FIRST ROUND PROPER
Walsham-le-Willows 0 Hadleigh United 2
Walsham manager Paul Smith was left to reflect on what could have been after watching his side eliminated from the FA Vase first round.
In a hard-fought, rain-soaked encounter, the Willows finally succumbed in extra-time as substitute Matt Downing and Marcus Josiah struck a minute apart after 111 minutes to finally separate the two sides and secure their place in the second round.
It proved a hard pill to swallow for Smith who himself reached the 1988/89 final with Sudbury Town, in front of 26,487 fans at Wembley before losing to Tamworth in a replay at Peterborough United’s ground, but has urged his players to respond for the visit of Ely City tomorrow (3pm).
“Losing in the Vase is always disappointing, especially for me because I’ve had such success in the competition in the past,” he said.
“Unfortunately we just didn’t have enough about us on the night and they were probably the better side.
“It is now up to me to pick the boys up for Ely to make sure this doesn’t affect us too much.”
In an opening period of relatively few clear-cut chances, it was the visitors who went closest to breaking the deadlock after 24 minutes.
Scott Chaplin’s inswinging corner from the left was met by Kris Rose, whose deflected header was smartly tipped away by custodian Duncan McAnally.
Moments before the break, Walsham should have opened the scoring, but after racing into the opposition area, Ollie Hughes could only fire his left-foot shot over the bar.
The visitors started the second half with a renewed vigour and almost found the net immediately, calling McAnally into action to deny Chaplin smartly.
Another gilt-edged chance came and went for Hadleigh after 60 minutes, as Rose controlled Ashley Sloots’ corner from the right but lashed wildly over when well placed.
The home side responded with the final opportunity of regular time in the 75th minute, but again could not capitalise.
Hughes outpaced Oliver Brown on the right before cutting the ball back for Will Brown, who found Dan Heath in top form to keep out his low drive.
The first half of extra-time saw Hadleigh again go close with Josiah’s strike right-foot strike from inside the area somehow scrambled away by Matt Morton.
The resulting corner caused mayhem in the hosts’ area with Rose’s stabbed effort coming back off the post.
However, they were not be denied and with penalties looking certain, the visitors struck.
Chaplin released Shane Wardley down the left-hand side, and his drilled cross found Downing to slot home the opening goal.
Before Walsham could settle, Hadleigh added a second, Chaplin releasing Josiah to coolly round McAnally and roll the ball home to finally settle the encounter.
Walsham: McAnally, Sim (Smith 96), Cusack, Newman, Morton, Robinson (Musgrove 63), Hughes, Foster, Brame, Tatham (Brown 76), Agricole