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Matt finish keeps City alive in the FA Cup
7:13pm Sunday 7th October 2012 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
IT was a tale of two Matts as Worcester City kept their hopes of FA Cup success alive.
First, Matt Breeze scored with an exquisite effort to deservedly draw his side level with seven minutes to go at the Woodspring Stadium.
Then, keeper Matt Sargeant produced arguably the best and most important save of his fledgling career deep into stoppage-time to divert Chas Hemmings’ goal-bound drive on to the bar.
It ensured Carl Heeley’s team will get a second bite of the third qualifying round cherry at what promises to be a lively St George's Lane tonight.
For, although Saturday’s encounter only produced two goals, it was full-blooded, had plenty of needle and, with both sides playing the entire second-half with 10 men, became stretched.
City, who had Charlie Reece sent off for a challenge on Weston goalkeeper Lloyd Irish after just 17 minutes, were comfortably the better side even if they did come close to adding another chapter to their recent catalogue of FA Cup woes.
Weston, themselves reduced in numbers when Jamie Laird walked for two yellow cards before half-time, scored a good goal via the left boot of Kane Ingram but offered little else until the frantic closing stages.
At the centre of it all, though, was referee Chris Powell who struggled to keep a lid on the contest.
He was quick to brandish the red card to Reece, who collided with Irish as the keeper came bounding out to the touchline, and that set the benchmark.
Some yellow cards were justified — Weston's Jamie Price scythed down Mike Symons in the first-half and the City striker’s verbal pursuit of Irish for perceived time-wasting after the break was ill-advised in the circumstances.
But Laird’s second yellow on Danny Glover smacked of evening the sides up following Reece’s red and, by and large, players weren’t sure what decisions they were going to get from the Dorset official.
Ironically, that gave the game its edge and there was still plenty of quality on display, predominantly from the visitors.
The second-half saw City camped in Weston territory, pinging the ball around with aplomb on a pitch that had been partly submerged just hours earlier, and defending robustly.
Orchestrated by Tom Thorley, Worcester, also given an extra dimension by the arrival Greg Mills, probed constantly and, if an option did not present itself, kept possession and waited for one to arise.
When it did, Breeze despatched his shot superbly and the midfielder then played his part defensively as Weston briefly found a new lease of life.
But Sargeant, a bystander for much of the second period, stood firm when it mattered to ensure his side’s efforts did not go to waste.