knew they had a chance here against the best team in the league this year. Hibs were at it straight away and caused TGA problems with Dan and An Rui a handful and Julio heading just over. Hibs did take the lead when An Rui got a run down the left and crossed for Dan who controlled and scored the opening goal. TGA came to life after drinks and started to up the tempo and in the space of one minute Hibs very nearly scored a second and then on the break Sharples suddenly had some space and he turned on the jets to break away and score. Second half, and Hibs lost Buffy to injury and went behind but TGA struggled to contain Dan and An Rui and that combination got them level and then deservedly in front at 3-2. Hibs switched off to let TGA equalise and at drinks it was 3-3. Nick had a bit of a breakdown with the stress of it all, but everyone else was quite calm and the lads were confident they’d create more chances. TGA seemed convinced they'd break Hibs' resistance and they'd tire maybe because Joey was playing mind games with them and his team with his injured/not injured tease. Colin made a couple of great saves and Dan and An Rui combined again to go close as both sides were giving everything. Darkness started to become an issue and at the FT whistle the teams knew the full amount of ET was impossible. 15 minutes straight was played and TGA played like they were behind and threw nearly everyone forward but they created little. What they did leave was massive gaps at the back and Marko looked up and saw Dan in oceans of space and he put him clear. After about 15 touches, a midfielder caught up and was very obliging in dragging Dan down for a penalty with a couple of minutes left and visibility almost a hazard. Dan scored to complete his hat-trick and send Hibs through and the Hibs Legends wild, who had stayed on after their own dramatic win. What a game and credit to TGA for a hard fought game. MoM was Dan for Hibs as the goals and assists continue to flow and Sharples for TGA who was a handful as always.
TGA came in this semi final against Hibs full of optimism this would be a great opportunity to get through to Tampines for another final. Despite a few first teamers away and a young lad in goal we were confident of getting the result. We started the game controlling possession, knocking it around nicely in the sweltering heat but without really penetrating the defence. The first goal came from our corner when it broke clear 2 Hibs players broke away against 3 defenders....Hibs scored when common sense meant all 3 defenders ran towards 1 leaving a spare man at the back post to tap in. Rangers equalised just before half time when Sharples ran on to a through ball and calmly stroked home. HT 1-1. The second half was a bit more of the same, Hibs playing solidly and Rangers trying to probe to get the breakthrough but being a bit vulnerable to a breakaway. One of our chances Sharpy made space down the left to pull a cross for the marauding Frando to finish from 6 yards. Hibs roared straight back and within 10 minutes were back 3-2 up when Dan Martin ghosted in to slide home and also finished well from another chance. With the game seemingly going out of reach TGA cracked up another gear and had to up their game. A Sharpy set piece was headed home by Frando late on to take the game to extra time (which no one really wanted!!) The 15 minute extra time was a tired affair, both teams looking like penalties was the best offer but after the ball broke down in the last minute, when we were trying to move forward from the back, Dan Martin was left alone to run through on goal. Paddy sprinted back but could only let both calf’s cramp up at the inopportune time of the tackle. Penalty rightly given and Dan completed his hat trick to win the game 4-3. Hibs were more clinical on the day and if we had taken our chances in the 90mins we would have likely won. Congrats to Hibs, it’s the best Hibs team we’ve faced for a while and we wish you all the best in the final.