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City cling on to their dreams
9:59am Monday 14th October 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTER City came close to being on the wrong end of an FA Cup shock but rallied to keep their hopes alive.
The Blue and Whites were pushed all the way by their lower-ranked visitors, eventually emerging to fight another day at Butlin Road in tomorrow night’s replay.
For the neutral, this was an entertaining clash. For those connected with City, it was a nail-biter, while fans of Rugby would have left Aggborough wondering what might have been.
Just as against Coventry Sphinx in the previous round, Worcester were second best in the early stages and only poor finishing ensured they weren’t trailing.
But unlike against the Midland Alliance minnows, this time Carl Heeley’s side were unable to stamp their authority as the game progressed.
Indeed, it was an equally woeful showing in front of goal, particularly from Aaron Williams, that let Rugby off the hook.
Given the chances created, it was remarkable that neither side were able to fashion a goal in front of the third 700-plus crowd at Aggborough this season.
Heeley had sounded a pre-match warning of Rugby’s firepower and that was in evidence as David Kolodynski and former Worcester loan player Seb Lake-Gaskin got among them in the first-half.
Despite Richard Munday and Exodus Geohaghon both being axed from the centre of defence following last Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing at Stockport, the latter having left the club after refusing to play, the hosts were still vulnerable to pace.
Rugby appeared to have done their homework and, with a ball over the top, had Shabir Khan turning towards his own goal early on, as well as picking out several passes to stretch the backline.
However, Kolodynski and Lake-Gaskin squandered excellent chances, Jose Veiga saving from Kolodynski and then watching on helplessly as Lake-Gaskin blazed horribly over from six yards.
It wasn’t much better at the other end.
Once City had weathered the storm, they began to find their feet but not their shooting boots. Aaron Williams placed the ball the wrong side of the upright following a good move and, after the break, side-footed over the bar and into crowd after sub Niall Thompson had laid the ball on a plate.
Not even the introduction of Ethan Moore, back from injury, or on-loan Birmingham striker Reece Hales could break the deadlock.
Daniel Nti’s radar was also off, with the target man planting a header over from Ellis Deeney’s free-kick with seconds remaining.
Rugby, too, had their opportunities to upset the odds amid a frantic and tense finale but, in keeping with the script, fluffed their lines.
Any fans with plans to watch England take on Poland in tomorrow’s decisive World Cup qualifier might need to cancel them.
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