Cleethorpes Town 3 Bamber Bridge 3
OWLS HELD IN CUP CLASSIC
Clee welcomed Evostik Premier outfit Bamber Bridge to New Linden for an FA Cup 2nd Round qualifier. Optimism was high around the camp after last week’s hammering of Belper Town.
It came as no surprise that the management team went for an unchanged starting XI from last Saturday, as follows:
Goal: Dylan Parkin
Defence: Sam Topliss, Tim Lowe, Matt Bloomer, Paul Walker
Midfield: Jack Richardson, Craig Disley, Alex Flett (captain), Josh Batty
Attack: Scott Vernon, Brody Robertson
Subs: Mark Gray, Lewis Collins, Laurence McKay, Oli Donald, David Birch
The Owls enjoyed a very bright start to the encounter, with an Oglesby cross causing alarm in the visiting defence as early as the 2nd minute. This was followed by a Walker header rattling the bar and a fierce Robertson effort blocked when looking destined for the net.
It was largely one-way traffic as Clee refused to let the higher-ranked side settle. The deserved breakthrough arrived with 15 minutes gone. Brody Robertson (pictured in earlier scoring action) latched on to a through ball and, after calmly setting himself, the striker lashed the ball past Lloyd Rigby.
The crowd was being treated to some flowing football from the home side and a Batty shot needed to be carefully watch by stopper Rigby. However, a second goal which had looked likely to come for Clee actually fell, against the run of play, to Brig just past the half-hour mark.
After Parkin had made a fine save from Matt Dudley, he was powerless to deny Brad Carsley, who glanced home a header from a teasing right-wing cross to draw the visitors level.
Rather than deflate the Owls, it seemed to act as a spur and the lead was retaken after 39 minutes. A long ball forward looked as though it would be collected by Rigby. However, Brody Robertson had other ideas. Under pressure from the persistent forward, the keeper completely missed the ball. This allowed Robertson to step inside a last-ditch sliding challenge and roll the ball into the unguarded net.
Parkin was required to be alert to keep out a Matt Lawlor header and it was Clee who headed for the dressing rooms with a narrow, but well-earned, advantage.
HT Cleethorpes Town 2 (Robertson 15, 39) Bamber Bridge 1 (Carsley 32)
Within 60 seconds of the restart, Oglesby ghosted in and his powerful header was superbly pawed away by Rigby. In a re-run of the opening to the tie, it was the Owls in the ascendancy and the much needed 2-goal cushion was gained just before the hour.
Josh Batty was allowed far too much space around 8-yards out and he rose high to direct a delivery from the left into the corner of Rigby’s goal.
In the next phase of the game, McKay and Collins came on for Walker and Batty respectively. Disley also received a caution for a foul in midfield.
Brig were rocking at this stage and, with the Owls looking comfortable, a shot from captain Flett flew just too high. A fourth would have put the game to bed but, to their credit, the visitors were still battling hard and they gave themselves a lifeline with 15 minutes left.
Jordan Darr tested Parkin but the young keeper got down low to fingertip the ball behind. However, from the resultant corner, a looping far-post header from Carsley agonisingly found the target via the post.
Boosted by this, the visitors sensed they could now avoid the upset and a spell of pressure ended with the equaliser after 81 minutes. A shot cannoned back off the inside of Parkin’s post but it was to be a short-lived reprieve. Carsley was lurking on the corner of the 6-yard box and he completed his hat-trick courtesy of a deflection.
It was now end-to-end and, with the game becoming stretched and open, both sides were giving their all to find the knock-out blow. After the woodwork was struck by Oglesby for Clee, a towering Matt Lawlor header went within a foot of winning it for Brig.
As 6 minutes of added time were indicated, the home faithful’s frayed nerves did not prevent them from providing superb backing. As they urged their troops forward for one final push, Collins went desperately close to being the hero.
It was not to be though and the final action saw Lowe booked, which will keep him out of Tuesday’s replay. The whistle sounded and, after 90 plus pulsating minutes, both sides remain in the hat for the Third Round Qualifying draw on Monday.
FT Cleethorpes Town 3 (Robertson 15, 39, Batty 59) Bamber Bridge 3 (Carsley 32, 75, 81) Attendance: 302
So near yet so far would sum it up!
There only looked to be one winner at 3-1 but we just could not kill them off. Perhaps we will just have to find a bigger bus to park for the replay! In all seriousness though, we are still trying to unlock the secret of making us a more solid unit when we are required to defend.
At the other end, of course, we now look full of goals. Scott Vernon and Brody Robertson are forming a promising partnership and, with Josh Batty and the excellent Jon Oglesby on the flanks, we have a potent front 4. Do we need to sacrifice some of this flair for more steel? It is a real conundrum for the management to ponder.
For me, there is too much space between our defence and midfield for opposing teams to exploit. So, do we play a “spoiler” in there to break-up attacks in some kind of 4-1-3-2 formation or perhaps even the often derided “diamond”. Or maybe 3-5-2 with wing-backs? The possibilities are endless…
One thing I think we can all agree on is that Marcus and Dave will get to the bottom of it! We are far from out of this tie and, even though on paper we have missed our best chance, we are more than capable of winning on Tuesday.
FA Cup – 2nd Round Qualifying (replay)
Bamber Bridge (away)
Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Bamber Bridge, PR5 6UX
Tuesday 25th September – 7.45pm (if level after 90 minutes, extra time then penalties)
Adults £9, Concessions £6, Under 16s (with full paying adult) £1, Under 11s free
UP THE OWLS!