West recorded their biggest ever FA Cup win as they brushed aside a combative Athersley Recreation side on a bright day in Yorkshire.
Manager Steve Settle handed new signing Tom Bailey his debut whilst there were starts for Gary Lilley for the first time in over a year and Michael Simcock at left back. Settle was blessed with a substitute’s bench boasting Chris McDonagh, Joe Shaw, Saul Henderson, Richmond Botchey and Ben Steer.
The opening 10 minutes were fairly even as both sides looked to establish themselves with the upper hand with Gary Lilley and Athersley captain Ryan White, a man with over 1000 appearances, providing a real battle. The deadlock was broken after 12 minutes as Simcock’s corner was headed onto the post by Captain Mark Rogers with Bailey’s rebound superbly blocked at the near post but Kevin McGrath was on hand to open his West account sliding in to drill home the rebound.
Two minutes later a superb lofted pass from Lilley released Carlos Mendes Gomes who saw his low angled ball from the right cleared off the line. Athersley responded and on 15 minutes struck the post as Jack Briscoe curled an effort from outside the box after West had surrendered possession in their own half.
The chance woke up West who saw Bailey narrowly roll an effort wide after being played through by Mendes Gomes before a long ball from McGrath saw the West number 9 latch onto the bouncing ball and superbly lifted it over the on rushing goalkeeper and into the net on 19 minutes.
Mendes Gomes almost added a third on 27 minutes when he skipped past his marker and forced the Athersley goalkeeper into a terrific fingertip save to push a hard shot from the edge of the area over the bar.
West continued to dominate as the home side became increasingly frustrated as the two teams came together following the home sides objections over Lilley’s attempts to win back the ball which saw the West number 8 yellow carded for his part. Lilley then combined with Matty Kay and Mendes Gomes with some terrific one touch passing before firing an effort just over the bar as West went into the half with a two goal lead.
West started the second half in the mood to kill off the game and saw an effort cleared off the line when Athersley goalkeeper Ellis Halpine denied Nic Evangelinos with a stunning save before Mendes Gomes lobbed rebound headed off the line. Evangelinos wouldn’t be denied though as he curled in a wonderful effort from the edge of the penalty area into the top corner from the resulting corner on 48 minutes.
The fourth was added just before the hour mark as substitute Joe Shaw lifted a terrific effort over the Rec keeper with virtually his first touch of the game. Rec didn’t give up however and Kay came to West’s rescue to clear Spencer Sheppard’s low effort off the line. Aaron Ashley was then called into action for the first time to tip over a terrific strike from Jason Paling over the bar 30 yards out.
The games controversial moment came on 70 minutes when Rogers was flattened by a late challenge from Shepperd inside Rec’s half. However a coming together of him, Daniel Cawley and Shepperd bizarrely saw referee Mark Powell brandish the West captain a red card whilst Shepperd escaped with a yellow.
It wasn’t to be the last of the drama though as West made it 5-0 11 minutes from time when a throw in somehow managed to reach Tom Bailey and he volleyed home for his second and to re-write West’s history books.