MATCH REPORT | West 2-3 Squires Gate

Saturday 11th August 2018, FA Cup extra preliminary round

West 2 (Shaw 74, Henderson 90+5, Jones sent off 50)
Squires Gate 3 (Charnley 22, Dawson 34, Booth 52)
Att: 214

Ten-man West bowed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle for the second consecutive season as a late comeback fell just short against Squires Gate.

Joe Shaw and Saul Henderson dragged West to within a whisker of an unlikely replay in Blackpool, but in truth the damage had long since been done. Ryan Charnley and Brett Dawson put Gate in a commanding position at half time, and Joseph Booth’s free-kick, immediately after West keeper Will Jones was shown red for handball outside the area, looked to have settled matters before West’s late rally.

This was a match played at classic cup-tie pace from the first minute – the ball fizzed from box to box for the opening 20 minutes with the visitors carving out the best opening when Dawson nodded Jordan Salthouse’s cross onto a post. At the other end, Junior Dos Santos, handed his first West start after a promising cameo at Hanley Town in midweek, was causing problems and teed up Shaw, who blazed over from the edge of the box.

But it was the visitors who struck first – Dawson was involved again, his shot deflected into the path of Charnley, who fired powerfully over Jones and into the net. Worse was to come 12 minutes later as the visitors carved open the West defence. Booth’s through-ball found Dawson onside and with all the time in the world to slip the ball past Jones and into the corner.

West had fought back from 2-0 down to draw level against Northwich Victoria seven days earlier, but this time it was the visitors who claimed a decisive third goal just after the restart. It was calamitous from West’s point of view – after possession was surrendered in midfield, Jones rushed from his line and handled outside the area, deemed to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity by the referee. Jones was dismissed and Rory Breslin made way for subsitute goalkeeper Ollie Culkin, but Culkin’s first act was to pick the ball out of his net after Booth found the top corner.

Gate looked to be strolling to a preliminary round meeting with Droylsden, but West saved their best period of the game for this seemingly-impossible position. First-half substitute Ashley Leather, making his debut after signing from Wythenshawe Town earlier in the week, was instrumental – after serving notice of intent with a couple of direct runs in the first period, his raw pace kept Gate on the back foot in the final half-hour. Henderson crossed straight at Ben Fletcher in the Gate goal, but West did get the goal their perseverance deserved when Shaw emulated Booth and flighted a free-kick into the top corner.

Matt Eckersley and Henderson passed up opportunities to narrow the defecit further, but a frantic finish was almost inevitable and it duly arrived when Henderson nodded in Bailey’s cross in the fifth minute of stoppage time. But despite an even later corner that brought Culkin into the Gate box, West had left themselves with too much to do as they exited the FA Cup at the hands of Gate for the second time in three seasons.

West: Jones, Botchey, Tinker, Eckersley, Rogers (Leather 30), Mason, Shaw, Breslin (Culkin 50), Bailey, Henderson, Dos Santos. Not used: Hadfield-Summerbee, Mohammed, Brew-Butler, Banasko.

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