Extra Preliminary Round Replays
North Greenford United 2 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)
Tuffley Rovers exited the Emirates FA Cup at the first stage, for the second consecutive season, as they produced a mediocre second-half performance in their replay away at Spartan South Midland Premier Division side North Greenford United.
After a fairly evenly matched 1-1 draw in the first game the previous weekend, Rovers made the long midweek trip to Middlesex, arriving a little over 45 minutes before kick-off, but the 2 ½ journey seemed to have little effect on their performance in the early stages, with Mark Pritchett’s side coming out of the blocks at a terrific pace.
Pritchett had made two enforced changes to his starting eleven, due to Jai Maisey and Ryan Caddock’s work commitments ruling them out, and he recalled Declan Earwaker and Brett James, with the latter a welcome addition to a team who had lacked a little attacking threat in the first tie.
Rovers were immediately on the front foot, although the hosts threatened on the counter-attack, but chances were few in the opening ten minutes and a Jack Beardsell shot from distance was the only notable effort.
On thirteen minutes Rovers early dominance looked to have paid dividends, when Warren Mann’s cross from the right appeared to bypass a crowd of players in the box, with Dom Kent swinging and missing as he attempted a volley, and landed at the feet of Jake Rhodes, who finished with aplomb past Sam House, the recalled keeper in the North Greenford goal. The Rovers player had clearly been onside at the point of Mann’s delivery, but the Assistant raised his flag as Saturday’s scorer received the pass, and signalled offside, so the goal was ruled out.
Another excellent cross, just a few moments later, found Jack Phillips in space at the back post, but although he met the ball in space, his header was weak and went well wide, with House untested.
It wasn’t one-way traffic and Alex Avenell had to make an important intervention, punching well clear when under pressure from a set-piece.
The 20 minute mark arrived and Rovers wasted yet another glorious chance to go in front, as Mann produced yet another superb cross, finding James in space at the far post, but the recalled forward somehow contrived to hit the post from two yards out, and the moment was compounded for Pritchett’s side, as the ball bounced away from Rhodes who was closing in on the rebound.
North Greenford once again showed they posed some threat, despite their visitors’ dominance, and they might have taken the lead when Joe Mills almost profited on some slack defending, but he shot wide when well placed. The same player then worked a second chance of his own, but this time his effort went over the Rovers bar.
With 37 minutes gone, Rovers were temporarily reduced to ten-men, with Luke Troke receiving treatment for a knock, and they were denied another chance, as Mann had a shot on goal from the edge of the area that appeared to be blocked by Sam Olanipekun’s hand, with the player diving to block a shot that was both powerful and on target. Once again, the match officials’ decision went against Rovers and this was to prove a crucial moment.
Troke left the field immediately, to be replaced by Lewis Bainbridge, which prompted a reshuffle, with James forced back into a defensive position, and moments later the hosts capitalised on some uncertainty amidst the Rovers backline, as Dan Clifton found space and fired a shot low, across Avenell, and into the back of the net, to make it 1-0 on 40 minutes.
Rhodes then had an almost immediate chance to level the scores but his shot went well wide of House’s goal, with the keeper judging his angles well. Unfortunately for the North Greenford United keeper, his next action was a moment of misjudgement, as Bainbridge’s cross appeared to be heading comfortably into his hands, only for House to let it go – presumably on the assumption it was going wide of his goal – and into the back of the net. A 44th minute equaliser, very much deserved, but entirely made up of the sort of good fortune that had otherwise deserted Rovers in the first period.
The second period started in stark contrast to the way in which the first had been played out. Neither side appeared to be capable of mounting a serious attack, but the hosts were having all the pressure. They very nearly made it count, on 56 minutes, as Sam Molyneaux had a terrific first touch, from a ranging cross-field pass from Olanipekun, and produced a venomous shot, but it cannoned off the frame of the Rovers goal and away to safety.
