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19 December 2020


Malvern Town 5 Sporting Khalsa 5 (Malvern won 6-5 penalties)
Malvern Town and Sporting Khalsa served up a memorable Cup tie. It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions throughout and great drama for the capacity crowd as it ended 5-5 at the end of normal time before we won 6-5 on penalties to overcome higher level opponents.

Both teams were sizing each other up in the opening exchanges as Matt Turner won a free-kick in a promising position in the fifth minute which Louis Loader hit goalwards only for the ‘keeper to make the save. The visitors took the lead in rather fortuitous circumstances shortly afterwards when a low ball in from McKenzie was deflected into the net off a Malvern defender. We were seeing plenty of the ball and a deep cross from Lewis Platt picked out Joe Bates who tried to set himself up for a strike but was crowded out. The equaliser came on 17 minutes when a free-kick from the left was delivered sweetly onto the head of Jay Sauntson whose effort went in off the post.

With our tails up, we started to grow into the game and went in front on 22 minutes when Harry Clark broke out wide on the left before tucking the ball into the far corner of the net. We were working hard to prevent our opponents from getting into their stride as Williams fired well wide after finding some space, then Singh went close. On 37 minutes we extended our lead when Clark was played through and he stayed cool to slot past the advancing ‘keeper.

As our opponents looked to hit back, a free-kick was met with a deft header from Williams which went just wide. Right on the stroke of half-time, Keiron Blackburn did well to save from McKenzie as we went in at the break deservedly in front.

The second half saw us come out with purpose once more and it wasn’t long before Bates added to our lead as the ball found its way to him via a header from James Febery. We were playing some neat football and a break from Turner saw the ‘keeper block and as the redound fell to Bullock, his strike was cleared off the line. Shortly afterwards a header from Robinson reduced the arrears before we won a penalty straight from the restart which was saved by Arnold from Turner as we put the rebound over. Two goals in a minute, from Gosling who rounded the ‘keeper, and then a scrambled effort in front of goal brought it back to 4-4.

We refused to let our heads drop and from a corner, Clark’s header was cleared off the line as the game became frantic. A fantastic clearance off the line from Bullock kept us on level terms as the momentum swung to our opponents. With time running out, Robinson fouled Turner on the edge of the area and as Loader’s free-kick was deflected, Clark was on hand to poke home and put us back in front. We had a chance from a breakaway in the last minute as Clark’s chip was saved.

In stoppage time a free-kick for the visitors was headed goalwards and the ball crossed the line despite Blackburn’s brave attempts to keep it out to make it 5-5.

What a game and what a Cup tie as it went to penalties, which we won 6-5 with Blackburn saving a crucial spot-kick as our opponents sensed victory before Adam Sauntson stayed calm to grab the winner in sudden death.

Malvern Town: Blackburn, A. Sauntson, J. Sauntson, Harris, L. Loader, Febery (Billingham 52), Bullock, Platt, Bates, Turner, Clark. Subs not used: Smith, Fusco, Hayes, Chowns Higgs, Paddock, J. Loader.

BOOKING(S): L. Loader GOAL(S): J. Sauntson, Clark (3), Bates

 Radford 0 Westfields 5 (away view)

Westfields went through to the Fourth Round of the FA Vase when they reached the last 32 of the competition with a comfortable victory over Radford from the East Midland League in Nottingham. 

Westfields got off to a dream start when they scored 2 goals in the first 11 minutes. First, Aidan Thomas put over a pin-point cross which the home defence failed to deal with and Sirdic Grant raced in at the far post to put Westfields ahead with a close-range effort.  Two minutes later it was Grant who provided the opportunity and this time he laid on the perfect pass for Richard Greaves to slot home from 12 yards to put Westfields into a dream start with only 11 minutes on the clock. 

Little was seen of the home attack as they failed to break through Kane Kahaki and Ryan Green at the heart of the defence and with Westfields’ wingers Aidan Thomas and Sirdic Grant both causing problems down the flank the home defence were struggling to contain a lively Westfields side. 

After the break Westfields again took up the running and after 67 minutes Richard Greaves turned provider when he set up a chance for Keanu Cooper who guided a low shot past Joe Searson in the Radford goal to put Westfields 3-0 ahead. A few minutes later Man of the Match Richard Greaves netted his second when on a quick counter-attack after Steve Sarkodie had caught a long cross he put Aidan Thomas clear down the flank and Thomas’ cross was whipped home by Richard Greaves to put Westfields into an unassailable 4-0 lead. 

Five minutes from time Westfields put the game beyond any doubt when substitute Henry Dyed rounded off a superb team performance when he slotted home a left-foot shot from just the edge of the penalty area to give Westfields a resounding victory and a place in the Fourth Round of the FA Vase for the fourth time in their history.  

Westfields now have an attractive local derby in the Hellenic League Premier Division to look forward to on Monday 28th December, kick-off 2pm, as Westfields look to move up the league table following this excellent FA Vase win. 

Radford 0 Westfields 5 (home view)
It was a humbling departure to the FA Vase for Radford as they were thoroughly beaten 5-0 by Herefordshire side Westfields. Two goals inside the first 10 minutes put the step five side in pole position and they never looked back, adding three more goals after the break.

Featuring in the third round of the competition for the very first time, the Pheasants came up against a side who were all too familiar with the latter stages of the Vase. It was a fifth consecutive appearance in the third round for Westfields, with both their experience and ability clear to see, right from the first whistle.

On seven minutes, Aiden Thomas’ cross slipped out of the grasp of Joe Searson in the Radford net and was smashed home by winger Sirdic Grant. The Hellenic Premier League side doubled their lead moments later after another mishap in the Radford backline. Westfields winger Grant, who’s pace was causing all sorts of problems for the Pheasants, dispossessed Matt Hopewell and pushed the ball past Searson leaving a routine finish for forward Richard Greaves. After conceding two goals in quick succession, the Pheasants stemmed the flow and managed to prevent the match completely slipping away from them. However, they struggled to test visitors’ keeper Steve Sarkodie for much of the first-half. Prince Mancinelli went closest to finding the target for Radford, running from deep before firing just over the bar on 28 minutes.

After the restart, Radford were far more threatening in the visitors’ half but still unable to find the back of the net. On 64 minutes, Westfields highlighted their quality once more. Greaves showed great strength to hold up the ball with his back to goal before teeing up his strike partner Keanu Cooper who guided a curling effort into the bottom corner.

As the Pheasants pushed for any sort of consolation, the Herefordshire side were able to find space on the flanks and they ultimately used it to their advantage. Smart play from Sarkodie allowed Westfields to break quickly from a goal kick. A few touches later and danger man Greaves was tapping home from less than a yard out after an inch-perfect cross picked the forward out at the back post. With just five minutes left to play, substitute Henry Dyde finished the rout for the visitors, striking a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Despite the heavy defeat that saw the Pheasants exit the FA Vase, they can look back on this season’s competition with a sense of pride. Two penalty shootout wins, a record victory on the road in Birmingham and a first ever appearance in the third round. All eyes now turn to the East Midlands Counties League, with the Pheasants looking to use their impressive FA Vase performances to climb up the table