Woodwork Denies Stutes FA Cup Progress
A pulsating game at the Riverside Stadium ended with Histon slipping out of the FA Cup, but not without putting up a courageous fight against a strong Mildenhall side. All the goals came in the first half in a game which kept the 200-plus spectators on the edge of their seats from start to finish and had more than its fair share of close misses, fractious exchanges and a late disallowed goal.
While the home side will be delighted to remain in the competition, Lance Key and his Stutes side will be wondering how this one slipped away from them after striking the woodwork on three occasions and having a late goal chalked off.
Histon started with one change to the starting line-up from the previous week with Marcus Cole replacing Sam Collison, signaling a more attacking style for this much-anticipated encounter. With memories of the pre-season 4-0 humbling clearly lingering in the back of a few minds, Histon began the game much the stronger as they attacked with the advantage of the pronounced slope in the first half. Dan Brown, up against his former employers, was proving to be a handful for the home defence, as was Marcus Cole with his darting runs down the right flank.
But for all the promise being shown early on, it was Mildenhall who struck first. A long free kick from just inside the Histon half was headed back across goal and, after a spell of pinball, found its way past Sam Roach.
Histon fought back and chances were being created at both ends of the pitch. Rhys Thorpe, playing as the central point in Histon’s front three, came close when he swung over a high ball which deceived everyone and bounced off the far post. Thorpe limped out of the game shortly afterwards with a hip injury and was replaced by the highly promising youth team graduate Mar-Lee Fisher.
Mildenhall had looked lively going forward and Roach had to be alert on several occasions to prevent the hosts from adding to their lead. But the Stutes equaliser was well deserved and also stemmed from a free kick. With almost 30 minutes on the clock, Pat Bexfield’s delivery was headed on by Evan Key for Dan Brown to latch onto and slot neatly past the former Soham Town Rangers ‘keeper Josh Pope with his right foot.
Parity had been restored and was the least the visitors deserved, but the game was to edge away from them once again just three minutes before the brake. A fine ball into the Histon penalty area was initially well defended by Ollie Brookes but found its way into the Histon net to give the home side a slender lead at half time.
The second half started brightly for Histon. Marcus Cole had a golden opportunity to equalise early on but couldn’t quite sort his feet out. Evan Key then fired a shot against a post and a few minutes later Ryan Towner hit a screamer which thumped against the bottom edge of the bar, hit the sprawling keeper on the back and somehow span back into his hands.
As the game moved on, Alex Stevens-Lee was to join Mar-Lee Fisher in the Histon midfield and the pair were playing some neat football, creating further half-chances but without getting the run of the ball that Histon dearly needed. For a moment it appeared that the equaliser had arrived when a corner was swung in just under the bar and the ball, the goalkeeper, Luke Crisp and a gaggle of Mildenhall defenders all ended up in the net in an untidy heap. But, despite claims for the goal to stand, the Referee not surprisingly awarded a free kick to Mildenhall for a foul on the ‘keeper. It was to be the final piece of action in a game which was full of endeavor from both sides and had it’s share of heavy tackles.
The result leave Histon to concentrate on the league and the FA Vase, starting with a home tie against Debenham LC on Friday night with an 8.00pm kick-off.
Histon: Sam Roach, Andy Ballester (Sam Collison 74), Pat Bexfield, Evan Key, Luke Crisp, Ollie Brookes, Dan Brown, Ryan Towner, Rhys Thorpe (Mar-Lee Fisher 25), Marcus Cole (Alex Stevens-Lee 61), Charlie Tunnell.
Histon subs not used: Chris Gough.
Histon yellow cards: Pat Bexfield, Andy Ballester, Ollie Brookes, Sam Collison.
Histon goal scorer: Dan Brown (28).