By now, the game was one-way traffic and Rovers eventually fell behind, just after the hour mark. Pritchett made a reckless challenge on the dangerous Mills, earning a caution and giving his side a free-kick to defend. Clinton was the man of the moment again, as he smashed a free-kick past the outside of the wall and into the bottom corner of Avenell’s net, to make it 2-1.
If there was hope amongst the small band of travelling Rovers supporters that this would provoke their side into recovering the positivity of the first-half performance, the response from Pritchett’s men was quite the opposite, as they produced a tepid display, lacking quality and, if anything, they looked more likely to fall further behind, as the hosts counter-attacking football came to the fore.
Such was the lamentable nature of the second half performance that Kent’s last minute effort on goal was their first serious effort on target in the final half hour and that did nothing more than wake House from the risk of complacency.
When the final whistle sounded, after more than 8 minutes added time, a limp second-half showing spelt the end of Rovers’ participation in England’s premiere cup competition, sending North Greenford United to what was ultimately a deserved Preliminary Round tie against Gloucestershire Southern League side, Cirencester Town.
Westfields 4 Congleton Town 1
Westfields went through to the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup last night and earned themselves a home tie on Saturday 24th August against Lutterworth Town when they gave a non-stop end-to-end performance to overcome visiting North-West Counties Premier Division side Congleton Town 4-1 in a replay.
After drawing their FA Cup tie at Congleton on Saturday 1-1 Westfields knew that they were in for a hard battle but Aidan Thomas and Craig Jones who both missed the trip to Congleton on Saturday were brought into the side and both were instrumental in providing Westfields with a passage through to the next round.
Match Sponsored by Truland Construction, builders of Holmer, Hereford.
Didcot Town Development 4 Langley 2
This was a cracking match played at breakneck speed with some marvellous goals on a lovely balmy night at Loop Meadow Stadium in Didcot. Both teams were fully committed which made for a great spectacle for the crowd who enjoyed the good lead up play and fine finishing.
The first Didcot goal arrived in the 16th minute when Andi Noka was released although it initially looked as though he was forced wide he came up with a fine chip over the Langley keeper Bradley O'Hara. Just two minutes later and it was 2-0 when Ross MacDonald was fouled on the edge of the box and Keiron Davies fired the free kick home. The score only lasted 8 minutes when Conrad Joseph hit a marvellous volley from just outside the box which gave Didcot keeper Josh Bateman no chance, 2-1.
Both teams had chances for further goals Jack Hollister for the home team could not convert a 1 on 1 with O'Hara in goal making a fine save before Bradley Walton hit a wonder strike just under the bar from 25 yards to make it 3-1 Didcot. Back came Langley though and Calvin Martin headed home a cross for 3-2 at half time.
The second half was lacking in goals but was still played at a frenetic pace and Conrad dragged a shot wide for Langley. Good crosses from Noka and MacDonald just failed to reach intended targets and Noka and Davies played a neat 1-2 before the latter could not hit the target for Didcot. In an end to end spell and with 8 minutes remaining James Tanner played a fine 1-2 and was released at the perfect time to go through the defence and just beat O'Hara to the ball and lift a chip in to the top of the net to put Didcot 4-2 up and have the crowd on their feet.
Risborough Rangers 4 Kidlington Development 1
Risborough maintained their fine start to life in the uhlsport Hellenic League with a comfortable 4-1 win against their visitors.
Rangers were out of the blocks from the off and the lively Sam Pekun should have put the home side ahead within the first five minutes only to see his two tame efforts saved by keeper Nick Lacey. However Rangers took the lead on 20 mins when a cross from Ben Hammond was met at the far post by the head of skipper Joel Read, who powered home.
Pekun made up for his earlier misses when a lung bursting run past the central defenders saw him brought down in the penalty area and Brian Haule converted the resultant penalty on 34 mins (his fifth goal in three games). On 39 mins saw the goal of the game, when skipper Read hit a stunning shot from the half-way line which sailed over Kidlington's keeper into the back of the net.
The second half saw Rangers control the ever pressing threat of the visitors, but home keepr Jack Brooker had to wait until the 70th minute before he made his first save of the evening, but after that he dealt with what few attacks were mustered adequately. Rangers fired their fourth goal in the 88th Minute when sub Laurence Clark scored direct from a free-kick to virtually wrap the game up.
