MATCH REPORT & VIDEO: FA Vase replay beckons after Wisbech Town draw with Dunston UTS
FA Vase Fourth Round: Wisbech Town 2 Dunston UTS 2 (AET)
WISBECH Town’s dream of reaching a Wembley FA Vase final is still alive after the Fenmen played out an enthralling 2-2 draw with Dunston UTS.
Steve Appleby’s side face a 400-mile round trip to Gateshead next Saturday after 120 minutes failed to separate two sides desperate for a place in the last 16.
Nick Davey’s 25th-minute goal gave Wisbech a half-time lead but second-half strikes from Andrew Bulford and Lee McAndrew looked to have ended the Fenmen’s dream.
However, Matt Lunn’s 83rd-minute equaliser ensured Appleby’s side forced a replay and kept their name in Monday’s draw.
In a game that ebbed and flowed, largely thanks to a fine display from referee Richard Kendall, it was the hosts who nearly took the lead within 20 seconds.
Chris Bacon’s vicious effort flew just over the bar as Wisbech - roared on by the vocal ‘red army’ behind the goal - flew out of the blocks.
- 1 Main road through Wisbech town centre shut after serious crash
- 2 Middlesbrough couple found in Cambs with drugs worth around £37,000
- 3 Can you answer these 10 GCSE questions designed for 16-year-olds?
- 4 Lorry breaks down on A47 near Wisbech
- 5 EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt ‘to work at restaurant in Cambridgeshire’
- 6 Family pay tribute to brothers, 13 and 17, killed in horror BMW crash
- 7 Princess Anne waves from Range Rover after landing in Wisbech
- 8 Eye burglar smashed doors with brick and stole jewellery and chocolate
- 9 Boys, 13 and 17 killed in horror BMW crash near A47 in Peterborough
- 10 ‘Sudden death’ reported at Nene and Ramnoth School in Wisbech
The Fenmen continued to dominate early proceedings with Bacon and his strike partner Davey linking up intelligently.
The pair’s non-stop running caused problems for Dunston’s defence who struggled to deal with the latter’s pace.
And it was Davey who gave Wisbech a deserved lead when he finished off a fine move in the 25th minute.
Classy midfielder Steven Reid surged forward, after Bacon’s quickly-taken free-kick, and drove at the heart of the visitors’ defence before slipping the ball out wide to Neal Spafford.
Spafford’s inch-perfect centre was rammed into the roof of the net by Davey - who scored for the fourth consecutive game.
The fired-up Fenmen were looking solid in defence with Reid - in possibly his best display in a Wisbech shirt - bossing the midfield.
Even a tactical reshuffle, after centre-back Stacy Cartwright was forced to leave the field with a broken nose, failed to upset the Fenmen’s rhythm.
Physical Dunston were still in the game, but were less impressive than many expected and deserved to be behind at the break.
They almost went 2-0 down when Bacon fizzed a free-kick just wide but grew into the game after equalising in the 51st minute.
Wisbech - who looked troubled every time Dunston delivered a set-piece into the box - failed to defend a free-kick and Bulford bundled home from close range.
Considering how well Wisbech had played - and defended - up to that point, it was certainly a soft goal to concede.
The northern visitors quickly realised that their best chance of grabbing a second would come from a set piece.
At every opportunity they piled men forward and pumped free-kicks into the danger zone.
Michael Dixon and Bulford got in each other’s way with Dunston’s goalscorer heading wide when he should have done better.
Veteran centre-back Chris Swailes headed wide when he was unmarked before another free-kick proved Wisbech’s downfall.
McAndrew’s in-swinging centre from the left evaded everyone, including Fenmen ‘keeper Ryan Rayner who should have done better, to send the travelling supporters into raptures.
Dunston were 15 minutes from victory - with poor defending from set pieces appearing to have ended Wisbech’s dreams.
However, wideman Matt Lunn came to life and ripped through the Dunston defence to equalise just seven minutes later.
Lunn’s trickery was genius, his finish emphatic, and as a result he seemed to grow in confidence.
Dixon still had time to head harmlessly wide from six yards when he made a mess of Dunston’s best chance of the game from another set-piece.
Lunn, now with his tail up, beat a couple of men and forced Jonathan Carmichael to make a smart save in the dying seconds but neither side could find a winner.
Ollie Gale came within a whisker of putting Wisbech in front when he struck a post just sixty seconds into extra-time.
But as nerves began to filter around the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium, chances began to dry up.
Even after Dixon was sent off, for a second bookable offence, Appleby’s side failed to work a clear opening to wrap the tie up.
The closest they came was when substitute Darren Jimson, seconds after coming on, controlled the ball with his chest before firing a left-footed half volley from 25 yards on the turn just wide.
Wisbech should take heart from their display against last season’s quarter finalists but they’ll certainly have to defend set pieces better next week if they want to keep their FA Vase dream alive.
FA VASE FOURTH ROUND RESULTS IN FULL
Whitley Bay 5 South Park 0
Tunbridge Wells 0 St Ives Town 1
Willand Rovers 1 Stavely MW 3
Shortwood United 1 Enfield 1893 0
Newcastle Benfield 1 Herne Bay 2
Bournemouth 2 Royston Town 1
Old Woodstock Town 0 Bethan Green United 2
Newport Pagnell Town 2 Ashington 3
Norton United 1 Peterborough Northern Star 2
Wisbech Town 2 Dunston UTS 2
Bitton AFC 1 West Auckland Town 3
Tividale 7 Binfield 1
Gresley 1 Three Bridges 1
Billingham Synthonia 0 Runcorn Town 0
Reading Town 2 Larkhall Athletic 3
Oadby Town 2 Ampthill Town 1
• Video provided by Wisbech Town website and programme editor Spenny Larham.