Vase trail: Cold As Ice

23 February 2011 11:21
Match 7: Saturday 12th February 2011. 5th Round. Coalville Town v Holbrook Sports. Owen Street Sports Ground, Coalville. Valentine's weekend, and what better way to do it that send the missus with me on a trek half way across the country to watch a football match in a new 'field'. To be fair, Coalville had a neat little setup, with a long stand down one side of the pitch, behind which there was a training pitch, a decent clubhouse (until a large crowd descends for a Vase match), and cute little buildings housing canteen, club shop and toilets. You could tell we were reaching the latter stages of the competition, as a rather healthy crowd of 321 settled down to watch the game.  Coalville had been lapping up the occasion ahead of kick-off, singing away and taking loads of photos, while Holbrook appeared to have a steely determination about them. So naturally, it was Coalville who bossed the opening period, and indeed the opening half.  They could have had the dream opening on five minutes when a long punt forward caused confusion between keeper and defender, and only the hacking away of the loose ball in the nick of time prevented a tap-in for Holbrook. On ten minutes, home captain Cameron Stuart whipped over a ball from the left, and Matt Gardner's header was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Simon Lillie. Another Stuart ball from the left, from a free-kick five minutes later, was headed just wide by Lee Miveld, and on 21 minutes Anthony Carney and Callum Woodward combined well, the latter threading a neat ball through to Gardner, whose shot was easily saved by the Holbrook keeper down to his left. Holbrook created their first chance on 26 minutes as Paul Campbell exploited some space down the left.  He passed inside to Mark Finlay, but saw his shot comfortably saved by Sean Bowles. But back came Town, and on 33 minutes they took the lead.  Gavin Whitehead conceded a silly free-kick outside the area, and the trusty left foot of Stuart struck the ball into the bottom left hand corner to open the scoring. Coalville were inches away from doubling their lead three minutes before half-time when Leigh Everitt - with a suspicion of handball - crossed in from the byline, but the ball agonising evaded Finlay as it flew across goal. Half-time came, and upstairs to the clubhouse we went for a cool one.  However, the place was crowded and we had to wait an age before being served as one of the home officials poured the pints ever so slowly from his temporary pump out on the balcony. It was about ten past four before we managed to get back outside, and needless to say as we headed down the stairs, Finlay had scored an equaliser for the visitors.  The official site says he fashioned the chance himself before drilling an angled shot across Bowles into the corner of the net. The game then became a bit messy, but changed dramatically with 13 minutes left, when the referee somewhat harshly sent off home defender Everitt for a foul outside the area.  With covering defenders inside, the decision seemed somewhat strange. This gave Holbrook extra impetus, and in the last ten minues they went all out for the winner.  Defender Campbell was first to try his luck, seeing his angled shot blocked on the line, before David Noon finished the same move by firing narrowly wide. And "Emile" Ejiofor almost won it in the final minute, bursting down the middle before unleashing a curling shot which Bowles rather comfortably saved with an extravagant leap to his right. So Coalville hung on into extra-time, and after clearing off their own line on 103 minutes after a Mitchell shot on the stretch, they took the lead.  Craig Attwood played a superb defence splitting pass through to substitute Matt Moore, and he surged forward and rounded the keeper before stroking home into the empty net. And it was all over for a tired Holbrook with six minutes left as Woodward found Moore in the clear, and the striker had the simplest of tasks to pick his spot and stroke home beyond the stationary keeper. A strange game, definitely one of "two halves", which Holbrook almost snatched at the death, but despite the extra man into extra time, their tired legs were exploited in devastating fashion by Moore. Another replay avoided I thought as I headed to the car, which the missus had warmed herself up in through the extra half hour,  It was certainly as "Cold As Ice" down in Coalville, as Foreigner told us back in the late 70s. And so it was back to the hotel ahead of a romantic meal in the evening.  Or it would have been, had we not fallen asleep until 9 o'clock.  A freezing, knackering day, and looking at the teams left in the last eight, the prospect of a long, long trip in the quarter finals! FA VASE TRAIL SO FAR (team followed in capitals) 1st Qualifying Round Sat 04 Sep 3pm NELSON v Abbey Hey (walkover for Abbey Hey) 2nd Qualifying Round Sat 18 Sep 3pm ABBEY HEY 0 Oldham Boro 0 (after extra time) 2nd Qualifying Round Replay Tue 21 Sep 7.45pm Oldham Boro 3 ABBEY HEY 2 (after extra time, played at Abbey Hey) 1st Round Sat 02 Oct 3.00pm St. Helens Town 2 OLDHAM BORO 1 (played at Ashton Town) 2nd Round Sat 13 Nov 3.00pm Winterton Rangers 0 ST. HELENS TOWN 2 3rd Round Wed 15 Dec 7.45pm Holbrook Sports 4 ST. HELENS TOWN 0 4th Round Sat 29 Jan 3.00pm HOLBROOK SPORTS 2 Lancing 1 5th Round Sat 12 Feb 3.00pm Coalville Town 3 HOLBROOK SPORTS 1 (after extra time)