Blues come out on top in tense Vase fightback
FA Vase – 1st Qualifying Round
Tuesday 20th September 2016
Hertford Town 2(0) Clapton 1(1)
(Taylor (pen) 62’, Light 70’)
The Blues fought back from conceding a fifth minute opener against a resilient Clapton team to capture a home tie in the next round of the FA Vase against Eastern Counties League side, Brantham Athletic.
Looking to put the weekend’s disappointing defeat behind the Blues, manager Gavin Kelsey made three changes to his side for this replayed tie with Essex Senior League club, Clapton. He brought in Dan Palmer, Matt Thomson and Lee Roberts – and they all played their part in a morale-boosting win.
The omens looked far from good, though, when, after an opening four minutes that saw the Blues create two chances, they conceded a poor goal from the visitors’ first venture forward. A free kick near the half-way line was cleared to the far corner of the penalty area but the opportunity to clear the ball was spurned and the ball was returned on to the edge of the six-yard box where it was headed home by an un-marked Jamie Lyndon.
This setback, so soon after a similar event in the previous game, understandably took ‘some of the wind out of the Blues’ sails and it needed a good save from Reece Buck only six minutes later to prevent the Blues falling further behind.
Confidence was quickly restored after that and for the remainder of the half it was the Blues that dominated possession although the visitors, with their pace up front, always appeared dangerous on the break. Mark Summers had a fierce volley blocked as it was heading goalwards and Adam Murad fired over the bar from twenty yards but an equaliser was not forthcoming and when the referee blew his whistle for half-time, the Blues were still trailing.
The second half belonged almost entirely to the Blues with pressure on the Clapton goal being applied from the very start. Sam Ruff had a free kick well saved in the opening minute and then had another shot deflected for a corner six minutes later. Three corners in succession followed, the last of which culminated in a header from Ollie Sharman being saved.
With almost an hour gone Ben Andreos picked up a pass from Adam Murad and brought out another save from the Clapton custodian with a 20-yard drive but a goal was clearly coming and when Ben was held while attempting to get onto the end of a Lee Roberts free-kick, the referee had no alternative but to award a penalty.
Ed Taylor’s cool conversion from the spot – sending the keeper the wrong way – duly levelled the scores and less than eight minutes later the Blues were in front for the first time in the tie. Sam Ruff released Adam Murad down the right flank and his ball across the box was met by Ricky Light and placed low into the goal from ten yards out.
Adam Murad almost added a third with a quarter of an hour remaining but, with a lot resting on the outcome of the game, the Blues were forced to play out a tense finale. In the closing minutes the Blues never seemed to be in danger of conceding an equaliser but in the fourth minute of time-added-on they heaved a sigh of relief when the visitors had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside. Reece Buck got a hand onto a cross-shot from the corner of the box and the loose ball was put into the back of the net by a Clapton player who had strayed into an offside position.
The Clapton celebrations were therefore short-lived and the final whistle, blown soon after, sealed their fate. The Blues will now entertain Essex-based Brantham Athletic in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the competition.
Team: Reece Buck, Ollie Sharman, Ed Taylor (Dan Ferrigno 80’), Sam Ruff, Glenn Draper, Dan Palmer, Adam Murad, Matt Thomson, Mark Summers, Ben Andreos (Tommy Wade 63’) and Lee Roberts (Ricky Light 67’).
Subs not used: Jack Bartlett & Phil Lowen.
Match Report by Ray Greenall