Saturday, March 8, 2014
A first-half strike from Sholing’s Lee Wort helped the Boatmen sink Wisbech’s dreams of reaching Wembley.
In a tense and tight affair, the electric frontman buried the game’s best chance to send the Southampton-based outfit into the semi-finals and end the Fenmen’s hopes of progressing in the FA Vase.
Ashley Jarvis played the 22-year-old in around the half-hour mark as he capitalised on a high defensive line. In the foot race it offered to reach the ball with Paul Cousins, 31, there was only going to be one winner. Wort streaked free and rounded keeper Carl Mackney to bag the only goal of the huge quarter-final clash.
The visitors will head back to Cambridgeshire citing bad luck as the main reason for their exit with talented midfielder Callum Reed crashing efforts against the post and the bar in either half.
But despite all of their territorial domination, effort and fine build-up play, especially in the second period, Wisbech failed to create a genuine clear-cut opportunity all afternoon.
As a result, the defensively-sound Sholing can look forward to a two-legged semi-final while the brave Fenmen must endure the heartbreak of a last-eight exit.
The Fenlanders had already enjoyed success on the road four times during their fine cup run this season and hoped to enjoy more glory at the Silverlake Arena. But Dave Diaper’s troops looked, on paper, to be the toughest test yet.
The south coast outfit haven’t lost at home this season, are one point off the top of the Wessex Premier Division with eight games in hand, and are among the favourites to win non-league’s second biggest competition.
Wisbech joint-boss Dick Creasey made two changes from his side that won at Hadleigh United in the fifth round. One was enforced, with Reed coming in for Vase hero Tom James who has moved to Australia since scoring the winner to set up this afternoon’s tie. Matt Lunn was replaced out wide by Stuart Cobb.
Cheered on by a large travelling support, Town – in their changed colours of yellow and green – settled well.
Wort showed why he is seen as the Boatmen’s dangerman by fashioning the opening chances of the game.
He worked some space and tested Mackney before he really should have done better when he blazed over following Mike Carter’s superb ball into the channel.
At the other end, Reed pulled wide with his left foot as the visitors tried to get things going. Cobb then appealed for a penalty with his header appearing to strike the arm of Tyronne Bowers.
With lone frontman Tony Battersby feeding off scraps it was never going to be easy for Creasey’s charges to get up the pitch. Most of their best work was coming through Steven Reid and Reed.
It was a different story at the other end though as Sholing striker Wort was played in again, this time by Barry Mason who had brushed off Scott Johnson out wide. Luckily for the Fenmen, the number nine scuffed his shot and it trickled just pass the far post.
Adam Millson’s shot on the stretch at the other end suffered the same fate following a goalmouth scramble of sorts.
However, the next opportunity wasn’t wasted as the speedy Wort raced clear and skipped by Mackney to give himself the simplest of finishes.
The away team responded well from the set back and Danny White stung the palms of keeper Matt Brown with a cross-come-shot. And at the stroke of half-time he was beaten all ends up by Reed’s piledriver. But unfortunately for the wideman, and Wisbech, his terrific attempt from a narrow angle crashed back off the crossbar.
Prior to that Byron Mason had headed over a Marc Diaper corner to emphasise that there was little to separate the two sides - other than Wort’s opener. Both had created chances and enjoyed spells of possession.
It was much the same after the restart as Wisbech tried to keep their hopes of a showcase trip to London alive. A fine block from Lee Bright denied White a shot on target.
The United Counties League Premier Division club kept pushing with the tireless White hounding at every opportunity. Reid surged forward and saw his drive deflected wide.
The Boatmen waded deeper and deeper into their own waters as proceedings approached the hour mark. They still managed to mop up anything that spilled free in the danger zone mind.
A string of Wisbech corners ramped up the pressure. The south coast hosts offered little going forward until Carter jinked past two challenges and lifted over from distance. Byron Mason powered up the pitch yet miscued as he met the ball just inside the visitors’ penalty area.
Substitute Kieron Doherty lashed wide with 15 minutes left as the Fenmen desperately searched for a way back into the tie.
And had it not been for the woodwork, again, Reed would have found an equaliser as his rocket flew past Brown but struck the base of the post.
Wisbech needed to commit men forward and they had Mackney to thank for keeping them in the Vase when he foiled Wort with his legs. At 2-0, with 10 minutes left, it would have definitely been game over.
But despite his save, it wasn’t enough to inspire the Fenmen into finding an equaliser as Sholing stood firm and marched on into the last four.
Sholing (4-4-2): Brown, Carter, Diaper, Castle, Bright, Bowers, Barry Mason, Byron Mason, Wort, Jarvis (Sawyer, 62), McLean. Subs not used: Brewster, Miller, Cox, Webber. Booked: Diaper, Sawyer. Goal: Wort (29)
Wisbech (4-5-1): Mackney, Spafford, Cousins, Fairweather, Johnson, Millson (Lunn, 62), Reid, Reed, White, Cobb (Tricks, 87), Battersby (Doherty, 72). Booked: None.
Ref: P Rees