FA Cup triumph for determined Sodbury
The road to Wembley in the football world’s oldest competition is a lengthy one but Chipping Sodbury’s dream lives on after a winning 2-1 in the preliminary stages against a determined side from the Premier Division of the Hellenic League.
A 1-1 draw at Scours Lane, home of Reading City, led to a replay at the Ridings that would be decided on the night by extra time. The first tie had been close but Reading could count themselves unlucky after twice hitting the frame of the goal and having a penalty saved by the majestic Jack Dando in the Sodbury goal.
Against a side that has scored an average of four and a half goals per game in the opening 5 games of the season, Sodbury had their work cut out from the off, but they knuckled down and matched their opponents for pace and resilience throughout.
The match started at a frantic pace, one that continued for much of the 90 minutes of normal time. Reading started the stronger of the two teams and they passed the ball well but lacked composure in the final third. They enjoyed the lions share of possession in the opening 30 minutes forcing several corners but did not take advantage and Sodbury began to grow in confidence.
The home team matched their opponents with a strong work ethic and had clearly worked hard in pre-season to maintain such a fast pace. George Box worked tirelessly up front for the Sods and was a constant thorn in the Reading defence's side. He chased and harried all over the pitch largely unaccompanied but when his two wingers joined in the attack their pace gave the away back four an uncomfortable night.
Reading attacked with pace but relied a little too heavily on the long ball which the Sodbury defence dealt with comfortably. When they did manage to break down the resolute Sodbury back line they found Dando in the home goal in fine form.
As the home side grew into the game they began to create chances of their own. On 20 minutes they forced a corner following some good work down the right. The back post header from the corner sailed over the bar from what was a good position to score but Sodbury continued to attack whenever they could.
The Reading defenders proved superior in the air with every aerial encounter from the home side dealt with comfortably. Up front they created several half chances, wasted a couple of clear-cut opportunities and as the half drew to a close looked the more likely side to break the deadlock.
With just six minutes of the half remaining Reading took a deserved lead when their captain Harry Grant made the most of a through ball which split the home side’s defence in two and left him with just Dando to beat from close range.
Sodbury immediately went on the offensive but wasted an opportunity to level when they blasted a clear shot over the bar from the edge of the Reading area. Reading continued to press the home defence looking to build on their lead but Sodbury stood firm and the half ended without any addition to the score. Within 30 seconds of the restart Sodbury were presented the opportunity to level when they were awarded a penalty following a handball. Liam Pullen dispatched the spot kick firing hard and over the diving Reading keeper.
Sodbury made a couple of substitutions with Jamie Innis coming on after an hour of the game, followed by the goal scorer Liam Pullen five minutes later. The introduction of Jamie Samuel and Jo White kept the frantic pace of the game with both sides pushing for a decisive goal.
In the 70th minute, Sodbury created an opening with a break down the left. Cavanagh in the Reading goal only parried the low cross and the resultant shot on target was cleared from the six-yard box.
Dando was called upon to make a good save low down to his left a couple of minutes later and as Reading’s pace eased off a little, Sodbury began to exploit this with long balls out to their wingers. Reading made a substitution and a few minutes later Fry left the field to be replaced by Luke Bruman for Sodbury as both sides pressed for a winner. Extra time started with the game flowing from end to end but it was an injury to the Sodbury full back that created controversy when the official refused to let Sodbury make a fourth substitution. The home side coach presented the referee with the rulebook to protest that a fourth replacement is allowed during extra time in the FA Cup but the request was denied.
The Sodbury back soldiered on and the game continued and after just six minutes of the first period the home side took the lead. Jamie Samuel proved a handful as he worked his way across the edge of the box leaving several bewildered defenders in his wake. His run opened up space down the left and his pass found Joe White in space inside the penalty area. He calmly slotted passed the oncoming Cavanagh to give Sodbury a 2-1 advantage. The cheer from the 200 strong crowd could probably be heard in Yate.
Reading were not finished though and just three minutes after the Sodbury goal they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. The strike was so fierce that neither the wall nor Dando in goal had a chance to move but the cross bar saved the day.
Dando was involved in the second period of extra time however, when a Reading shot appeared destined for the back of the net only for the keeper to produce a stunning save. Everyone in the crowd had momentarily resigned themselves to an equaliser but Dando defied the odds and managed to scoop the shot out from under his cross bar.
The rebound fell at the feet of a Reading attacker who looked odds on to score from just six yards out but his shot found the side netting.