Heartbreak As Khalsa Kill United’s Cup Dream (Video Now Online)
By Simon Ball-McQueen
A record crowd at Greenwich Avenue could not spur on Basford United to their first ever appearance in the FA Cup’s Third Qualifying Round.
Video highlights are now available to view online via the following link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMsuY4JUgyY
Losing out to Sporting Khalsa by a 3-2 scoreline, United’s first appearance in the Second Qualifying Round since 1953, ended in disappointment after an uncharacteristic trio of defensive lapses cost them dearly, as they conceded three goals for the first time this season.
Jermaine Hollis and Rob Darkin both made returns to the side after being rested for last Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Spalding United, whilst recent defensive signing Rhys Myers was cup-tied, after featuring for Sheffield FC in an earlier round.
Josh Thornton kept-hold of his starting place but forwards Blair Anderson and Cory Grantham were dropped to the bench, with young midfielder Gino Kelleher being given the nod to make his first start of the season.
Youngster Kofi Hellewell was also selected amongst the first team squad for the first time this campaign, as the young right-back featured on the bench, alongside Tyrell Shannon-Lewis and Kimani Smith. The one notable absentee was the injured forward Stuart Hendrie, who was forced to watch from the sidelines.
A cagey start from both sides saw little action in front of goal in the opening twenty minutes, with the visitors perhaps looking the more sprightly up-front but without really troubling Saul Deeney.
On 23 minutes Basford opened the scoring via Ben Hutchinson, after their first spell of real forward pressure in the game. The ball fell to the feet of the former Middlesbrough and Celtic man, who coolly fired home into the bottom- right corner of Khalsa’s net, after it flew through a mass of defending bodies trying to block the shot.
Eight minutes later a miscued defensive header from Josh Thornton set-up a Khalsa forward with a great chance to equalise but Deeney was on hand to get his body in the way and save his teammates blushes.
Four minutes before the break Deneey again had to be on his guard, once again coming out of his goal well to block and effort from Khalsa’s attack.
Three minutes later, a Rob McCormick half-chance almost fell in to the net after the defender snatched a toe on the ball in the middle of a goalmouth scramble but it was just scooped out of the air just in time, by the Khalsa keeper.
The second half began with Deeney having to make a good diving save to down low to his right to deny the visitors an early equaliser, on 47 minutes.
Ten minutes later Khalsa did level the game, after a Darkin headed clearance struck the shoulder of Craig Bannister, who was then able to pounce on the rebound ahead of the Basford defence, to slot the ball past Deeney.
United thought they had a penalty on 60 minutes only for the referee to change his mind after speaking to his assistant, who had seen an offside infringement and Khalsa then went on to take the lead on 63 minutes, when Tesfa Robinson’s powerful effort was blasted into the net from 10 yards out.
Deeney had to be at his best in the following exchanges, to prevent the visitors from extending their lead as Basford pushed forward, making another two fine stops.
Hutchinson’s looping header just cleared the Khalsa crossbar on 74 minutes before 60 seconds later, Reuben Wiggins-Thomas got on the end of a pinpoint Anderson cross to stab home an equaliser for United.
The shell-shocked visitors did regroup quickly however and almost regained the lead just a minute later but for a poor finish, which flew wildly over Deeney’s crossbar.
But it was Sporting who had the final say, when an 80th minute winner was headed in to the Basford net from close range and despite a valiant attempt for United to equalise in the final minutes of the tie, the final ball just failed to fall kindly for them, as the visitors hung on to progress to the next round.
Carruthers’ side now turn their attention back to league matters as they host the world’s oldest club, Sheffield FC at Greenwich Avenue on Tuesday evening (29th September), with a 7.45pm kick-off.