IRLAM FC moved into the Preliminary round of the FA Cup at the weekend with a 3-2 victory on the road, defeating Bet Victor North.SE League leaders Stocksbridge Park FC.
Goals from Jordan Southworth, Marcus Perry and Jordan Buckley gave Irlam’s front three a goal apiece on a red hot afternoon in South Yorkshire.
Southworth, having served notice on the Stocksbridge goal inside a minute, a decent strike over the bar, would get the opener just minutes later. Irlam skipper Charlie Doyle would win possession in midfield before driving forward to find Perry down the right, the Irlam winger whipping his cross in to find Southworth who smashed home the opener from the edge of the area to make it 1-0. Worse was to follow for the Steels when, just two minutes later, Perry would pounce, the Irlam winger running through the Stocksbridge defence unchallenged before firing past a stranded Carney in the Stocksbridge goal to make it 2-0 with the game hardly started.
The home side would force their way back into the game slowly but surely, and a drinks break on 22 minutes was followed by a decent chance as Stocksbridge no4 Ludlam flashed a header just wide.
Buckley was working hard up top for Irlam, but was certainly the home side’s focus of attention, the Irlam striker crowded out on a number of occasions before getting a low drive off from 25 yards that failed to trouble the keeper. The last action of the half came from Southworth, the Irlam no11 so close as he cut inside his marker to whip a curling shot that eventually would rise over the Stocksbridge goal as the teams went in for the HT break.
HT: Stocksbridge 0 IRLAM FC 2
A reaction from the home side was expected after the break, and it would come as the Stocksbridge looked to make up for lost time. In the midfield Irlam skipper Charlie Doyle’s dominance was beginning to grow, but he could do nothing to prevent the home side’s breakthrough on 52 minutes.
Stocksbridge wide man Lewis Whitham received the ball down the left, and despite Irlam believing the danger was not that great, Whitham would shift the ball inside for a sublime curling shot that nestled into Irlam’s top corner with Irlam keeper Lee White at full stretch, giving the young winger the goal of the game.
In the heat of the afternoon, the home side began to grow in confidence, with Irlam’s players working overtime to close down the space where possible, the players displaying great character with temps pitch side that must have been 85 degrees.
On 65 minutes Stocksbridge would get their reward, a free kick whipped into the Irlam area was not dealt with, giving 17 year old substitute Brandon Whitfield a day to remember as he took two touches in the box before coolly slotting home the equaliser, 2-2 and game on.
With just over twenty minutes remaining, the momentum was with the home side, but as Stockbridge pushed high up the pitch in search of the winner, they would let their guard down momentarily. It would prove to be just enough.
A ball out wide to the left found Southworth in the vacated space down the left, the Irlam no11 with time to whip an inch perfect cross onto the head of Buckley, the Irlam striker pin sharp as he looped a header over Carney in the home goal, the young keeper again with no chance as IRLAM regained the lead in fine style. Although still 20 minutes to go, the goal seemed to kill the game dead. Stocksbridge would continue to press, but balls long and into the channels for the remainder of the game, mainly down the left were dealt with well by Dulson at Full back.
On the final whistle, a tight affair, and certainly a game of two halves would ultimately be settled by Buckley, the Irlam forward kept at bay for most of the afternoon, but crucially, not all of the afternoon.
FT Stocksbridge Park FC 2 IRLAM FC 2
(Picture shows Marcus Perry celebrating Irlam's 2nd goal)
Photo courtesy of NonLeague North