FA Vase Fifth Round
Team Solent 2
(Jim Orvis, Pip Nolan)
(Alex Nicholson, OG (Ellis White), David Foley, Carl Finnigan, Julio Arca)
Test Park again (I can already hear the groans from the readers), apologies about the magnetic force in SO16 that keeps me from ticking off a few new grounds and pulling me back to Test Park.
But today was different, Solent were facing South Shields, who were making the 660 mile round trip to face the students. It is, for a fact, Solent’s biggest game to date, the fifth round of the FA Vase, three games away from a trip to Wembley.
The reason that I hadn’t made it to any of Solent’s previous games in the early rounds is purely that the FA Vase weekends fall on the FA Cup weekends and I still have my cup run to maintain, leading me to a double header in Southampton today.
Providing the Solent game was decided in 90 minutes with no extra time, it should give me approximately 40 minutes to head just five miles down the road for Saints’ FA Cup fourth round tie with Arsenal. I knew I was cutting it fine but didn’t want to miss either game!
As game number one came to a close at 4-2, Julio Arca’s 40 yard chip was one of the best goals I have seen to make it 5-2 and it meant I had just enough time to get into the city centre and get in my seat for Saints.
Team Solent crashed out of the FA Vase in front of a record Test Park crowd with a heavy fifth round defeat to Northern League Division One high-flyers South Shields.
Solent talisman Jesse Waller-Lassen missed a penalty on the stroke of half time, which would have given his side a 2-1 lead heading into the break.
But Shields scored twice in a three minute spell in the second half to put the game to bed.
As the game entered the final 30 seconds, there was still time for a moment of pure class from former Middlesbrough and Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca who chipped ‘keeper Bradley Banda from 40 yards to end the game.
Shields, who were playing in front of over 400 travelling fans, were the stronger of the two sides in the opening exchanges. Despite the Mariners starting well, Adeoye Olumuyiwa forced a good save from visiting ‘keeper Liam Connell after advancing down the right flank.
Former Hartlepool United forward forced a good save from Banda before Ellis White cleared the danger.
Solent were lucky to hold on again and had Curtis Thorn to thank for a last ditch challenge to deny Foley what looked to be a simple tap. From the following corner, full back Alex Nicholson played it short to Gavin Cogdon who returned it to Nicholson to strike low into the corner of the net for the games first goal on 18 minutes.
Waller-Lassen went close to pulling the scores level as Connell had to be on his toes to tip over a curling free kick.
The Sparks did find the equaliser on 27 minutes when left back Thorn cut inside on his stronger right foot and played a ball into Orvis who had beaten the offside trap to finish off a good move for the home side.
Banda, who was returning to the side after nearly a month off with illness was on hand to get low into the corner to deny Robert Briggs from scoring from the edge of the box.
Tobi Adekunle missed a great chance to put Solent into the lead when Waller-Lassen played a low ball into the box and the number 11 swung at it and it sailed wide of the post.
Adekunle made sure his next chance was on target when he fired a shot at goal that Connell was only able to parry away before Tyrell Mitford made a mess of the rebound.
In first half stoppage time, Wayne Phillips hauled over Olumuyiwa in the box after some good interplay with Waller-Lassen and the hosts were awarded a penalty.
Former Tottenham trainee Waller-Lassen stepped up but planted his spot-kick against the foot of the post to leave the scores all square at the break.
Shields came out for the second half showing why they were riding high in the league and Phillips sent a curling shot just over the bar.
The visitors found themselves in the lead again on 53 minutes when Craig Baxter played a neat pass into Foley who fired the ball into the box and Ellis White diverted it into his own net.
Three minutes later, Foley scored himself when Jemal Wiseman was tackled on halfway and Foley showed good pace to get away from White, collect the lofted pass and slot underneath the advancing Banda.
On the hour mark, Shields boss Graham Fenton replaced Cogdon with Carl Finnigan who missed a great chance to score after Briggs had seen his long range chip come back off the bar to the substitute who put the ball high of the mark.
Solent made a double change bringing on Silvano Obeng and Lewis Pitts in a come back attempt with the pair replacing Mitford and Ryan Dacres-Smith.
The Sparks managed to pull a goal back on 78 minutes when defender Pip Nolan tapped in from one yard at the back post to revive the hope of a late come back. Waller-Lassen had sent a searching free kick into the box and Thorn fired back into the mix for Nolan to tap home.
Solent were buoyed by the second goal and were agonisingly close to pulling the scored level when Pitts fired a header straight at Connell after he was left unmarked inside the box.
With less than ten minutes to go, Thorn was replaced with winger Matt Sheedy as James Taylor went with three at the back if Solent had any chance of scoring a third.
The game was well and truly put to bed late on when Finnigan scored the Mariners fourth of the day from inside the six yard box from Foley’s low cross.
Shields had all but secured their place in the last eight before Arca won the ball just on the half way line before taking a couple of steps before unleashing a long 40 yard lob which caught Banda off guard and settled into the bottom of the net sending the travelling fans into pandemonium behind the goal.
2016/17 Games: 83
2016/17 Grounds: 49 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 150 (40)