Woking move into playoff spot with draw at home to Welling

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Woking 2-2 Welling United
Vanarama Conference
Kingfield Stadium
4th April 2015

Woking moved a step closer to the playoffs with a point a home to a gutsy Welling United, who more than deserved their point, however it still leaves them lingering around the drop zone, six points from safety.

The Cards looked poised to pull off another of their familiar comeback victories when they turned over a half-time deficit to lead 2-1 with a Scott Rendell penalty and Yemi Odubade’s close-range strike, only for the relegation battlers to snatch a 2-2 draw with 13 minutes remaining.

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Woking feel behind early, in the 9th minute, when former loanee Ross Lafayette headed home. It was an all too familiar scene, with Woking again conceding from a set play this season.

Welling were good for their lead throughout the first half, but nearly conceded when a poor goal kick was knocked straight back through the defence and Scott Rendall was through on goal, only to see his attempted lob come to nothing. It was a let off for Welling, who managed to see the half out and take their lead in with them.

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In the second half Woking took the game to Welling and were rewarded when Gallagher tripped Odubade in the box. Rendall duly dispatched the penalty, although goalkeeper Henly will be disappointed he wasn’t able to pull of the save.

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It wasn’t long until Woking went on to take a 2-1 lead, with Odubade finishing well from close range after unselfish play inside the box from Rendell, after good work from Betsy and Goddard.

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However, Welling weren’t finished and after a corner was only half cleared, a quick thinking first time cross was headed home well by Tashan Adeyinka for 2-2.

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There was still time for more drama, after Rendall put the ball in the back of the net only to have the linesman’s flag wipe the strike out for offside.

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However, 2-2 was a fair reflection of what was an entertaining game. Both teams now have tough fixtures on Easter Monday, with Woking travelling to Dover and Welling with a home tie against Woking’s playoff rivals Eastleigh.

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North Ferriby United stun Wrexham to win The FA Carlsberg Trophy

North Ferriby United 3-3 Wrexham (North Ferriby win 5-4 on pens)
The FA Carlsberg Trophy Final
29th March 2015
Wembley Stadium

Goalkeeper Adam Nicklin was the penalty saving hero as North Ferriby United stunned Wrexham by coming back from two goals to win the FA Trophy on penalties.

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Louis Moult and Jay Harris strikes had given the Welsh side a commanding 2-0 lead by the hour mark and Wrexham never looked like relinquishing that lead, but Liam King’s penalty gave United hope and substitute Ryan Kendall equalised late in normal time.

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Kendall’s header then made it 3-2 before Moult’s stunning strike set up a shoot-out, which Ferriby won 5-4.

North Ferriby’s forays into the Wrexham half were rare, which made the final ten minutes of normal time all the more special. However, they dominated the rest of the game from that point and deserved their win.

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Jason St Juste, who opted to miss St Kitts and Nevis’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against the Turks and Caicos Islands so he could feature at Wembley, caused problems for the Wrexham defence early in the second half and Coughlin had to save at the winger’s feet before Blaine Hudson cleared the danger.

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Jennings should have made it 2-0 after he rounded Nicklin but his shot was cleared off the line.

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However, it wasn’t long before Jay Harris made it 2-0. The midfielder found himself unmarked on the right flank and hit a shot from the edge of the area that beat Nicklin at the near post.

With Wrexham in control North Ferriby were awarded a penalty with 15 minutes remaining, which captain King struck high into the roof of the net to give his side a lifeline.

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The goal gave Billy Heath’s side confidence. With four minutes left, St Juste’s cross from the left wing was met by Kendall to level the scores, and Coughlin then had to tip over Clarke’s curling effort in the final moments just to keep Wrexham alive into extra time.

North Ferriby started the additional period as they had finished the 90 minutes and the impressive St Juste’s deflected cross found Kendall, whose downward header beat Coughlin to give North Ferriby the lead for the first time.

Substitute Andy Bishop was denied by Hone’s perfectly timed tackle before Moult rescued Wrexham with a stunning strike two minutes from the end of extra time to take the game to penalties.

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Then in sudden death, Nicklin saved Steve Tomassen’s penalty to cap an incredible comeback by the East Yorkshire part-timers and secure their first FA Trophy.

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Braintree 1-0 Gateshead

Braintree 1-0 Gateshead
Vanarama Conference
Saturday 7th March 2015

Gateshead’s play-off hopes were dealt a hammer blow as a second-half penalty from Kenny Davis secured a valuable victory for Braintree Town at a sun-drenched Cressing Road. The Tynesiders face a mammoth task if they are to realise their promotion ambitions with games running out. This leaves Tuesday night’s game at home to Welling a must win game.

