22nd Oct, 2016

Disappointing United exit FA Cup

Liam Moakes 7th Sep, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM United’s FA Cup ambitions were ended at the first qualifying round stage as they were beaten 2-0 in Tuesday’s replay at Barwell.

The sides had battled out a 2-2 draw at the Jubilee Stadium on Saturday but the Robins were well below par in the replay against their higher ranked Northern League Premier Division hosts, who clinched the £3,000 prize-money on offer.

The Leicestershire side will now host Ilkeston in the second qualifying round after a comfortable victory at Kirkby Road, where they produced a vastly improved performance to that of three days earlier.

In the first half especially, United’s defensive back three were constantly stretched by the pace of Joel Bell and Tyrell Shannon-Lewis and rode their luck at times to still be in the game at just 1-0 down at half time.

Things improved slightly in the second half but Max Smith-Varnam in the Canaries goal did not have a direct shot to save during the 90 minutes, which was bitterly disappointing for another good Robins following.

The home side went ahead after a period of pressure through Brady Hickey’s 32nd-minute penalty after Bell had been sent tumbling by Will Wellon.

Paul Fahy went close with United’s first shot at goal on the hour mark but Barwell wrapped the tie up 11 minutes from time when substitute Reece Mitchell fired home past Kevin Sawyer.

On Saturday, despite enjoying most of the play, United looked to be heading out on home soil when they trailed 2-0 at the interval.

However, the introduction of substitutes Lance Smith and Leon Jeanne early in the second half transformed United’s fortunes and in the end they were unfortunate not to win the tie at the first attempt.

As early as the third minute United were denied an opening goal when Matt Sysum’s header was cleared off the line by Owen Story.

This set the tone for the rest of the half, with Barwell on the back foot and relying on the counter-attack.

Lewis Binns and Adam Mann went close and Canaries keeper Max Smith-Varnam made important stops to keep out Elliot Kennedy and Fahy.

However, against the run of play Barwell silenced the home crowd by taking the lead in somewhat controversial circumstances. Linden Dovey clearly played the ball in attempting to tackle Amarvir Sandhu in the box but referee Mr Gould thought otherwise and awarded a penalty which Hickey duly converted.

Good work by Binns ended with Mann pulling his shot wide but in first half stoppage time the game looked to be going Barwell’s way as Story burst into the United box and placed a low drive past Sawyer to make it 2-0.

At the start of the second half the unmarked Mann was unable to get a touch on Bradley Williams’ delivery across the face of goal before Smith and Jeanne were introduced by boss Paul Collicutt.

Jeanne made an immediate impact by forcing Smith-Varnam to make a smart save to his left before the United pressure finally paid off in the 66th minute when Smith sent a header towards goal that was sliced into his own net by Story to make it 2-1.

Barwell then shot themselves in the foot by having Sandhu sent off for a second yellow card for diving, leaving the visitors to play the remaining 13 minutes with ten men.

Four minutes after Sandhu’s departure, United deservedly levelled courtesy of Smith’s close range finish after a terrific run by Jeanne.

This set-up a frantic finish in which Smith-Varnam got down well to save from substitute Sam Pearson and then Jeanne drove agonisingly wide.

In added time, United rattled up a host of corners and Smith had his shot blocked in front of goal, but the Barwell defence somehow held out to force a replay.

The Robins continue their Southern League Division One South & West campaign at home to AFC Totton on Saturday. Collicutt’s side sit 13th with eight points from six matches.