Diddy progress in FA Cup
Gardner and McNish goals seal impressive away victory
Didcot Town progressed to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday following an excellent 2-1 victory away at Bostik Premier Division side Wingate & Finchley thanks to a goal in each half by Brett Gardner and Callum McNish.
The first chance of the game arrived inside the first 10 minutes when following a free kick for the hosts the ball fell to Reece Beckles-Richards but the Wingate & Finchley could only drag his close range shot wide of Leigh Bedwell’s post.
Despite the pristine playing surface both sides were struggling to get any rhythm to their play and chances were at a premium. Out of nowhere and with their first real opportunity Didcot took the lead. McNish picking the ball up and playing a nice 1-2 with Aaron Woodley, the ball was moved to Morgan Williams who played the perfect through ball to youngster Gardner, the Didcot winger took a touch and calmly clotted the ball under home goalkeeper Shane Gore and Didcot were in front.
The Railwaymen though they may have had a penalty on 30 minutes when Sam Barder’s free kick was played towards Luke Carnell, he was impeded in the box but the referee decided it wasn’t enough to warrant a penalty.
Half time Wingate & Finchley 0-1 Didcot Town
The 2nd half continued in a similar theme, the hosts maybe having the slightly better of the play but they weren’t hurting Didcot, having seen off the initial response, Didcot scored again. Gardner again involved played the ball out to Sam Barder who’s low cross was partially deflected but it fell straight to McNish who from 5 yards tapped home Didcot’s 2nd goal from their 2nd real attack in the game.
Wingate tried to respond and Bedwell did well to turn over a stinging shot from the left hand side and other than a header by Marc Charles-Smith going wide the hosts were running out of ideas to break down a strong Didcot defensive performance lead by centre backs Carnell and Learoyd.
With the game drifting towards a fairly comfortable Didcot victory the game ended in bizarre fashion. On 87 minutes a cross from the right was slightly too high for Carnell to head, he stretched back and just flicked the ball away but Sam Barder who was stood behind him couldn’t get out of the way, the ball hitting his hand and the referee gave Wingate & Finchley a late lifeline awarding a penalty. Sean Cronin stepped up and blasted the ball home into the roof of the net to set up a frantic last 5 minutes.
The drama didn’t end there though as Didcot were awarded a free kick for a fairly cynical challenge by Cronin on the half way line, the referee was on the scene with 2 or 3 Didcot players and the next moment McNish was getting a 2nd yellow card and subsequent red. It was truly bizarre but was for something the Didcot midfielder had said. Didcot played the remaining 2 or 3 minutes with 10 men but easily saw the game out and put themselves into the hat for Monday’s 2nd Qualifying Round Draw.
Full time. Wingate & Finchley 1-2 Didcot Town
Gardner (M Woodley)
A Woodley (Humphries)
Subs not used, Crowther, Isaac, Young, Thomas, Alexis