Kidlington had the last say in the game when centre-forward Anaclet Odhiambo was brought down inside the Rangers penalty area in added time. The striker picked himself up to slot home the penalty to give the visitors some crumb of consolation.
Cheltenham Saracens 1 Hereford Lads Club 3
Wednesday's match against Hereford Lads Club was disappointing. It wasn’t from lack of trying from our lads, HLC just prepped to be a more physical side, pushing us off the ball and never giving us the chance to play the more skilful football we prefer to play.
Sam Mason set us off to a good start, playing a speculative shot from out wide, forcing a save from the Keeper. A minute later, he tried again, forcing the Keeper to give away a corner, but we lost possession too easily.
HLC opened up the scoring in the 8th minute when Tom Bendall benefited from a poor clearance. His shot from range found our empty net to push them 1-0 in front. The match was fraught, seeing a flurry of yellow cards (for both teams) following tasty tackles. The next goal came in the 36th minute when Jamie Cuthbertson capitalised on the second corner given away in as many minutes. 2-0.
But Sarries weren’t giving up. We managed to half the deficit in the 42nd minute when Kai Mahon shot from a tight angle into the box. There was a goal mouth scramble with some last ditch defending, but Harlie Price got the last touch, pushing the ball over the line to put us 2-1 down going into half time.
The second half started with some great efforts from Mason and Mahon, but nothing stuck. 9 minutes into the second half, we lost possession in our defensive third, with Bendall once again taking advantage of our slip up to put them 3-1 up. HLC spent much of the second half during long balls at our Keeper, Mack Sadler, who did well to keep them all out of his net. This long ball tactic suited them, but it didn’t give us a chance to get back into the game. Despite picking up a yellow card in the first half, Liam Brignull had a great defensive game, working hard alongside Oliver, Bernard and Smith.
It seems the newly promoted Midlands teams play a tougher, more physical style that we’ll need to learn to stand up to if we want to beat them later in the season. But it’s still early days for us, we’ve got plenty left to give this coming season.
Match report by Jemma & Jerry Howse
Cheltenham Saracens 1 Hereford Lads Club 3 (away view)
Lads Club got off to a slow start nearly gifting the Saracens strikers a goal when the dangerous Kai Mahon broke from the left and cut in at the front post but his lay off was blocked by Liam Jones and then cleared by Tom Dawson.
Lads Club had a counter attack when a great through ball by Adam Hockey was collected by Tom Bendall who passed inside for Adam Newbury to drag his shot wide of the front post.
A poor short corner by Saracens was easily cut out by Newbury, who after evading a challenge put a long ball over the top for Adam Hockey to race past his marker to only see his header hit the oncoming keeper but young forward Bendall followed up and hit a first time volley from 25 yards into the back of the net.
A waste high challenge on Jamie Cuthbertson by Saracens midfielder Liam Brignull was fortunately for him deemed as a yellow card offence,
Newbury got the only yellow card of the game for Lads Club when he tripped Saracens skipper Ryan Smith just inside their own half.
Newbury delivered a great far post freekick towards Cuthbertson only for Matt Barnard to head behind his own goal.
Another bad tackle by Dan Gittens who went through the back of Hockey and justly picked up Saracens second yellow card.
The freekick from this foul was again put in the box by Newbury only to see Cuthbertson head wide of the front post.
Mahon was given to much time and space and managed to dribble 20 yards through the middle of the park only to see his shot dribble through into the hands of Lads Club keeper Steven Bell.
Hockey had a great chance to double the lead when debutant Nick Britton put in a through ball on the floor to him and as he dribbled towards goal unleashed a strike that just went past the far post.
Some trickery by Mahon down the left hand side brought himself a freekick as he cut inside and toe poked the ball past Kalum Wildig and was tripped.
Mahon picked himself up and hit the freekick which hit the front post and hit Bell on the head and went out for a corner.
