Few who made their way into the Sir Tom Finney Stadium for last night’s replay would have predicted the drama ahead. A superb display of attacking football from the Owls, in particular from hat-trick hero Jon Oglesby, simply blew away Bamber Bridge to record Clee’s best FA Cup win.
Just the one change from Saturday’s original tie, with Oli Donald coming in for the suspended Tim Lowe. Manager Marcus Newell went with a 4-4-2 formation as follows:
Goal: Dylan Parkin
Defence: Sam Topliss, Oli Donald, Matt Bloomer, Paul Walker
Midfield: Jack Richardson, Craig Disley, Alex Flett (captain), Josh Batty
Attack: Scott Vernon, Brody Robertson
Subs: Mark Gray, Lewis Collins, Laurence McKay, Danny North, Luke Aldrich
It was fairly even in the opening 10 minutes, as Brig looked to impose their higher ranked status. Hyuga Turner went closest for the hosts with a shot that was confidently handled by keeper Parkin, whilst Donald headed wide for Clee from a free-kick.
All change on 13 minutes though, as the Owls grabbed the initiative. A flighted ball in was headed across the danger zone and Scott Vernon showed fine agility with a hooked finish. A great boost but better was to follow shortly afterwards.
Before the home defence could collect its thoughts, another swift break culminated with Jon Oglesby smashing the ball home from close range to double the advantage.
If the Evostik League Premier outfit thought they had done the hard work at New Linden, they were seriously mistaken. The dynamic play of the Owls looked as though it may result in goal at any stage, with a fierce Robertson drive requiring a good save by Lloyd Rigby.
The encounter swayed further in Clee’s favour after a nasty incident on the half hour mark. Paul Walker went for a header and, although he had dipped slightly, he was caught a sickening blow from the reckless high boot of Michael Potts. As the Brig man saw red, Walker climbed to his feet only to stagger slightly and collapse to the turf.
As a hush descended around the ground, medical staff from both Clubs rushed to the aid of the stricken defender. Thankfully, after a couple of minutes treatment, Walker was able to walk from the field unaided to receive further attention for a facial wound. McKay came on as his replacement.
With a man advantage, the Owls sensed that they were on the verge of creating history by moving into the Third Round Qualifying of the competition for the first time. To emphasise the fact, Jon Oglesby produced a contender for the goal of the season on 37 minutes.
Picking up the ball on the inside left around 25 yards out, the winger surged inside a challenge before curling an exquisite right-foot curler well beyond the reach of Rigby into the top corner. The travelling faithful in the Main Stand were directly behind the flight of the shot and leapt to their feet to celebrate a sensational first-half.
HT Bamber Bridge 0 Cleethorpes Town 3 (Vernon 13, Oglesby 16, 37)
If the opening 45 had been good, that was going to nothing on the second half. Some of the play would have graced any occasion, as the Owls dished out a real beating to the stunned home team.
Brig were still battling manfully to get any kind of foothold but any brief foray into Clee’s territory was quickly snuffed out by the dominance of Donald.
After Batty was booked, which will keep him out of the tie against Guiseley, any hopes of a comeback were ended by a beautiful team move. Quick interchanges once again carved open the Brig rearguard and Jon Oglesby was on hand to complete a deserved hat-trick.
At this stadium named after England’s finest outside left, it was fitting that man-of-the-match Oglesby had now become virtually unplayable. Time and again he drew his tormented marker before flying past. The winger went close to an incredible fourth with just under 20 to go, as his close-range shot cannoned away to safety from the crossbar.
Vernon and Batty were replaced by Aldrich and Collins respectively, as the Owls did not let the pace drop. Wave after wave of pressure was endured by Brig, who would have happily heard the final whistle.
Numerous chances were created and it was a surprise that the fifth did not come until the second minute of added time. Yet again, a quick team move made mincemeat of the beleaguered defence and it was Brody Robertson who completed the rout.
The referee took pity on Brig by blowing for time a few seconds early and, as they trooped off with their Cup dreams ended for another year, the Clee supporters gave a well-deserved standing ovation to the players.
FT Bamber Bridge 0 Cleethorpes Town 5 (Vernon 13, Oglesby 16, 37, 67, Robertson 90+2) Attendance: 315
It would be fair to say that nights like that do not come around too often! A marvellous display and the scoreline did not flatter us one bit. Surely it should be considered the second best victory in our 20-year history. Perhaps only the triumph over Bromsgrove Sporting, which took us to Wembley, could be placed higher.
No doubt that Jon Oglesby stole the show. I have not witnessed a better display on the wing for a long time. Other players to catch the eye were Oli Donald marshalling the defence and Scott Vernon leading the line. Very best wishes as well to Paul Walker for a speedy recovery – thanks to the Bamber Bridge physios for your valued assistance.
We have two important fixtures coming up and, whilst the next round of the FA Cup is looming large, I am now not going to mention the “G” word again until next Wednesday!!
Finally, it was long trip for midweek and, once again, great backing from the fans for the lads. Also, well played to Brig manager Neil Reynolds, who must have been crushingly disappointed, for saying “well done and good luck in the next round” to some of our supporters gathered around the tunnel at the end.
FA Trophy – Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 29th September – 3pm (if level after 90 minutes, replay on Tuesday 2nd October – 7.45pm)
Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s and 16-18) £4, Under 16s £2
UP THE OWLS!