First Team Beat Cadbury Heath
Wantage Progress In Vase
Wantage welcomed Cadbury Heath to Alfredian Park in the first round proper of the FA Vase. Wantage had a bit of a nightmare in terms of preparation before the game, goalkeeper Curtis Meare involved in an “accident” late on Friday evening, midfielder Ryan Markham struck down with a virus after his straight red against Bracknell on Tuesday and Mark Flanagan suffering a case of the half term head cold all teachers claim to get.
Meare and Markham missed the game, Flanagan pulled his socks up and played through the pain. It was left to left back Paul Alder to don the gloves and produce a man of the match performance.
Wantage started kicking towards the clubhouse with a very strong win behind them but didn’t use it to their advantage. Whilst they pinned Cadbury back in their own half, they didn’t use the ball properly or produce any quality thus not making it the challenge it should have been. Cadbury produce some smart football at times, keeping the ball on the floor as they had to, without really testing Alder in the Wantage goal. Wantage took the lead on 27 minutes, a free kick awarded about 30 years and to the right of goal was whipped in left footed by Flanagan, it took a slight deflection off the head of a Heath player and nestled in the side netting. The game returned to a bit of stalemate for the last 15 minutes of the half and neither side threatened.
Heath started the 2nd half positively with the wind in their sails. Wantage were forced into an early change, Jack Powell returning to replace the injured Dan Gardner. Powell’s first contribution wasn’t his best, the referee awarding a penalty on 62 minutes for something of an innocuous challenge on the corner of the Wantage box. Heath’s Sacha Tong powered down the middle as Alder guessed to his right.
Heath then piled on the pressure with Wantage having no response, some good saves from Alder kept them at bay for a short but while it was no surprise when substitute Simon Mc Elroy fired home from 10 yards after a scramble in the box five minutes later.
Wantage looked shell shocked and didn’t look like they knew how they were going to get back into the game. Mark Threllfall made way for assistant Joe Wood in the middle of the park with 20 remaining, Wood sitting on top of the centre halves allowing the full backs to squeeze on.
Wantage found an equaliser on 83 minutes after a good move through the middle, culminating in Steve Robertson nodding the ball on to Jim Glover who slammed home past the helpless keeper Dan Worton. The wind had died down somewhat and Wantage were now on the front foot. They took the lead on 87 minutes through some route one football, an Alder goal kick flicked on to Jack Dunmall who controlled, picked his head up and threaded a great through ball to Powell. Powell took the ball in his stride and travelled 30 yards before slotting under the keeper.
With just minutes left Wantage looked to shut up shop. Heath earned a corner and the ball dropped in the 6 yard box, Wood challenged the centre forward winning the ball but much to the consternation of everyone in the ground the referee pointed to the spot. Despite much dispute, the 90th minute penalty was awarded and Heath’s Tong fired in the left hand corner, giving Alder no chance.
It looked like the game was heading into extra time but Powell had other ideas four minutes into stoppage time. Picking the ball up wide left he beat a couple before firing a shot across the keeper, Worton could only parry back into the 6 yard box where a gleeful Robertson was on hand to side foot home. Wantage managed to hang on this time, seeing out the remaining few minutes with no alarm.
The weather certainly affected the game of football, but Wantage showed good resolve to dig themselves out of trouble. The season continues at Thatcham Town in the cup Tuesday night, with the squad already stretched with injuries and suspensions the management need to use all their contacts to ensure a competitive side is fielded.
The 2nd round of the Vase has now been drawn with Wantage again facing ToolStation (Western) League opponents, this time in the form of Melksham Town, currently lying 5th in comparison to Cadbury Heath in 17th.
Wantage: Paul Alder, Dan Comer, Mark Flanagan, Mark Threlfall (Joe Wood 70), Chris Jackson, Brad Cox, Dan Gardner (Jack Powell 54), Jim Glover, Steve Robertson (Jack Heap 95), Jack Dunmall, Nick Thorne. Subs n/u: Dec O’Hanlon, Curtis Meare.