Wealdstone 4 Bristol Manor Farm 0
So, Manor Farm’s record-equalling best ever FA Cup run finally came to a heroic end in Tuesday night’s 3rde Qualifying round Replay at wealdstone’s Grosvenor Vale ground and whilst the scoreline might look emphatic and routine for the National League South host’s, this epic cup-tie was everything but.
Farm bouyed by their impressive performance at the weekend, started brightly when a neat move forward found Jay Adams outside the Wealdstone area, but he lost his footing upon connection and could only scoop the ball into into the vocal travelling support behind home stopper Adam Oxborough’s goal. Wealdstone then gained a measure of control as Farm struggled to properly clear their lines and they almost gifted the home side a lead when Steve Kingdon’s outstretched interception beat his own keeper Ben John – the hero of the first leg and indeed in some parts this – but trickled just wide before a stunning last-gasp tackle by Josh Nelmes denied Dennon Lewis a sure fire opener.
The games first real was created and very nearly buried by the outstanding “Stone’s” midfielder Billy Clifford as he collected the ball just inside the box before spinning and leaving John standing with a shot that pinged off the far post and away to safety. Farm, always a threat on the break, created their first meaningful chance when, after forcing a corner with another effort on goal, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist collected the ball wide and bent his effort inches past the far post with Oxborough scrambling.
Wealdstone would grab the lead just before the break, recycling the ball just after striker Ross Lafayette had hit the post one more, before he himself supplied a terrific cross for winger Jacob Mendy to plant his header and settle home side nerves. One became two just before the interval as Lewis was denied by not one but two outstanding pieces of goalkeeping by John before Kingdon headed away a goalbound volley from Connor Smith.
Having scored 3 minutes before the end of the first half, “The Stones” would double their lead 3 minutes into the second as Clifford span before sliding a lovely ball through to Michael Etefe who cooly rounded the advancing keeper before tucking the ball away. The home sides pressure didn’t let up as John somehow produced another miraculous save – Clifford finding himself free in the box but being bravely denied by the Farm’s keeper’s reflexes at point blank range.
Wealdstone would eventually confirm their place in the next round as the ever – elusive Clifford manufactured space for himself before unleashing a curling effort that left Ben John with no chance.
Manor Farm would have the ball in the net just as their spirit deserved when substitute Lewis Bamford squared for Tyler Ashmead to tap home – only to be left dissapointed to see the assistant with his flag raised for offside. There was still time for the hosts to add some gloss to the scoreline when striker Lewis seized on a misplaced pass and rounded John for a fourth.
Worthy winners on the night, Wealdstone now progress to the final Qualifying Round of the competition for another stiff test at Maidenhead United.
For Manor Farm, despite the result and the end of another epic FA Cup adventure, Lee Lashenko, his players and the magnificently vocal “Farmy Army” of supporters returned back down the M4 with nothing but praises ringing, pride very much intact and certainly no regrets – the players all left everything and more out there on the pitch – looking forward to carrying their excellant current form on into Saturday’s FA Trophy tie away to Sholing and further ahead to the league.
Written by; Jack Davies & Kevin O’Donohoe