FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Hereford Lads Club 2-5 Stone Old Alleynians
The Old Boys booked a spot in the second qualifying round of this prestigious competition with a comfortable away victory on Saturday afternoon. A brace from Jack Tomlinson and one each for Ian Whalley, Matt Fellows and Danny Heard was enough to see off the challenge of the hosts, who were competing in the Vase for the first time.
“I was delighted with this performance, especially considering our recent form and the long journey down to Hereford,” said Alleynians manager Matt Smith. “We changed the way we approached the game tactically, and everybody played well and showed the discipline and commitment we expect all over the pitch. Hopefully we can use this result as a platform to start getting some points on the board in the league.”
The Old Boys, who will take on Coventry Utd in the next round, got off to a flyer when Danny Heard’s third minute flick-on was met by Fellows, who played in Tomlinson for a cool 12-yard finish past the onrushing goalkeeper.
The lead was short-lived though, as the hosts capitalised on a gap in the Alleynians defence to level the scores after just ten minutes. Despite the equaliser, the hosts found it difficult to compete with the industry of the Old Boys, who again took the lead ten minutes before the interval. Adam Pope bundled through a challenge before teeing up Tomlinson, whose outstretched boot poked the ball beyond the Hereford goalkeeper for his second of the match.
The Old Boys started the second half on the back-foot and should have been pegged-back but for some woeful finishing on the part of the hosts, who spurned a number of chances to level things up. Ian Whalley, prospering in an unfamiliar midfield role, then nodded the Old Boys further ahead against the run of play. Whalley’s flick from a Pope set-piece found the Hereford ‘keeper wanting, and his header floated into an empty net. After four years without a goal, Whalley had his second in as many games.
The hosts showed some character to claw their way back into the game just minutes later following a scramble in the penalty area. The Old Boys failed to convincingly clear a corner, with the loose ball eventually dropping at the feet of a Hereford attacker who slammed home past Cameron Bliss from eight yards.
Any potential Alleynians nerves as the game entered its closing stages were then considerably eased as Fellows sprang forward in counter-attack and saw his heavily deflected shot from the edge of the box find the net, a just reward for the hard-working forward.
Skipper Danny Heard then put the result beyond doubt, expertly volleying home Whalley’s centre from eight yards, with the visitors noticeably tired.
Stone OA: Bliss, Bull, Heath, Smith, Taylor, Whalley, Mana’o (Arnold), Pope, Fellows, Tomlinson, Heard.