Saturday, November 5, 2005

ANOTHER draw. Another replay. And, more importantly, another crack at the FA Cup for Worcester City.

A massive night at St George's Lane lies in store next Monday, not least because the victors face a mouth-watering second round tie at home to Huddersfield Town, one-time winners of the famous silver trophy back in 1922.

In front of a boisterous, sell-out Hardenhuish Park crowd, including 800 noisy City fans, Andy Preece's troops worked frantically to finish off Chippenham Town at the first time of asking.

Following Adam Webster's fifth-minute opener, they had chances to put the tie to bed aided by the pitch's downward slope and Town's jitteriness in defence.

But buoyed by the majority of a crammed 2,815 crowd, the Bluebirds fought back within 60 seconds of the second-half starting, Ian Harvey seemingly finding the final touch in a mighty goalmouth scramble.


That signalled a mini-tidal wave of Chippenham pressure that may have sunk other sides.

However, City cast anchor in nerve-shredding conditions. Webster headed against the crossbar and Rob Warner scuffed a golden opportunity to cement his cup hero status, but pressure unfolded at the opposite end.

Danny McDonnell superbly beat away David Gilroy's sure-fire chip and Chris Smith blocked Gilroy's late goal-bound drive with a gut-busting block.

In the end, City successfully ended Chippenham's 100 per cent home record and will be confident of finishing the job at the second attempt.

The aggressive Wiltshire outfit may have spurned their best hope of progressing, but they are by no means out of the competition.

Another colossal effort is needed --similar to that which eliminated Accrington Stanley -- to overcome this hurdle.

Worcester got off to a flier when Webster netted, protecting his fine record of scoring in each round.

Captain Des Lyttle rose highest to meet Liam McDonald's free-kick and, composure personified, Webster slammed home from eight yards to send City's fans delirious in the opposite School End.

The striker almost doubled his tally after brushing off two Town defenders and firing from an acute angle. But goalkeeper Nathan Vaughan saved low and Tom Warmer's follow-up shot was thwarted.

Justin Thompson later slice-kicked inside the Bluebirds penalty box as City took a stranglehold, while Webster was denied by Ross Adams on the goal-line.

Town failed to register a single first-half shot on goal and City looked for all the world to be on course to maintaining their lead.

But in the blink of an eye, Chippenham dragged themselves level after the interval. McDonnell saved point-blank from Gilroy, although the ball was fed back into the six-yard box and in a melee of bodies Harvey forced it home.

Bedlam broke in the home section and feeding from that, Town were galvanised and took control of midfield as the pressure suddenly told on City's young trio of Warmer, Sam Wedgbury and Danny Hodnett.

But chances still fell in City's lap on the break, despite the home side's gusto. Webster nodded against the bar and, at the back post, Warner skewed Leon Kelly's low cross wide.

Everyone expected at least one clear-cut chance from Town and it came on 77 minutes following confusion between McDonnell and Lyttle.

The ball fell nicely to Gilroy, but the Bluebirds forward's chip was magnificently turned away one-handed by McDonnell.

CITY: McDonnell, Warner, Hodnett (Hyde 59), Smith, Thompson, Lyttle, Wedgbury (Colley 82), Warmer, Kelly (Preece 90), Webster, McDonald. Subs not used: Clegg, Jones.