Dominant Southall Seal Quarter Final Place
FA Vase 5th Round: Southall (0)4 vs Exmouth Town (0)2
Southall FC survived a late scare to clinch a richly deserved victory in their 5th Round Buildbase FA Vase tie against Exmouth Town in front of a large crowd at Reynold’s Field.
A sizeable contingent of visiting supporters had made the trip, and were in good voice, but watched their side start very much on the back foot against a Southall team that from the beginning looked sharper and more ambitious than the men from Devon. Frustratingly the game was not allowed to flow by a referee who some fans were heard to comment seemed rather too fond of his whistle. He did at least seem consistent in awarding free kicks for the most innocuous of challenges. Chances were thin on the ground, although it was certainly Exmouth who were looking the more stretched of the two teams, and were probably grateful that the first half finished goalless.
Southall began the second half purposefully, and broke the deadlock after 51 minutes through Wayne Harvey, who was once again proving to be a real handful. Now was the chance for Exmouth to show what they were made of, but they were unable to muster an effective response, and Southall added to their lead courtesy of a 56th minute long range strike by Liam Hind.
Southall’s joy was to be short-lived however, as Exmouth for the first time in the match began to rally. They were awarded a penalty after Luke Durham was fouled in the area. This was superbly converted in the 61st minute by Nathan Cooper, offering Southall keeper Michael Power-Simpson diving to his left no chance.
Instead of heralding a stirring Exmouth fightback, however, it was Southall who stepped up a gear, and it came as no surprise when they added a third in the 68th minute, Liam Hind’s shot being deflected beyond Exmouth keeper Jason Matthews’ despairing dive. This looked like game, set, and match to Southall. They almost added a fourth, Wayne Harvey’s shot from an acute angle cannoning off the outside of the near post.
Then with just two minutes of normal time remaining, and the game petering out, Luke Durham was once again deemed by referee Lee Venamore to have been fouled in the area, and Nathan Cooper added his second from the spot, a carbon copy of the first, to give Exmouth an unexpected lifeline. Even worse was to follow for Southall as the game entered stoppage time. Anthony Page received his marching orders for a second bookable offence just as the fourth official held up a board indicating that there would be a rather improbable 5 minutes of stoppage time for Southall to survive with 10 men! Worse still, conceding a goal now would mean having to face half an hour of extra time a man short.
Southall fans watched in stunned disbelief and prepared for the worst, but the players had other ideas, and the brief spell of ‘squeaky bum time’ was brought to an abrupt close in the 93rd minute. Wayne Harvey was put through one on one with the keeper. He calmly slotted home to book Southall a place in the quarter finals and wrap up victory in a tie in which despite the late hiccups they had dominated from start to finish.
Southall have been rewarded with a home quarter-final tie against Cleethorpes Town to be played on Saturday 18th February.