Shortwood 3 Longlevens 5 – FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
By Harry Ash
Shortwood were ultimately unable to pull off an upset in the FA Vase against Hellenic Premier side Longlevens, despite taking a lead into half-time.
Wood settled nicely into their rhythm in the opening stages, and were rewarded less than five minutes in. A perfectly weighted long ball from Kieran Mace was raced onto by Brad Loveridge, who just beat keeper Matt Wieczorek to the ball on the edge of the area. Loveridge composed himself to measure a lobbed finish over Wieczorek and into the empty net.
Longlevens slowly started to assert themselves following that shock, and found an equaliser with just under twenty minutes played. In a passage of play that would repeatedly cause Wood problems, a long ball from Wieczorek was flicked on by Brad Martin, releasing Shiyak Sutherland in behind, who coolly rounded Billy Thomas before tucking the ball away.
The visitors took the lead fifteen minutes later, with Martin and Sutherland once again combining, before the latter fired a ball across the box which was crashed into the roof of the net by former Wood player Nathan Payne.
Shortwood still managed the occasional foray forward despite the general pressure applied by Longlevens. In particular smart combination play from the likes of Jordan Molyneux, Ryan Dobbins, Martin Smith and Dan Gayner threatened to get Wood in behind when possession was secured in the final third. This ambition was vindicated just before half time, as two quick fire goals gave the hosts a surprise lead going to the break.
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The equaliser came from a Fin Byrnes free kick whipped into the far post, where it was met on the volley by Joe Tryner, who turned it across goal for Dan Gayner to finish from close range.
In stoppage time, Gayner scored a second—this time from the penalty spot—after Jack Beardsall was adjudged to have handled in an aerial challenge with Tryner.
Shortwood really should have made it 4-2 just after the restart. A high ball was misjudged by Beardsall, which gave Dom Kent an unexpected one-on-one with Wieczorek, but Kent could only stab the awkwardly bouncing ball straight at the keeper.
That turned out to be Shortwood’s last chance of note, as Longlevens started to turn the screw. The equaliser came just past the hour mark, when Shaun O’Connor’s well struck shot was brilliantly saved by Thomas, but Sutherland reacted sharply to the rebound and scored his second of the game.
Longlevens made it 3-4 with just under twenty to play with a controversial piece of play. Sutherland looked to be well offside as he latched onto a ball in behind, but the assistant referee was unmoved as Sutherland squared to O’Connor for an easy finish.
The scoring was completed with an almost comically easy goal for Beardsall, who picked the ball up on the right around halfway, cut his way diagonally across the pitch and made no mistake when somehow he found himself one-on-one with Thomas, having negotiated Shortwood’s entire defence without a single direct engagement from a defender.
Despite the defeat, Shortwood should take some heart in their ability to compete—at least for a half—with a team a division higher, this in their first game since the departure of manager Dan Gillespie, too.
Shortwood: Thomas, Loveridge, Royer, Byrnes, Tryner, Mace K, Molyneux (Price 80), Kent Alex Gayner 69), Dobbins, Smith, Dan Gayner (Bowes 74)
Longlevens: Wieczorek, Beardsell, Parker, Long, Kavanagh, Aldridge, Williams, Finch, Payne, Martin, Sutherland
Subs: Price, Ranken, O’Connor, Mason, Callinan, Troke