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 3 rd Qualifying Round Replay at Wealdstone’s
Grosvenor Vale ground and whilst the scoreline might look emphatic and
routine for the National League hosts, this epic cup-tie was everything but.
Farm, bouyed by their impressive performance at the weekend, started brightly
when a neat move found Jay Adams outside the area but he lost his footing
upon connection and could only scoop the ball into the vocal travelling support
behind home stopper Aston 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 chance was created and very almost buried by the
outstanding Stones 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 the Oxborough scrambling.
Wealdstone would grab the lead just before the break, recycling the ball just
after striker Ross Lafayette had hit the post once more, before he himself
supplied a terrific cross for winger Jacob Mendy to plant his header and settle
home side nerves. One nearly became two just before the interval as Lewis was
denied by not one but two outstanding pieces of goalkeeping from John before
Kingdon headed away a goalbound volley by 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 coolly rounded the advancing keeper
before tucking away. The home sides pressure didn’t let up as John somehow
produced another miraculous save – Clifford finding himself free in the box but
but being bravely denied by the Farm ‘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 than 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 disappointed 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
excellent current form on into Saturday’s FA Trophy tie away at Sholing and
further ahead to the league.
By JACK DAVIES and KEVIN O’DONOHOE