FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Coventry United vs Stone Old Alleynians
Coventry made heavy weather of an FA Vase match against a Stone team that had clearly come with defence in mind. Two injury time goals turned the tie on its head and sealed United's progression to the 1st Round proper of the FA Vase in the most dramatic way.
The first half of the match was a drab affair with Stone giving the home team space to play, but packing out the last quarter of the pitch to nullify any attempts to play through them. Often playing with 10 men behind the ball, the tactics almost paid dividends just after the had hour mark. A long ball was flicked on to the Stone striker who unleashed a snap shot from 20 yards out that beat Morris before smashing against the crossbar.
There was little joy for the home team and it wasn't until just before half time that a Lewis Rankin cross found Josh O'Grady at the far post. His miss-hit shot ricocheted across the area, before Craig Reid crossed the ball back to O'Grady to finish only to find himself in an offside position.
Early in the 2nd half, the hardworking Aaron Opoku, weaved on the edge of the box to find some space before laying the ball off to Rob Prinzel who's shot was comfortably gathered by the Stone keeper. Moments later a long raking ball found Craig Read behind the visitors back line but once again the goal keeper stood firm to see the ball out for a corner.
Then the inevitable happened, on a rare Stone foray into the Coventry half a long ball was worked wide before delivery into the box, with little apparent danger their No.9 got the better of Jeff Woodward before blasting the ball into the far corner, leaving Morris little chance of a save.
As the match progressed Stone began playing for time in quite comical fashion, the assistant manager taking an age on a few occasions firstly to decide whether his player needed attention, secondly to find his bag and finally to make what could only be described as a slow funeral march onto the pitch, much to the derision of the home fans. It wasn't subtle and it caused further frustration for the red and greens.
Rankin cut in from the right, before squaring the ball to O'Grady who raked a good effort on goal from just outside of the box, the Stone keeper denying him with a dramatic save. As time was running out Coleman launched a trademark throw in deep into enemy lines, a towering header from Chris Cox flicked the ball on to Opoku who made no mistake in heading the ball home to continue his impressive scoring run since coming into the team for injured Mitch Piggon.
With injury time running on due to the antics of the Stone management, and extra time looming, an O'Grady corner was met full on by the impressive forehead of Jamie Coleman who was delighter to bullet his header home.
Although manager Terry Anderson will not have been happy with the performance, the result in the cup and the prospect of a good FA Vase run will be all that matters in the longer term.