Let's take that Semi-Final first. Stratton United of the Stroud & District League Division 4 (Step 13) v Kingswood Reserves, Stroud & District Division 7 (Step 16). As I said, I have not seen either of these sides play, so I am very much looking forward to being at the game this coming Wednesday evening. Stratton, you have to say, hold all of the cards in terms of playing three divisions higher than their opponents and having already beaten Kingswood 3-1 in the group stage. Then again, in the last 16, Kingswood ran out 2-0 winners over Kingshill Sports who also play in the Stroud & District League, in Division 8, two divisions above Kingswood, so they have form in beating higher ranked opponents. They progressed through the Quarter-Final by means of a 2-0 walkover after Redhouse Vets conceded the game. Stratton defeated Kingswood's league-mates Minety Development in the last 16 before also creating something of a cupset in the Quarter-Final when they recorded a 2-1 win over Step 8 side Ashton Keynes.
With a place in the Final at stake, I am expecting a competitve game on Wednesday.
The second Semi-Final features two teams that have made a big impression on me in this competition. Jovial Monk are the only Sunday league team in the competiton but they have already shown that they are more than capable of mixing it with the Saturday teams. This was clearly demonstrated when they held Step 8 side Nalgo Sports to a 1-1 draw, before beating them in a penalty shootout in their last 16 tie. Their thoroughly professional performance in seeing off Siddington 5-1 in the Quarter-Final should also serve as a warning, especially the fact that they were annoyed to concede a late goal even though the game was already in the bag. Swindon AFC, who I saw take apart Step 7 Ludgershall Sports on Saturday, will no doubt be up for anything thrown at them in the Semi-Final. Their performace at the weekend was very impressive indeed, completely domintaing a team two divisions above them and, although they did not win a group match, their dogged display at Redhouse showed that they can also dig in if need be.
So, who's going to progress to the Final? Well, to be honest, your guess is as good as mine. Stratton should be favourites against Kingswood Reserves but after last weekend's three underdog wins, who knows how it will go. I'm looking forward to watching it unfold on Wednesday evening. As for the other game, I certainly would not like to call that one, but I do think it will also be a game well worth watching. Date and time will be announced on the #BotP Twitter feed wjhen known.
Good luck to all involved. Whoever gets to the Final, I hope I will be there to see it.