A corner from Newbury was cleared by the Saracens defence and as Cuthbertson chased the ball back towards his own half Adam loveridge must have thought Wildig was going to collect the ball and slid through the back of him whilst Cuthbertson turned and passed the ball to Dawson, a strange decision to not give a freekick there, which brought a lot of amusement from the fans watching.
As luck turns out Dawson's pass was put out for a corner and from that corner Lads Club doubled their lead with Newbury aiming for the front post run of Cuthbertson and with him and his marker missing the ball it fell kindly for Jones to finish at the back post.
Lads Club only kept it at that scoreline for a few minutes as Saracens got a goal back after calamity defending, firstly losing the ball outside their own 18 yard box with Mahon playing in Loveridge who went around Bell and went for goal from a tight angle only for Jones to block on the line and with trying to flick the ball away from between his legs under pressure from Harlie Price he kicked it against fullback Ben Fuller who couldn't really have time to adjust his body to get out of the way and the ball just went over the goal line.
Still with a minute to go until half time a deep cross by Britton was met on the volley by Hockey who just missed the target.
Another freekick for Lads Club as Newbury put the ball into the box for Cuthbertson to head wide from the edge of the box.
Cheltenham Saracens 1 Hereford Lads Club 2
Ben Fuller o.g Tom Bendall
Saracens got the first chance of the second half when a cross from the right was headed well wide by Loveridge at the front post.
Lads Club extended their lead when closing down the Saracens back four by Bendall, Britton and Wildig ended with the latter passing to Bendall who shot from just outside the box to finish.
A freekick by Newbury from the touchline at halfway was met by Cuthbertson who headed the ball straight in to the keepers hands.
Saracens managed to get a shot off from the edge of the box after a corner was cleared but the ball sailed 15 yards wide.
Good work by Alex Lancett and Newbury nearly set up Britton at the front post only for the keeper to bundle the ball wide.
From this corner the ball was cleared to Hockey who played the ball to Wildig only to see his shot clear the stand.
A cross out wide by Newbury should have been put in the back of the net with it looking like Cuthbertson and Britton leaving it for each other.
An audacious attempt at goal by Newbury from the halfway line landed just over the bar with Mark Sadler in the Saracens goal left stranded.
Another great chance as again the dangerous Newbury put a cross in this time with his left foot only for Cuthbertson to bring the ball down and smash the ball over from 6 yards.
Price and Newbury squared up when Price fouled Newbury with no intention of going for the ball but was just handbags.
A freekick out wide was put into the box only for Barnard to head high and wide for Saracens.
Substitute Hancock's had a great chance to extend the lead but took to long to get his shot off and the chance filtered away.
There was a late challenge on Dawson by Saracens sub Jamie Hammond but I think the ref made the correct decision in not booking him as it wasn't malicious and Dawson was just to quick for him.
But this decision he ref got very wrong as Cuthbertson made a fine tackle by the touchline and I don't think the Saracens substitute Josh Watts liked it and got up and flew in two footed on Lancett who luckily got out the way, I don't know why but the ref lectured the player for a couple of minutes and gave Lads Club a throw in, don't think you will get a clearer red card offence than this all season.
Saracens were now getting the ball out wide and pumping the ball into the box but to no avail with substitute Harry Saunders heading away on one occasion and then Jones also heading away form another deep cross,
Dawson hit a half volley from a distance which seemed to dip at the last second and went closer than originally thought.
A through ball to Hammond was dealt with by Bell who saved with his legs to put the ball wide.
Two corners on the bounce were dealt with by Cuthbertson and Lancett with strong headers away from the danger area.r
A long shot by Liam Brignull cleared the upright for Saracens after shooting from 25 yards.
Hancock's made some runs from deep with the ball and was pulled back a few times and on one occasion was pulled back by Mahon and whilst on the ground the ref missed Smith Kicking out at Hancock's, Mahon managed to talk himself into the book.
From the freekick Saunders put in a deep cross which sub Ashley Lear looked like he was nudged off the ball, but the ball went out for a goalkick.