December 20 2013 Latest news:
By Steve Rogers
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Hendon blogger Steve Rogers gives his verdict on Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Bideford in the FA Trophy.
For the first time in nine years, we’ve won two FA Trophy ties in the same season! Along with the League Cup, the FA Trophy has been one of our bogey competitions over the years, and our decent runs in the competition are few and far between since it replaced the FA Amateur Cup in the mid-1970s.
We certainly had to do it the hard way on Sunday afternoon against a Bideford side who are the only unbeaten side in league football in the top seven levels of the game. The only game they had lost before Sunday was in the FA Cup.
Doing it the hard way means playing with 10 men for 82 minutes. Casey Maclaren was, in the view of many, harshly sent off for an alleged elbow in the back of the neck of an opponent when both players were going for the ball, which meant a reshuffle at the back.
Fortunately the reshuffle didn’t really result in anyone playing out of position, and the revised back four, superbly marshalled by James Fisher, had an excellent game. Bideford had plenty of possession but they found getting a final ball into the box tough going, and on the few occasions that they did, they were unable to really test Berkley Laurencin.
The second half began in a similar vein, and Laurencin and the back four picked up where they had left off. The turning point came 20 minutes from time when Bideford’s skipper, Rob Farkins, was sent off for a similar challenge to the one Casey Maclaren had made early in the game.
Again, a number of spectators felt the red card was harsh, but in fairness to the referee, he had shown consistency with his decision-making, regardless of whether he’d got the red card calls correct or not.
Strangely, Bideford then continued with their attacking game, rather than shutting up shop and forcing us into an unwanted, long midweek trip to north Devon. That decision by the visitors played into our hands and we were able to gain control of the game.
Six minutes from time, Dean Cracknell was introduced at the expense of Carl McCluskey, who had run himself into the ground, as he so often does.
A minute later, Cracknell played the ball to Kevin Maclaren, who crossed the ball from left to right, where Dave Diedhiou met it with his head and sent the ball across the keeper and into the net. That was the cue for celebrations both on and off the pitch.
All credit to the team, they kept their focus and concentration, and if anything could have extended the lead before the end of the game, with Bideford having run out of ideas on how to break us down.
It really was an excellent performance from the team. There seemed to be a real determination to put last week’s debacle at Hampton to bed, and also to ensure that the club stayed in a competition in which we are long overdue a good run.
Our reward is another home tie, this time against Conference North side Oxford City. We haven’t played them since March 1998, when we won 2-0 at Court Place Farm.
Taking part in that game was our current manager Gary McCann, assistant manager Freddie Hyatt and coach Junior Lewis.
Indeed, Lewis scored one of the goals, along with one of the best strikers to ever play for the club, Paul Whitmarsh.
Oxford have had a tough season so far – in fact they are currently bottom of the Conference North following their 3-2 defeat at Harrogate Town on Saturday afternoon.
The cup tie is scheduled for 3pm on Sunday November 17 at our Earlsmead home but, before that, we return to league action with a home game against Metropolitan Police this coming Saturday, also a 3pm kick off. It would be great to see you there.
Follow me on Twitter @SR_Sport