Hadley FC FA Cup Match Report

Steyning Town pulled off a stunning FA Cup victory over Isthmian League Hadley FC on Tuesday evening to set up an enticing looking tie with national league Maidstone United.

After a tight 0-0 draw Saturday, the replay turned out to be an absolute thriller. From the off, it was clear there was little between these two teams as they went toe to toe, end to end, punch for punch only for it to be decided by a knockout blow (a penalty) in the last minute expertly despatched by skipper Jack Barnes, capping off a fine display from the captain.

The management team made changes from Saturday and showed that this squad really is about rotation and depth; everyone trusted. The only concern for Town was an injury to the colossus that is Nathan Cooper, which saw him come through a last-minute fitness test to take his place in the side. He had another fine game until the injury caught up with him midway through the second half, limping off to be replaced by Oladokun. The experienced Axell came in to the starting eleven and put in a very effective performance in the middle of the park, full of great touches, and Da Costa at the back also put in another unfussy, high quality performance.

Returning to the side, was Goldson who worked his socks off all evening, and it was he who opened the scoring around half an hour mark pouncing on defensive confusion, rounding the keeper and slotting home much to the delight of a large and vociferous support. It was a lead that Steyning barely deserved based on the balance of play, but just reward for staying resilient whilst under pressure from the lively visitors whose great approach play continually was wasted in the final third.

However, Hadley didn’t have to wait too long for an equaliser. A soft freekick was awarded just outside the box right on the stroke of half-time and a nod down was bundled home from close range to see the teams go in to the break all square.

At half time Town changed formation which saw the in form Meehan replace Radley-Martin. And this proved to be an inspired change as Meehan had an unbelievable second-half, causing the visitors defence problems all half. His direct running from in between the lines created space for others, and this meant Remfry, Francis and Goldson got into much more dangerous attacking positions. And what we all thought was a crucial second goal came on the 72nd minute as Francis broke well, squared to Meehan, and he finished in style with a low drive from just outside the penalty area. Delirium all around us.

Prior to the goal Town had enjoyed their best spell of the game and had looked increasingly dangerous. Shooman and Hallett getting some good deliveries in to the box from wide positions. Hadley, certainly the better side in the first half, looked to be tiring a bit and were sitting back happy to play on the break. However, going a goal behind sprung them into life and Town goalie Tyler Pickering, in for the suspended Lucas,made a number of good stops, one especially where he finger tipped a header around the post.

However, on the 80th minute Tyler parried a drive from distance at chest height that bounced away and the Hadley forward just had to tap home to create a stunned silence in the ground.

It was clear a lot of people in the ground feared the worst at this stage as this gave a great tonic to the visitors. Could Town pick themselves up again? Stupid question, of course they could!! This team is made of stern stuff; straight on the attack again creating half chances, and from one of a number of corners , a penalty was awarded in the final minute for a clumsy challenge in the box. Up stepped Skipper Barnes, fresh from missing his last penalty, the crowd held their collective breath, but this time he made no mistake, firing home, powerfully into the bottom right hand corner, much to the light of everybody in the ground.

Five minutes ahead of time, absolutely flew by. The final whistle went and Steyning were in to the next round and had a mouthwatering tie to look forward to against national league side Maidstone United a week on Saturday. Bring it on. We dare to dream.

What a game. Played in great spirits by both sides. High on quality and drama. So little to choose between them over 180 minutes. Hopefully the quality of the game last night entertained the large crowd and we may have acquired a few new supporters.

Town: Pickering Da Costa Cooper Hallett Shooman Barnes Axell Francis Radley-Martin Remfry Goldson

Subs used: Meehan Fuller Oladokun
Not used: Clark Edwards Langford Towning

Share This