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Close calls in Men’s Semi-Final Matches

Portobello and City of Manchester won their respective semi-finals on the first day of competition at the British Gas Water Polo Championships 2012.

The first semi-final saw Portobello, who are celebrating their centenary this year; take on last year’s champions Bristol Central.

Bristol started strongly, winning the first quarter three-one and the second drawing one a piece, with goal keeper Andrew Crawford saving a barrage of Portobello shots. They led going into half time with a two goal cushion.

After the break, the Scotsmen resumed their fight back, claiming two goals to draw the match level before Bristol scored again at the end of quarter three.
With Portobello gaining momentum, it was all to play for in the final quarter. Portobello’s left wing James Scobie scored quickly after the swim off for the Scots, only to have Bristol return the favour just 20 seconds late

Scobie had a penalty saved after a fantastic effort from Crawford, the winger got his revenge scoring twice, his third of the quarter just five seconds from the final whistle to take the game into extra time.

Portobello were first to score in extra time, taking advantage of the man-up, but their efforts were neutralised soon afterwards with Bristol following suit.

With nothing separating the teams, the result was determined in the last throw of the game with in form Scobie.  Hitting the back of the net with no time to spare, taking the game and a spot in tomorrow’s final 9-8.

Scobie, who scored the crucial goals for Portobello to take them into extra time, and then again for their place in the finals was delighted with his team’s progression.

“It was close at the end, I had to shoot to stay in the game or it was over, so I went for it,” he said. “I decided on a cross gauge lob, it paid of and we took the win.

“It great to get the win, especially against Bristol as they’re a really good team, but we’ve been playing really well in the Super 5 which gave us the edge at the end of that game.

“We are confident ahead of tomorrow’s final game. We haven’t lost in six or seven matches so we’re looking forward to the match.”

Their final opposition was determined in the second semi final, where home side City of Manchester faced Cheltenham.

Manchester proved dominant in the first quarter, winning 2-1 after goals from Craig Hammond and Rob Rae, and the second a goal apiece to make it 3-2 at half time.

Cheltenham came back from the break with the bit between their teeth, hitting the woodwork before scoring two goals in quick succession from Legge and Taylor. Manchester quickly followed up with a goal from Kirke before Legge got the equaliser.

In form Hammond got another one to put Manchester back ahead before Thomas played some quick ball to score again for Cheltenham to put the teams on evens heading into the final quarter.

Manchester maintained their composure and got a goal shortly before the final buzzer to take the win and the set up their match with Portobello tomorrow.

Top goal scorer Craig Hammond said: “It was a game of two tales. We felt like we were in control but they kept fighting throughout the game. Cheltenham have a lot of quality players and they showed real fight.

“I felt like we had good composure throughout the game to play our own game and win the match.

“We’ve definitely got things to work on ahead of the game tomorrow against Portobello but we’ve had good results against them recently but they have been on a string of good results so we’ll need to set ourselves up for the final tomorrow.”

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