Sudbury through to Vase final again

FA VASE SEMI-FINAL SECOND LEGColne FC 1 AFC Sudbury 1(Agg. 3-4)by David VincentGary Harvey's Barmy Army are on their way to Birmingham for the FA Vase final in May.

FA VASE SEMI-FINAL SECOND LEG

Colne FC 1 AFC Sudbury 1

(Agg. 3-4)

by David Vincent


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Gary Harvey's Barmy Army are on their way to Birmingham for the FA Vase final in May.

The Sudbury players raised the roof with their "barmy army" chants at the end of their draw at Colne.

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They withstood a battering by the elements and a lively North West Counties League side and their 1-1 draw took them through to the final on aggregate.

Their progress has not been without its scares. In the first leg Colne grabbed a 2-0 lead and it was not until injury-time that Dean Francis struck the winner which gave them the 3-2 advantage before heading north on Saturday.

Most games in the Colne area were called off on Saturday, including the First Division fixture at nearby Burnley because of wind damage.

Colne hadn't lost a home game since September, when manager Nigel Coates took over, and it was easy to see why.

Even without the strong winds the Holt House ground is difficult for visitors with its steep slope.

The wind blowing down the slope made it a nightmare for goalkeepers and defenders. Indeed Sudbury's Dean Greygoose did well to keep a clean sheet in the first half.

Colne keeper Ross Baxter conceded one but it could have been worse. One of his goal kicks only travelled about 20 yards before ballooning up and back towards him and he had to make a save at the foot of his post.

Colne paraded some of the FA Vase winners of 1988, Colne Dynamoes, before the kick off. Dynamoes had put out Sudbury Town on their way to the final.

Sudbury won the toss and Chris Tracey elected to kick uphill for the first 45 minutes. The wind made any sort of ball control difficult, passes held up or raced away and any high balls were a complete lottery.

Long throws and deep punts towards the Sudbury goal were always dangerous.

Greygoose had to be down smartly at his near post when left-winger Cooper whipped in a dangerous low cross and captain Tracey had to head away several high balls.

In the 21st minute Greygoose produced two saves from the top drawer to beat out strong efforts from dangerous strikers Howarth and Simpson, bouncing up quickly from the first save to parry away the follow-up.

Terry Rayner went down with an ankle injury and Sudbury had to make a change with Francis coming on from the bench.

It was almost one-way traffic. Greygoose saved a well-struck effort by Cooper who had cut in from the wing, then Walker tried a long-range effort that zipped just over the bar.

Sudbury went close when Baxter dived at the feet of Francis and then appealed in vain for a penalty when Neil Calver was clipped over in the area by Rishton. Strikers Gary Bennett and Andrew Claydon couldn't really get hold of the ball.

Greygoose produced another excellent save shortly before half-time, tipping over a 25-yard drive by James Webster, the Colne player-chairman.

Simpson smashed a powerful volley which clipped the Sudbury bar as half-time approached and Claydon earned a rare corner for Sudbury, with David Head firing into the side netting at the near post.

In the second half Sudbury had the wind at their backs and began to dominate possession without having too many clear efforts on goal. Somehow there always seemed to be a defender's leg or body in the way.

Baxter was more worried by his goalkicks, some of which went straight out for throws.

Colne looked good on the counter-attack with Cooper especially lively on the wing and Greygoose had to make a good save from Walker.

Howarth headed wide from a cross by Walker and in the next Sudbury attack Walker headed a right wing cross by Francis over his own bar.

With just over 10 minutes to go Gary Harvey sent on Sam Banya to replace Andrew Claydon.

An attempted pass by Wardley was diverted when it hit Rishton giving Banya a clear run down the right channel and in on goal.

He kept calm, committed Baxter and then passed the ball into the net to give Sudbury the lead.

The goal sparked Colne into action. A couple of minutes later Cooper got down the left but his driven cross evaded everybody.

Gardiner conceded a free kick 40 yards from goal and when it was taken it struck Gardiner, with handball being given.

The second free kick was moved to the edge of the D and Cooper stepped up to curl in to the top corner.

Colne now needed another goal to take the tie into extra-time.

Manager Coates sent on substitutes Hayes and Ingham and Colne continued to pour forward urged on by their record crowd.

Captain Scott Gizon had a shot blocked, then Ingham advanced a smashed an effort against the Sudbury bar.

It proved to be their last clear effort despite manager Coates joining with a minute of the 90 to go.

The final whistle came with Sudbury passing the ball around in the Colne half.

It was not pretty but the job had been done.

The weather should be better in Birmingham in May.

Teams:

Colne: Baxter, Walker (Ingham), Heffernan, Robers, Rishton (Coates), Whitaker, Webster (Hayes), Gizon (captain), Simpson, Haworth and Cooper. Unused subs: Walton and Potts.

Sudbury: Greygoose, D Head, Wardley, Girling, Tracey, Gardiner (Norfolk), Rayner (Francis), Calver, Claydon (Banya), Bennett and Betson. Unused subs: Howlett and Nower.

Referee: Mr A Penn, West Midlands.

Attendance: 1742.

david.vincent@eadt.co.uk

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