Sheffield FC have progressed to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup after they triumphed in a 3-2 win against Shepshed Dynamo at The Coach and Horses Stadium.
Jamie Hadfield, Matt Roney and Joel Purkiss netted for Sheffield whilst Danny Hind and Adam Vasey provided goals for the visitors.
Sheffield FC required a replay to overcome Basford FC in the Preliminary round but Mick Wadsworth’s men did the job at the first time of asking as they put on a fine display in front of a home crowd of over 200 spectators.
A handful of Shepshed’s faithful fans made the 50 mile trip up North from Leicestershire and provided most of the entertainment for the opening quarter of the game with an array of songs and chants in an impressive attempt to provide their team with the extra man.
But it was Sheffield who took the lead on the 35th headed home from close range.
Sheffield could have taken the lead twice only minutes before the opening goal had it not been for the outstanding reflexes of Dynamo keeper Ryan Thacker who denied James Gregory the chance of scoring by tipping the wingers’ headed attempt over the bar on the half hour mark.
A few moments later Shepshed’s number one was called into action again when the ball fell to the feet of Sheffield’s striker Jahmal Smith who picked his spot and attempted to curl the ball into the corner of the net with a fine strike, but Thacker dived brilliantly to keep his side level.
It was third time lucky for the home side, as they scored from a corner taken by Joel Purkiss, the Dynamo defence failed to clear their lines and the ball was played back out to the number ten, who delivered the perfect cross for Hadfield, who rose tall to head the ball past Thacker who had no option this time other than to pic the ball out of the net.
The game could have had a completely different outcome as centre back Brandon Cardwell was fortunate to stay on the pitch. Cardwell who had committed a foul only a minute earlier mis-judged the flight of a ball which left Dynamo striker Adam Vasey through on goal. Cardwell worked hard to track back and make the tackle on Vasey but took out the striker as well as the ball as he attempted to amend his initial mistake. Referee Robert Sherwood played the advantage and despite the jeers of ‘off, off’ from the travelling supporters the official’s final decision was to give Cardwell a final warning and nothing else.
Shepshed have struggled this season in all competitions, and have only won one of their opening seven games of their Midlands Premier Division season. But their fans did not have to wait long to start singing again as they equalised almost instantly after conceding.
A series of mistakes from the Sheffield defence cost them their lead after Elliot Simpson was caught napping in possession, Shepshed then pounced on one of their only opportunities of the first half as goalkeeper Jack Ward and his defence failed to gather a low cross from the left wing which found its way to Danny Hind who placed the ball into the empty net.
Sheffield are undefeated at home in the league this year and their second half performance showed why they have won three out of three at The Coach and Horses Stadium. They showed fine displays of passing and long balls to the wings which the Shepshed defence were struggling to deal with.
It didn’t take long for the home side to start dominating play and were pulling the strings in midfield, and four minutes into the second half they regained the lead through winger Matt Roney.
Roney had terrorised the defence throughout the first half and worked his socks off as he continuously beat his marker and provided deadly crosses for his strikers. And his hard work paid off as a deflected shot from Captain Richard Stirrup fell into Roney’s path as he slotted home a deserved goal. Although there were calls for offside from Dynamo manager Jim Wynne and his bench the flag stayed down and Roney got his name on the score sheet with a man of the match display.
The third goal of the day for Sheffield was inevitable as they pushed forward and threatened the Shepshed goal with attack after attack. A strong tackle from Max Pemberton led to a killer counter attack from Sheffield who stormed into the opposition half through substitute Jack Hargreaves, who executed a fine through ball into the path of Purkiss who composed himself, and netted home third for the home side.
Sheffield have been agonisingly close to reaching the First Round of the competition in recent years and with a two goal lead the home support could start dreaming that this could be the year they make it.
The Shepshed faithful refused to be kept quiet and sang on with louder vocals despite watching their team on the verge of elimination at the second hurdle of the competition. With ten minutes to go Dynamo seemed to step up a new gear, no doubt down to the continuous support coming from the away fans, and with three minutes to go, Adam Vasey lowered the deficit as he pounced on the loose ball spilled forward from Callum Thompson’s initial shot.
But despite a late rally from Dynamo it was too little too late as Sheffield held on to possession for the dying moments of the game and ensure their home streak continued.
It was a result that Sheffield truly deserved and although there are still three more games until the First Round of the FA Cup and a long way to go for Sheffield, they will be quietly confident that this is the year they make it through qualification.