Saturday, November 26, 2005

WORCESTER City's tremendous run of form in cup football this season continued at St. George's Lane when Andy Preece's side defeated Kendal Town 1-0 in their FA Trophy third qualifying round clash.

In front of a crowd of 973, disappointing considering FA cup tickets for Sunday's clash with Huddersfield Town were on sale, City always controlled the game against their lower-graded opponents, but the Cumbrians never gave up and very nearly earned a replay in stoppage time.

However, had it not been for Kendal goalkeeper James Salisbury, City would have won the game more convincingly, although they were never at their best.

City made one change from the side that defeated Chippenham Town in their last meaningful game, with Liam McDonald replacing Nick Colley in midfield.

The home side made a bright start against opponents, who were unbeaten in their previous nine games, and twice in the opening 10 minutes they might have gone in front.

Tom Warmer released Adam Webster and his low ball across the penalty area picked out McDonald but his low shot was straight at Salisbury.

Leon Kelly then also shot tamely at the 'keeper after more good work from Webster.

Kendal forced the first corner of the game when Rob Warner headed a dangerous cross from Ian Kilford behind his own goal, but the flag-kick came to nothing.

City went straight up the other end and were unlucky not to take the lead. Les Hines' left-wing cross was headed goalwards by Webster, but Salisbury tipped it onto the underside of the bar and Kelly was unable to force home the rebound.

Play was now beginning to swing from end to end and, on 24 minutes, Danny McDonnell made a good save to prevent the experienced Lee Ashcroft from putting the visitors ahead following a cross from Paul Rigby.

Webster was again in the thick of things two minutes later. Rob Warner's left-footed cross from the right was met by the striker's head, but somehow Salisbury managed to push the ball away to leave the score deadlocked at the interval.

City appeared to have made the elusive breakthrough five minutes into the second-half when a well-organised corner routine looked to have paid dividends.

Tom Warmer played the ball to Graham Hyde on the edge of the penalty area and his floated cross was headed into the net by Justin Thompson. However, City's celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee flagging for offside.

Thompson was again unlucky when his perfectly struck left-foot volley was brilliantly saved by Salisbury, who was producing an inspired display.

On 56 minutes, Kelly's pace and power caused problems for the Kendal defence and they were forced to concede a corner, from which Des Lyttle headed over the bar.

The goal eventually arrived on 69 minutes. Webster met Hines' left-wing cross and his looping header went over Salisbury, who was stranded on his six-yard line.

Tom Warmer sent a free-kick over the bar, before at the other end, Chris Smith conceded a foul in a dangerous position, some 25 yards from his own goal, but his namesake, Ged Smith, fired over the bar.

Substitute George Clegg's right-foot shot was saved by Salisbury following good work from Webster.

Moments later, the two players combined again, with Webster this time placing his header inches wide of the left-hand post.

In the last few minutes, Hines' free-kick went narrowly wide and City very nearly paid for not finishing the game off when, in stoppage-time, McDonnell made a decent save to stop a Kilford shot squeezing into the bottom corner.

That would have been hard on City, because there is no doubt they deserved to win.

But, on the evidence of this display, Kendal look to be a good bet to earn promotion from Unibond League Division One at the end of the season.

CITY: McDonnell, Warner, Hines, C.Smith, Thompson, Lyttle, McDonald (Colley 65), Hyde (Clegg 65), Kelly, Webster, Warmer. Subs not used: Preece, Hodnett, Wedgbury.