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TOWN travelled to Southampton for this FA Vase tie without Gary Higdon on holiday, whilst Matthew Sharp was ruled out through injury. Returning to the side after spells at Bradford Town and Westbury Utd was central defender Matt Cooper.
The game itself saw Town take the lead twice, only to concede a second equaliser in what can only be described as ‘Fergie’ time. Six additional minutes had elapsed. There had been no major hold up in play so quite where the referee got an extra six minutes from plus the further two he played thereafter, only he knows. In extra time Folland Sports proved the stronger side as they added two more goals to run out 4-2 winners.
A bitter disappointment for Town then. The game had started brightly for them as they dominated the opening stages. Their domination culminated in them taking a 11th minute lead. Danny Griffiths played a free kick from the wide right to the far post where Dan Kovacs headed across goal for Tom Stocks to head past keeper Ryan Gosney. Prior to that, Town had chances to take the lead. Dan Kovacs was denied by a great save by the keeper, although he should have scored, and then he mishit an effort when well placed. As the half wore on, the home side came more into the game as Town struggled in midfield but Town’s defence held firm, with Matt Cooper a towering presence all afternoon, and skipper Dave Thompson also a pillar of reliability. Town had a scare when it took three attempts to clear a corner. At the other end Will Stead powered a 20 yard shot just over the crossbar. Half-time was reached with Tom Drewitt in Town’s goal not having a shot to save.
Early 2nd half pressure from the home side saw Matt Graham firing over the bar. Town countered, and Dan Griffiths headed over from Tom Stocks’s cross. Folland Sports introduced substitute Cory Curtis into the action and with his first touch he headed home the equaliser after 71 minutes. Town brought on Dave Macey and then Stuart Greener for Dan Griffiths and Tom Robinson. After 78 minutes they regained the lead when Sean Benison’s precise through ball found Dan Kovacs who slotted the ball past Ryan Gosney. Stunned by this, Folland Sports applied immediate pressure. Tom Drewitt made a fine save to tip over a close range header. Josh Robinson came on for Town replacing Tom Stocks as the game moved towards the 90 minutes clock. Added time came and with Town awaiting the final whistle as it went on and on, they had a throw in down by the opposition’s corner flag. They committed the cardinal sin of a foul throw. Folland Sports took the throw and the ball was then launched forward and found Ryan Long who took advantage of Town’s failure to defend the situation, and fired home the equaliser.
Extra time saw an early chance for Town falling to Sean Benison but he failed to capitalise on it. The home side had a free kick on 97 minutes blocked by Town’s wall, followed by Stuart Greener heading the ball away following a dangerous looking corner. Town were now under pressure as their lack of fitness showed as extra time progressed. Folland Sports took the lead after 100 minutes. Keeper Ryan Gosney’s long kick forward found Ryan Long wide out on the left. He left Nathan Flower trailing in his wake, crossed and Jamie Barron fired an unstoppable shot past Tom Drewitt.
Folland Sports added a fourth after 115 minutes when Jamie Barron broke clear to fire home, to make it 4-2, as Town were chasing an equaliser. So near, yet so far for Town, who at the very least deserved to bring the opposition back to The ‘Conigre’ for a replay.