Sarratt – 1
Aston Clinton – 4
Aston Clinton eased through their Spartan South Midlands League Division Two Cup Quarter-Final on Saturday at Sarratt, although it took two second half penalties for the visitors to seal their passage into the semi-final where they will face Bovingdon for a place in this season’s final. Two goals in a minute in the first half looked to have put Clinton in a dominant position but they conceded just sixty seconds later to set up an intriguing cup tie in which the hosts had two gilt edged opportunities to level before the break that were wasted; it took a rash tackle after the break to allow Taylor Collins the opportunity to bag his hatrick for the afternoon, and another spot kick wrapped up the scoring late on, as Neil Roberts side confirmed their cup pedigree by reaching the last four of a knockout competition for the second time in four days.
Just two minutes in saw a ball over the home defence for Kevin Mealor to latch onto and his first time effort saw Sarratt keeper Liam Studley have to pounce away to his left to gather with both hands, a long clearance from the away backline then saw Chris Stapleton away down the wing and his cross found Mealor in front of goal but he fired straight into the gloves of Studley. A free kick then saw Aston keeper Liam Smith loft the ball into the box where the home keeper, a defender and Stapleton all went up together to challenge, the ball came off one of them and rolled into the empty net but a raised flag denied the opener, but then on fourteen minutes Collins scored and this time it counted.
A corner floated in was too deep but Mealor retrieved and laid back to his striker partner who rifled home left footed inside the near post, the lead doubled just seconds later when Collins was played down the right channel where he got to the ball ahead of the advancing Studley to slot across the goal face into the far bottom corner. But before the side in blue had time to relax their hosts pulled one back immediately when hesitancy at the back allowed Bexley Andrew to turn and fire low into the bottom corner to give the home side some hope, they almost equalised soon after when a curling effort from Marcus Rivers from close range almost squirmed under the body of Smith but he gathered at the second attempt on his line.
Rivers then had another chance when he advanced down the right and beating his marker cut across the penalty area but from close range he powered his drive wildly over the crossbar, a poor corner at the other end saw Sarratt have ample time to clear but Elias Williams stole possession to head into the box and fire low towards the near post but another good save kept the scoreline intact. Another long ball down field then saw Stapleton in space down the right, he flashed his shot across goal and a yard or two wide of the upright, the striker then fed left back Ashley Clark down the wing where his cross flew through the six-yard box and despite numerous bodies trying to connect it rolled harmlessly away to safety. H/T: 2-1
It took almost ten minutes after the break for the first effort of note, Williams picking up a loose ball on the edge of the Sarratt box before crossing the white line to shoot which saw the home custodian having to block with his feet, Collins then released Clark down the wing where his cross was met in front of goal by the outstretched boot of a defender that could have gone anywhere but luckily looped over the top for a corner, followed closely by pull back across the eighteen yard line that Stapleton stepped over with Williams charging in behind but his stinging shot sailed over the top, the closest the home side came was a free kick out wide that was met by the head of John McGeachy but off balance he could only help it out for a goal kick.
The first penalty came on sixty-seven minutes when a long ball up to Mealor saw him brilliantly take the ball down and hold off two markers, he rolled the ball into the path of Clark who attacked the box until coming in from his right Lee Kelley bundled him off the ball giving the referee no option but to blow his whistle and point to the spot, Collins had no hesitation in taking responsibility and slotted home to complete his treble. Another cross into Mealor saw him again hold up well before laying off to Sam Austin who fired over the top, a free kick to the home side laid off to Luke Beaumont saw him try to lob over Smith but he only succeeded in chipping into his waiting gloves, then with twelve minutes left Clinton were awarded another penalty.
A ball downfield to Mealor saw him turn his marker and advance towards goal, as he approached the six-yard box the home skipper Ian McIntosh & Studley attempted to block but the striker went down and Clinton had another spot kick, substitute Joe Kittle was handed the ball which he duly despatched to kill of the game. The woodwork then saved the hosts as Mealor again fed Clark down the flank and his cross heading for Stapleton at the back of the box hit McIntosh to wrong foot the keeper, the ball rebounded off the post and bounced across the open goal mouth before eventually being cleared. Mealor was then unlucky as he connected brilliantly with a pass over the top and his first time attempted lob over Studley looked as if it was in until from nowhere the keeper threw himself backwards and got a hand to it to push around his post.
Sarratt were denied a late consolation when Rivers got in behind the Clinton defence and as he shaped up to pull the trigger a brilliant last gasp sliding tackle from centre half Billy Harrison took the ball off his foot, in added time a free kick awarded to the home side right out on their left in the corner was curled into the box and went straight in, confusion then rained as the referee blew his whistle but after consulting his assistant it was ruled out as the free kick had been indirect and no one got a touch before it went over the line. F/T: 1-4
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