Match Report by John Gorman
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Hallen 1 – Whitchurch United 1
Whitchurch journeyed to the edge of the Bristol Channel for what, given the result and the fact that the two teams are due to also meet in the FA Vase, could be the start of a series. United were without skipper Adam Pearson, who had failed to recover from an injury sustained in the midweek victory over Romsey, and had Curtis Angell partnering Luke Walker up front against a Hallen side that had won their opening two matches of the season.
A HESITANT START
Hallen’s Captain earned a free kick after a powerful run but Tom Collett’s effort was high and wide and keeper Tom Hindmarsh did well to keep out a shot from Aysa Corrick after the home midfielder had been given too much room in the area.
Whitchurch found their feet after a hesitant start with home keeper Sam Burgess having to leave his area to deny Walker and the same player too high after good work by Alex Dockree and James Tennant. Angell found some space with clever footwork but the shot was too straight before a well timed challenge by Tom Pemberton stopped another of Corrick’s excursions into the area at the other end. Isaac Sedu’s speed was troubling full back Marcus Maggs, despite the short pitch which didn’t allow his speed to come into full play.
After Isaac had been brought down in full flight, earning the defender a caution, Burgess did well to block Tennant’s free kick with his feet as the ball flew through a crowded area. Hindmarsh saved a Greening header at the far post and the visiting defence somehow survived the scramble that ensued from the corner with Ben Bament eventually firing high over the bar.
Whitchurch then finished the half very much on the front foot with Ali Brown heading wide and Walker suffering the same fate after a neat passing movement before Alex Pickering arrived in the area to stab a Tennant cross just the wrong side of the post. The final effort, as the long promised rain started to arrive, saw Burgess tip a Dockree piledriver over the bar leaving the first forty five minutes equal and goalless.
PRESSURE AFTER THE BREAK
Hallen, perhaps inspired by some management speak at the break, were quicker into their stride on the re-start and, though both Tennant and Angell shot too high, play was largely confined to United’s half and Hallen gained reward for their pressure after just ten minutes. Whitchurch failed to fully clear a corner though there looked to be no danger as Ricky Charlton fastened on to the ball some 35 yards out, but in the manner of his more illustrious namesake he lashed the ball into the top corner of the net via Hindmarsh’s despairing fingertips.
Whitchurch survived another furious scramble following a corner with the ball being cleared off the line before Sedu relieved the pressure with a long run only to pull his shot across the face of goal. Walker and Dockree gave way to Lee Hamilton and Shane Lock as the visitors strived for the equaliser with Sedu too high and Burgess saving bravely at Locke’s feet.
A third change saw Ashley Ledger replace Tom Pemberton and as the rain intensified the substitution led to the equaliser that by now was fully deserved. The Jam Boys won a corner on the left, Chris Smalley jumped highest to nod the ball down and Ledger turned it into the net from close range with some fifteen minutes left to play. Neither defence looked particularly secure and Hindmarsh clawed away a header from Bament before Collett fired the ball into the top of the net only for the blue-shirted celebrations to be halted by the offside flag. Tennant was wide from an Angell free kick and both sides survived four minutes of stoppage time to leave the score all square and the tie heading for a replay on Tuesday.
A FAIR RESULT
A fair result from an enjoyable and evenly contested game with Whitchurch perhaps now the slight favourites to progress after Tuesday’s replay, if they can take advantage of the opportunities presented.
Many thanks to John Rutledge for forwarding the report.