Hebburn Town 2-1 Shepshed Dynamo
Dynamo stung by Hornets in FA Vase
By Lucas Monk
Shepshed Dynamo saw their FA Vase journey end in defeat away to Hebburn Town on a gelid Saturday afternoon on Tyneside.
Shepshed had led thanks to Joe Pheasant's header. But goals from Michael Richardson and Luke Sullivan proved enough for the much-fancied Hornets.
Damion Beckford-Quailey made two changes to the team that defeated Wolverhampton Sporting Community last time out. Pheasant and Jordan Wakeling replaced Luke Day and Sean Phillips.
Dynamo, fresh from back-to-back league victories, made a bright start to the contest.
With 10 minutes played, they won a free kick on the right. Liam Hurst played the ball short to Pearson Mwanyongo. And the latter shifted the ball on to his left foot and curled a wicked shot an inch wide of the far corner.
Hurst and Mwanyongo combined again moments later. Their excellent exchange of passes released Hurst down the right. He crossed low for Matt Melbourne, but Hebburn 'keeper Andrew Jennison dived low and saved well.
Hebburn were not living up to their fulsome reputation of 3/1 favourites. And they had further cause for ire when an injury forced off defender Matthew Tumilty in the 14th minute. Dan Smith replaced him.
Town had respite shortly thereafter when they won a corner that Graeme Armstrong headed over the bar, but they were soon behind.
Pheasant rose highest to meet Hurst’s corner. And he powered a downward header into the net to give Shepshed a deserved lead on 35 minutes.
Dynamo then had a gilt-edged chance to double their advantage six minutes later. The referee pointed to the spot after Sam Moore went down under pressure in the box.
Karl Whymark assumed the responsibility for taking the penalty. But his well-struck attempt grazed the crossbar and bounced over the net. This awoke the hitherto slumberous home fans and stirred Hebburn into life.
The groggy Town supporters, still rubbing their eyes, were soon raucous multitudes. Sure enough, their team levelled on the stroke of half-time.
Shepshed were caught napping as they failed to clear their lines from a Hebburn foray forward. The ball fell to Richardson, who struck a sumptuous shot low into the bottom corner in first half stoppage time. Beckford-Quailey's men traipsed off the field without a lead their play merited.
There are few absolutes in football. One of them is that old perennial. That a team must take its chances when it is enjoying much the better of a match. There was a feeling amongst those who had made the arduous journey from Leicestershire that this one would again ring true and sting Dynamo.
It did. The Hornets had the lead seven minutes into the second half.
A low corner found its way to Richardson and his shot took a deflection off Sullivan. And the ball squirmed through a melee of bodies and creeped into the net. And Shepshed were now dejected, desolate, and destined to crash out of the cup unless they found another goal. Their journey was coming to an end.
They did not stop believing, though. Mwanyongo slipped in Moore with a slide rule pass, but a determined block met the latter's shot. Moore then lashed a wild effort over the bar after a Hebburn head half cleared a Hurst free kick.
In stark contrast to the first period, Dynamo chances were far from profuse. Hebburn limited them to ambitious efforts from improbable angles.
But then, as a blanket of evening darkness was thrown over all, there was a chink of light for the visitors. Albeit a rather crude and unsightly light. A red card. On 73 minutes. Substitute Smith receiving it for a disgusting challenge on Niall Prenderville.
Yet clear-cut chances continued to elude Shepshed. The closest they came to an equaliser was when Mwanyongo smashed the ball high and wide in added time. Town defended well and with grit and determination, and eked out the victory.
Loud cheers greeted the full-time whistle. Hebburn were through to the last 16 and their players and supporters delighted.
But Dynamo were down and out and disconsolate. Their wonderful travelling supporters applauded them off the field. Sang to them proud songs of praise. Let them know of their gratitude for a memorable cup run that included some great moments.
It was a rather plaintive scene, but at the same time an uplifting one. A vivid reminder of what football should be about. A club and its players and its fans as one unified collective. A solid whole, and not some wretched and unstable compound with individual bits fizzing and flying off in every direction.
Shepshed can be proud of their efforts. They held their own against heavily-fancied opponents. They perhaps deserved better than the eventual outcome. They did lose their way a little after Whymark's penalty miss. But not one player, himself included, disgraced themselves.
But they cannot afford to dwell on this defeat. A local derby against Loughborough University on Tuesday evening awaits. The chance to seize three important points and bragging rights is one Dynamo will be keen to take.
Dynamo: Ganley, Wakeling, Pheasant, Betts, Acott (Patrocinio 85'), Mwanyongo, Hurst, Whymark (Roome 81'), Prenderville, Moore (Thomas 75'), Melbourne.
Unused substitutes: Phillips, Day.
Hebburn: Jennison, Read, Storey, Tumilty (Smith 14’), Donaghy, Richardson, Spence, Armstrong (Chow 89’), Sullivan, Dibb-Fuller (Robson 81’).
Unused substitutes: Smith, Malley, Hubery.