First Team - Report
GATE STRUGGLE WITH TWO WELLIES OFF
Despite playing against 9 men for the last 10 minutes Gate failed to make their numerical advantage count and must now attempt to win in Herefordshire
Dan Dineen’s 80th minute equaliser saved Highgate from the ignominy of going out to lower league opposition in this at times tetchy FA Cup encounter but manager Keith Checketts will have been disappointed that his team failed finish off visitors who ended the game with nine men, at the first time of asking.
Wellington though put up stubborn resistance against what on the day was a poor home side which despite enjoying more of the overall possession failed to create the necessary chances to avoid the long mid week trip into Herefordshire for the unexpected replay. With a virtually full squad from which to choose Highgate’s boss was able to start with the same eleven which had lost at Stratford in mid week, Dave Timmins and Steve Jackson having failed to recover from what is hoped are short term injuries, but was able to welcome back from holiday Jake Brown and Jamie Corrigan, who both started on a seven man bench.
Bad news though was that the unfortunate Karl King incurred a one match ban and a fine for mistakenly being sent off for an alleged hand ball offence in that Tuesday evening defeat. Wellington came to the Coppice as very much an unknown number this being Highgate’s first ever encounter with the West Midlands (Regional) League outfit, and it was they who created the first chance when front runner Saul Thomas hit a low attempt wide of Shaun Edwards’ goal.
Elroy Bennett and King had both failed to test Craig Hill in the visitors’ goal during the opening skirmishes, King then breaking away but hesitating too long to enable defender Will Burley to sneak the ball away and deny what was so far the hosts best opportunity of the opening quarter of an hour. The Herefordshire side were clearly in no mood to roll over as underdogs, Peter Woods despatching a dipping twenty five yard effort a foot high of Edwards’ goal, Edwards then having to be alert to palm a difficult through ball away from the threatening Thomas, the strong pacey striker proving to be a constant thorn in the home defence.
Toby Checketts, playing in an unfamiliar midfield role, was inches wide with a far post header off a Dan Dineen cross and King’s thirty yard daisy cutter grazed the outside off the woodwork. However despite this period of late pressure Gate went in at half time having failed to breach a determined Wellington back line.
HT: Highgate United 0 v 0 Wellington
Immediately after the break King was again close from long range, Hill then seeing serious action for the first time when tipping away for a corner Dineen’s free kick from wide on the left which looked destined to nestle in the top corner.
Tom Reynolds and Simon Bradbury were both called into action to block volleys from Thomas, but it was the hosts who went close to taking a sixtieth minute lead when Hill misjudged Jamie Corrigan’s ball over the top relying on his captain Steve Brotherhood to scurry back and clear on the line, fellow centre back Nick Williams then getting in the way of Jake Brown’s near post flick to make it two crucial clearances in quick succession.
DJ Pitt was unlucky with a ten yard lob which sailed inches too high but with twenty five minutes remaining Gate were to be caught on the break, substitute Matt Williams hitting a low cross over the face of Edwards’ goal the ball then finding its way out to Woods who ran in to beat the keeper with a low fifteen yard strike. Thomas received a 70th minute straight red card for an off the ball incident with Reynolds but despite pushing Ahmed Nwimba and Liam Florey forward into more attacking roles Gate struggled to make the most of the man advantage, although Hill was twice forced to punch high up and unders to safety under pressure from the now desperate Highgate front runners.
Hill was finally beaten ten minutes from the end but there was nothing the keeper could have done to keep out Dineen’s left foot twenty yard volley delivered off Checketts’ pass. It appeared to be a case of mistaken identity when Josh James became the second Wellington player sent off for allegedly picking up two yellow cards, but again Gate were unable to make the most of the situation despite late attempts from Dineen and Jake Brown being near to sending their side into the next round.
Edwards; Nwimba; Dineen; T.Checketts; Reynolds; Bradbury; Kitching (Corrigan 52); King; Bennett (Brown 45); DJ Pitt; Florey Substitutes not used: Fraher; C.Checketts; Ryan; Casey; Timmins
Craig Hill; Tom Horsfield; Nick Williams; Josh James; Will Burley; Nick Panniers; Steve Brotherwood (c); Gareth George; Saul Thomas; Peter Wood; Ben Fisher Substitutes: Matt Williams; Sam Archer-Plane; Jamie Yau; Mark Priday