ISUZU FA TROPHY
SATURDAY 29TH OCTOBER 2022
UXBRIDGE 4 WINGATE & FINCHLEY 2 (HT 1-0)
A topsy-turvy encounter with Isthmian League Premier Division Wingate & Finchley, finally concluded with the Reds progressing to the Second Round and a home tie against National League South side Dover Athletic. With three quarters of the tie elapsed Uxbridge were leading 2-0 and appeared to be cruising, but two goals in three minutes turned the game on its head, before a dramatic last five minutes saw the home side snatch victory.
The visitors started brightly, Tyler Tobin was relieved when former Reds striker Dylan Kearney failed to find the target, after his mis-hit clearance in the second minute, went straight to the forward thirty
yards from the unguarded net. Three minutes later Tobin was at full stretch to fingertip away Alkeo Bani’s freekick, as the Blues looked to open the scoring. Tyrique Clarke, the Wingate & Finchley wide man, was causing the Reds some anxious moments but gradually they managed to get a foothold in the game and began to cause the Blues some problems. Joe Jackson’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected over the top and from the half-cleared corner Kensley Maloney fired over the bar. Josh Andrew was marauding down the wing and from one of his runs Uxbridge took the lead. Alex Witham played the ball to the full-back and his cross was punched into the air by Ben Goode in the Blues goal. Witham had made his way into the box and sent a looping header back over the stranded keeper into the empty net. Both sides had chances to score just before the break - firstly Uxbridge gave away possession on the edge of their area and Babs Jarra had to fling himself into the air and volley a dangerous cross away for a corner – then with seconds remaining Mark Bitmead got clear and sent over a low cross into the path of Witham just yards from goal. However, he somehow missed his kick and the referee
blew for halftime.
The second period got underway and the Reds were quickly on the attack, looking to extend their lead and book a place in the Second Round. Andrew again went on a mazy run and was denied by a stunning full-length diving stop by Goode. From the corner Alan Hedley shot just wide and minutes later Andrew was only stopped by a last-ditch tackle as he bore down on goal. Uxbridge’s endeavours were finally rewarded in the 55th minute as Hedley charged down Michael Olarewaju’s clearance and as cool as ice passed the ball into the bottom corner, past the statuesque Goode. Uxbridge were now well on-top and it came out of the blue when the visitors pulled a goal back in the 67th minute. Sam Cornish picked up a loose ball and burst into the box, squaring it to Kearney who volleyed home from seven yards. Shell-shocked from this set-back the Reds were left reeling as Wingate & Finchley drew level. Bani found himself in space twelve yards out and fired home a powerful shot past Tobin from Clarke’s cut-back. Lots of teams would have folded but the Reds responded superbly and took the game to the visitors. Danny Edwards sent on Dan Williams along with the experienced Victor Osobu and Scott Donnelly. With the spectre of penalties, to decide the tie, looming on the horizon Uxbridge got their noses back in front in contentious circumstances. Jackson fed the ball to Williams, who in Gascoigne style, clipped it over Olarewaju and just as he was about to pull the trigger the Blues centre half pushed him from behind, sending the lively forward sprawling to the floor. Referee Perry pointed to the spot and produced a red card for the crest fallen defender, who contested that Williams was offside from the original pass. Donnelly placed the ball on the spot but had to wait an eternity while the protests ensued. However, he showed the same coolness as Hedley had produced earlier, sending Goode the wrong way. As the game entered stoppage time the Blues won a free-kick wide on the left. A packed penalty area, including Goode, awaited the set-piece - the home supporters held their breath as the ball floated towards danger area – Donnelly read the situation and volleyed the ball towards the halfway line. Osobu, with shouts of corner flag ringing in his ears, picked up the clearance and realising that Goode was nowhere to be seen, beat the last man and rolled the ball into the empty net. Full-Time 4-2.
For the second season in a row Uxbridge are having a great run in the FA Trophy and will be hoping they can take this form into their league campaign. After Enfield Town in the Middlesex Senior Cup on Tuesday they face two promotion rivals in Northwood and Chertsey Town as they look to climb towards to the top of the table.
Uxbridge Line-up: Tobin, Andrew, Goodman, Jarra, O’Brien, Jackson, Bitmead, Hedley, Chendlik, Maloney, Witham. Subs used: Williams
Photos by Roy Green