MATCH REPORT: SHEFFIELD FC VS SPALDING UNITED - FA TROPHY
Word by Alfie Dickin
Sheffield FC secured their place in the next round of the Isuzu FA Trophy on Sunday after a 1-1 draw with Spalding United at the MEPS International Home of Football was decided by two Jordan Pierrepont saves in the penalty shoot-out.
Club came into this fixture unbeaten on home turf so far this season and remained so after the final whistle.
A first-half strike by Tulips attacker Jordan Graham and a 53rd-minute header by Club centre-back Alfie Smith left the game poised for a penalty shoot-out, where Sheffield came out 4-3 winners.
Sheffield were quickest out of the blocks in the match, as two chances in quick succession went begging: Luke Mangham took advantage of some fleet-footed skill by debutant Tavonga Kuleya as he latched onto the end of the Doncaster Rovers loanee’s cross in the seventh minute - but a wall of multiple Tulips defenders blocked the shot. Only moments later, Jamie Yates fizzed in a cross from the right that Luke Aldrich could only steer agonisingly over the bar.
The visitors saw the ball in the back of the net in the 17th minute but were denied by the referee as he called for a foul on Pierrepont.
Jordan Graham eventually broke the deadlock for Spalding as he muscled past his defender in the 30th minute and found room to manoeuvre in the left half-space, where he struck hard and low across Pierrepont and into the back of the net.
It took until the second period for Club to get firing again. Smith brought Sheffield back into the tie on the 53-minute mark, as a return delivery by Yates from an overhit corner found the defender in space to head home with aplomb in a crowded box.
The best chances for a winner came in quick succession in the 74th minute, as Benni Ndlovu almost saw the ball in the net from the edge of the box, as he connected sweetly with a rebound on the left side, but it curved just beyond the post. Substitute Marc Newsham then found himself in a remarkably similar position on the opposite flank, couldn’t direct the ball goalwards through the sea of defenders in front of him.
Ultimately, the game was decided from the spot, as goals from Newsham, Aldrich, Ndlovu, and Alfie Raw and two impressive stops from Pierrepont were enough to see Club cut through the Tulips.
Ryan Cresswell's men will look to continue their run in the trophy when they face Hanley Town on 26 September in the next round of the competition. League action returns next week as Sheffield face Liversedge on the road.
Sheffield FC: 1. Pierrepont, 2. Yates, 3. Coleman, 4. Raw, 5. Smith, 6. Watson, 7. Kuleya, 8. Cutts, 9. Mangham, 10. Aldrich, 11. Ndlovu.
Subs: 12. Newsham, 13. Hall, 14. Morrison, 15. Burns.
Spalding United: 1. Breeden, 2. Draper, 3. Warburton, 4. Freeman, 5. Stainfield, 6. Cartwright, 7. Barker, 8. Walker, 9. Clifton, 10. Graham, 11. Hilliard.
Subs: 12. Sweeney, 14. Curtis, 15. Carvalho, 16. Morley, 17. Sandy.