ISUZU FA TROPHY
SATURDAY 19TH NOVEMBER 2022
UXBRIDGE 1 DOVER ATHLETIC 1 (HT 0-1)
(Uxbridge win 4-2 on penalties)
Well, where do you start? Normally, when a side completes a giant killing, it’s achieved with a backs-to-the-wall defensive performance. Not this one. Everyone who witnessed the game said the better team won and how Uxbridge didn’t do that in normal time is a mystery. The Reds had seventeen attempts on goal (eight on target) compared to Dover’s seven (four on target) and this against a Whites side that showed just few changes from the sides that had recently represented them in the National League South. Three changes were made to the Reds side defeated by Leatherhead in the Pitching In Isthmian League the previous Tuesday. Harry Seabrook, Jordan Ireland and Scott Donnelly replacing Victor Osobu, Alex Witham and Gareth Chendlik. In fact, Uxbridge had five players in their starting eleven who have played less then eight games for the Club. Imagine what they could achieve once they get to know each other!
After a quiet opening it was the visitors who took the lead in the 11th minute. Lewis Patrick found himself outnumbered - Chike Kandi and Myles Judd combined - with the latter floating over a pinpoint cross for Alfie Pavey to power a close-range header in at the far-post. The Reds responded well with Joe Jackson winning the ball and sending Dan Williams away towards goal. Williams did well to hold off a defender, but could only send his shot wide of the post. Henry Grad, more on the young keeper later, was quick off his line to block, as Dover looked to increase their lead in the 18th minute. A minute later and Uxbridge should have been level. Jackson again did well to win possession and charge towards Stuart Nelson in the Whites goal. The experienced Nelson stood tall and managed to save the original effort, spreading himself and blocking the shot with his body. However, the ball ran kindly back to Jackson who took a superb first touch and with only Jake Goodman on the line to beat from six yards, it seemed certain an equaliser was about to be scored. Heads were soon held in hands as somehow Goodman blocked and Donnelly’s curling effort from the rebound was clawed round the post by Nelson. Kandi had a chance for the visitors in the 23rd minute, sending a header just wide of the upright as Uxbridge seemed to be feeling the effects of that missed opportunity. With half-an-hour on the clock Patrick found space in the box and his powerful shot was blocked and Williams following in fired straight into the hands of Nelson. Minutes later Jackson tested the handling of Nelson with a 25-yarder that stung the keepers’ fingers. With the half-time teas being poured, Pavey was denied by a magnificent save from Grad. The tall striker timed his run to perfection and met Arjanit Krasniqi’s cross with a downward header that Grad had to fling himself to his left to keep out. Half-Time 0-1.
The Reds came out after the break determined to extend their FA Trophy adventure, taking the game to their National League South opponents at every opportunity. After an early scare when Grad got caught in no-mans land, it was chance after chance for the home side. Donnelly curled a shot just wide, Williams got away down the left and sent in a low cross which Josh Andrew fired against Alan Hedley in front of goal. Babs Jarra had been in fine form at the centre of the Reds defence, and it was a sad sight to see the defender limp off in the 59th minute with what looked like a pulled hamstring. Andy O’Brien replaced the unfortunate Jarra and helped keep the Dover’s front-line quiet for the remainder of the afternoon. Uxbridge continued to push forward – Donnelly and Ireland were finding pockets of space in midfield and Hedley had a shot just wide of the upright. Williams was the next man in red to try his luck, a 25-yard screamer was too close to Nelson to cause him any serious trouble. The equaliser deservedly came in the 71st minute – and it was worth waiting for. Hedley played a ball into the path of Josh Andrew who rode two tackles and fed the ball square to Donnelly – he in turn played a perfectly waited pass inside to Ireland, who despite the close attentions of a man in white, took one touch and unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner. Scenes of pandemonium on the bench and behind the goal greeted the former Harrow Borough and Walton Casuals midfielders first goal in the red of Uxbridge. Not satisfied with drawing level the Reds went in search of a winner. Two minutes later Williams sent in a cross – Hedley side-footed a pass onto the chest of the late arriving Andrew – would the ball drop-in time for him to volley home? – time stood still – ball dropped – volley just cleared the bar – crowd groaned and cheered all in the same breath. The hard-working Williams was causing problems for the Dover defence, his tireless running into channels giving them no respite. He cut inside from one of these runs and fired in a shot that was blocked – Patrick following up saw his effort just clear the bar. The lottery of a penalty shoot-out was looming on the horizon as the final whistle drew closer and
closer. In a rare Dover attack O’Brien did well to stand his ground and block Luke Wanadio’s close range shot in what would have been
an undeserved winner for the side sitting 44 places higher in the pyramid. Full-Time 1-1.
Uxbridge’s record in penalty shoot-outs isn’t great - twenty-four previous attempts had heralded only eleven positive outcomes. Every shoot-out has a villain and a hero or two – welcome to the hero column young Henry Grad. The keeper, who only made his Uxbridge debut a week earlier at Chertsey Town, saved Dovers’ second spot-kick and when Alfie Paxman’s penalty hit the crossbar and disappeared into the night sky it was left to hero number two. Up stepped Osobu and despite Nelson’s antics of kicking the ball away after it had been placed on the spot – yellow card shown – the ball was powerfully struck into the bottom corner – cue wild celebrations from the Uxbridge faithful. It’s days like these that makes all the effort put in by everyone connected with grassroot clubs worthwhile. The draw has given the Reds a tough tie at National League side Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday 17th December. You never know! COYR……
Uxbridge Line-up: Grad, Andrew, Patrick, Poley, Jarra, Jackson, Seabrook, Hedley, Williams, Donnelly, Ireland. Subs: O’Brien for Jarra, Witham for Seabrook, Osobu for Ireland. Not Used. Chendlik, Evans, Bitmead and Paris.
Pictures by Roy Green