GALLERY: Wisbech Town see off brave St Ives in memorable FA Vase battle
WISBECH Town ensured boss Steve Appleby’s 1000th day in charge was a memorable one as they saw off a battling St Ives Town side in the FA Vase.
The Fenmen will travel to West Yorkshire to face Thackley in the third round after they clung on for a 2-1 victory over the Saints in tonight’s replay.
Appleby’s troops could have settled the tie on Saturday but an inspired goalkeeping display from Niall Conroy helped Ives secure a 2-2 draw after extra time.
However, the Saints stopper could do nothing to prevent tonight’s 2-1 defeat, which came courtesy of first-half goals from Deakan Napier and Dubi Ogbonna.
David Cobb thundered home a half volley on the stroke of half time to give the United Counties League leaders hope but the Fenmen withstood their second-half barrage.
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As they had done on Saturday, Wisbech started on the front foot at a rain-soaked Elgood’s Fenland Stadium. Chris Bacon’s half volley crept inches wide before Ogbonna’s deflected shot came back off the post.
But, unlike Saturday, the Fenmen managed to convert their early pressure into an early goal.
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When Napier’s corner found its way back to him, he cut in and lashed a shot which deflected off a defender and past Conroy.
The goal seemed to stir the visitors who suddenly began to pose a threat. Will Fordham’s free kick brought a fine save from Lea Jordan before Cobb and Fordham both hit the woodwork inside the same minute.
Just as an equaliser seemed inevitable, the Fenmen doubled their lead. Dubi Ogbonna, the subject of an audacious seven-day approach by the Saints this week, did his talking with his feet.
Wisbech’s top scorer collected a fine pass from the impressive Steven Reid before beating Conroy at his near post.
St Ives could easily have crumbled but instead they showed the spirit that has been behind their impressive league campaign. David Cobb hammered home Karl Gibb’s knock down from the edge of the box to grab the goal his performance deserved.
The 45th minute strike was a body blow for Wisbech and it signalled a long second half for the hosts.
Appleby’s side continued to pose a threat on the break but it was St Ives who swept forward in search of an equaliser.
Their pressure could have - and maybe should have - told in the 63rd minute as Wisbech’s defenders hacked the ball off the line three times in the space of 30 seconds.
Dan Newman’s header sparked chaos in the Wisbech box and although the ball appeared to have crossed the line, the goal was not given.
The visitors continued to push forward but the Fenmen back four, aided by the return of captain Paul Cousins, stood firm.
Substitute Rogan McGeorge was denied an injury-time breakaway goal by Conroy before the final whistle was eventually blown to the relief of the Fenmen faithful.
Wisbech: Jordan, Spafford, Johnson, Cousins, Cartwright (Fairweather, 65), Reid, Bacon (McGeorge, 81), Millson, D Ogbonna, Napier (Gale, 65), Lunn.
St Ives: Conroy, Lambert, Alsop, Newman, Fordham, Dean, D Cobb, Ellison, S Cobb (McDougald, 87), Gibbs, Stead.
• FOR FULL REACTION TO WISBECH TOWN’S FA VASE VICTORY, SEE FRIDAY’S WISBECH STANDARD.