Blues’ valiant efforts come up short
Two goals down inside the first eight minutes and reduced to ten men only six minutes later, the Blues out-performed their Southern League opponents for the remainder of the game but were not quite able to pull off a draw that would have forced a replay a
The opening minutes could hardly have gone any worse for the Blues.
A free-kick conceded in the 5th minute was launched into the Blues’ box and when it fell loose in the six-yard area it was prodded home by Adam Learoyd, who was clearly in an off-side position. The referee decided to consult his assistant and, after a lengthy discussion, he decided that the ball had last come off a Blue head and that the goal should stand.
Clearly unsettled by this decision the Blues were hit by a poor second goal only three minutes later. A ball up the right was crossed into the box and nudged home at the near post by Brett Gardner.
Matters got considerably worse when Blues midfielder Keiran McCaffrey picked up two yellow cards in the 11th and 13th minutes for what were seen as excessively strong tackles – and the Blues were reduced to ten men!
On a poor surface and in almost gale-force conditions it would have been understandable if the Blues had folded in the face of such circumstances. However, urged on by their loyal band of travelling supporters, the Blues lifted their heads and, for the remainder of the game, they were arguably the better side.
Elliott Bailey was a lively up front and twice went close to reducing the deficit; in the 19th and 25th minutes. He firstly chipped narrowly over the ball and he then brought out a good save from the keeper after Joe Clemo and George Lutaaya had combined well down the right flank.
On the half-hour Charlie Ruff went close with a 30-yard free-kick and on the stroke of half-time, David Keenleyside was denied by a very good save at the expense of a corner.
For the second half, manager Gavin Kelsey decided to go with three at the back in search of goals and he was very nearly rewarded when a cleverly worked free kick set up Ollie Sharman for a good chance. Unfortunately, though, the keeper made another good save to retain Didcot’s two-goal advantage.
A goal wasn’t long in coming, though, and in the 66th minute Elliott Bailey notched his fourth goal in three starts when he stole into the box to head home from close range.
The rest of the tie saw the hosts firmly on the back foot but, try as they might, the Blues were unable to find that all-important equaliser. Bizarrely, the Blues might have conceded what would have been a very harsh third when the referee awarded a penalty against them for what many saw as a blatant dive. Justice was probably done, however, when the ball was blasted wide from the resulting kick.
Once again the Blues had put in a decent performance without getting any just reward for it. They are clearly conceding too many goals and once they put that right, the results will surely come.
Team:, Lamar Johnson, Joe Clemo ( Lewis Thomas 46’), Macauley Joynes (Ruben Suarez-Junior 75’), Keiran McCaffrey, Ben Crilley, Ollie Sharman, David Keenleyside, Jordan Lawal, Elliott Bailey, Charlie Ruff (Matt Thomson 84’) and George Lutaaya.
Subs not used: Ahmed Mohammed and Charlie Mann.