After a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Sheringham earlier in the season the home side would be looking for revenge against the high-flying Shannocks. However their optimism may have been short -lived as a patched -up side due to injuries and player availability ,was further weakened when charismatic goalkeeper Elvijs Putnins failed a late fitness test with a shoulder injury . Youth team goalkeeper Fenn Nicholls was called up to replace the big Latvian ‘keeper. The Shannocks included a couple of former bloaters in Billy Wenn and Seamus Bobby with former ‘keeper Connor Milligan, presumably injured.
The home side were missing a few but it also looked like the visitors were also not at full strength. The Wellesley pitch looked neglected after a few months of inactivity and the lack of precipitation made for a tricky playing surface.
The visitors were the first to strike when the busy Crosbie fired a shot over but Baker responded when he hit a shot just over the bar for the home side . Young goalkeeper Nicholls was called into action as he palmed away a dangerous cross into the Bloaters ‘ penalty area. Connor Delaney then had a good chance but his effort was wide of the target. The Bloaters were repelling any attacks the visito rs could muster with Barnes looking back to his best after a series of injuries. In the twentieth minute a near post corner by McAvoy was headed goalwards and palmed away by Jackson only for Baker to react quickest and head the ball in for the opening goal for the home side. Jamie Smith then powered through the visitors defence but was thwarted by a well-timed challenge and then ex-bloater Billy Wenn did really well to halt Baker in full flow as the home strikers began to cause problems for the visitors defence. Nicholls saved another shot as the visitors had a decent spell of possession but the home side took a well-deserved lead into the half-time break.
HT Great Yarmouth 1 Sheringham 0
The visitors started the second half in determined mood and soon equalised when a shot from the right hit the post and Boyce followed up to score from close range. The visitors were rejuvenated by the goal and started to string a few passes together but they could have fallen behind when Delaney’s cross-shot hit the bar and then Delaney tried a lob from thirty five yards as ‘keeper Jackson was stranded outside his area. The Bloaters then began to threaten as Barnes and McCombe began to assert their authority, McCombe threaded a pass through to Philpott but his effort went past the post after being clean through the visitors defence. Baker then hit a fierce drive that Jackson tipped over his bar. Another Bloaters move saw Barnes’ effort saved by Jackson as the home side looked to finish the job in normal time. Dan Pinheiro replaced Philpott who was struggling with an injury and shortly after McAvoy had the ball in the net but was rightly chalked off for offside in the build up. With the seconds ticking away a lovely cross by McAvoy was headed over the bar by Baker and the chance to win it in normal time was gone as referee Matthewson called time and the game went straight to penalties.
Score after 90 minutes 1-1
A save by young ‘keeper Nicholls and a wild effort over the bar by the visitors ensured the home side were in the hat for the next round as they won the penalty shoot-out 4-3 . Sunday’s draw saw the bloaters matched against Anglian Comb. outfit Mundford , this game to be played this Saturday24th April, however bizarrely, this game will still be played behind closed doors.
FT Bloaters 1 Sheringham 1 home win penalties 4-3
Manager Rob McCombe added “After such a long break I was pleased with the intensity and execution of the game plan. I felt we had done enough to win in the 90 minutes and felt confident going into the penalty shoot-out with the players we have. Delighted for Fenn (goalkeeper) who had a terrific game.”
Bloaters: Nicholls, Atkins, McAvoy, Forbes, Urry, Barnes, Delaney, McCombe, Baker Philpott, Smith Subs : McAra, Pinheiro , Skoyles, Halliday, Dalton
FOR MATCH PHOTOS BY Steve Wood : GALLERY LINK BELOW