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All afternoon-long, both teams cancelled each other out, with chances few and far between for either side.

Half chances from Lynden Gooch and Alex Rodman were the highlight of Gateshead’s first 45 minutes, with nothing clear cut being created.

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Braintree didn’t register any shots on target and the teams went in at half time 0-0.

Braintree came out in the second half with a more attacking approach with Akinola playing a neat one-two with Mensah before smashing a right-footed effort against the crossbar.

The game’s defining moment came just in the 69th minute, as the lively Mensah was chopped down by left-back Matty Pattison. It was a momentary lapse for Pattison, who was one of Gateshead’s best performers on the day.

Davis stepped up to score the penalty, sending Adam Bartlett the wrong way.

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Gary Mills then made a triple substitution, bringing on Kevin Sainte-Luce, Adam Campbell and Jon Shaw, but the heed struggled again to create any chances, relying on long balls into the box in the hope of the strikers getting onto the knockdowns.

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Braintree deserved their win in the end, pretty much cementing their Conference status for another season, whilst Gateshead will hope other teams around them start to slip up, otherwise their promotion hopes will fade quickly.

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Ebbsfleet 2-2 Hemel Hempstead

Ebbsfleet 2-2 Hemel Hempstead
Vanarama Conference South
Saturday 28th February 2015

Both Ebbsfleet’s and Hemel Hempstead’s Vanarama Conference South promotion odds got a little longer on Saturday when drew 2-2 at Stonebridge Road.

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Goals from Danny Kedwell and the returning Matt Godden had turned the game on its head after Oliver Hawkins had given Hemel an early lead, but a brilliant free-kick from Tudors skipper Jordan Parkes meant it finished all square.

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Ebbsfleet had distributed a thousand free tickets to local schools and businesses and a big crowd was in place by 3pm, but the home faithful were silenced just four minutes into the game. Dennis Oli crossed from the left and Oli Hawkins was left unmarked to send a looping header over Edwards.

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Fleet stayed positive, though, with Kedwell levelling the scores on 12 minutes. Sean Shields burst down the left and delivered a low cross which Kedwell converted from inside the six-yard box.

Ebbsfleet took the lead five minutes before half time, with the visitors appealing for a foul on left-back Brown, Godden got away from the labouring Diarra on the right-hand side of the penalty area. Godden kept his cool and planted a low shot across Walker into the far corner.

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The visitors, having struck early in the first half, repeated the trick in the second. Kelvin Langmead tugged Hawkins back on the edge of the box and Parkes curled a sublime free-kick over the wall and into the top corner.

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It was a deserved equaliser and the momentum was starting to swing the way of the visitors. However, the scores remained at 2-2 and on reflection was a fair result between two teams who had approached the game trying to win all three points.

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Farnborough 2-2 Hemel Hempstead

Farnborough 2-2 Hemel Hempstead
Vanarama Conference South
Saturday 14th February 2015

Hemel Town had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw at lowly Farnborough and will be kicking themselves for a series of missed opportunities and some lapses at the back.

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Farnborough opened the scoring on 21 minutes when a long hopeful ball upfield was met by the impressive Reece Beckles; Moussa Diarra appeared to have won ball as the two players chased forward but Beckles forced the big defender into an error and he drove into the box and pushed the ball through the oncoming Laurie Walker’s legs.

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Hemel almost equalised when an excellent cross from King was just cleared from the head of Oliver Hawkins by keeper Dillon Barnes from right under the crossbar.

It was only a temporary respite, though, as Hemel piled forward and good work down the right saw Kabamba set up Jordan Parkes, who wasted no time in getting his shot away. Barnes appeared to have the effort covered but the ball bounced in front of him and hit his chest, setting up an easy tap in for the onrushing James Potton who fired home on 27 minutes.

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Both teams had a couple of half chances leading up to the break, with both keepers saving long range efforts easily. Hemel then forced a corner after 42 minutes and Parkes’ delivery caused confusion in Boro’s penalty area. Barnes tried to punch the ball away under challenge from Diarra and Hawkins, but he failed to make a proper connection, with the ball appearing to hit Diarra’s chest before bouncing onto Hawkins back and into the net. Hawkins wasn’t too sure himself who got the final touch.

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The second period saw the home side push forward more, and some of their approach play belied their lowly position in the table. Hemel always looked dangerous on the break, however and chances came and went. Midway through the second half Potton made an excellent break into the box, playing a quick one-two with Dennis Oli who went down under the challenge from Barnes but the referee waved away the visitors’ appeal for a penalty.

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Moments later, some good play by Farnborough saw Phil Page make a run in to the box before shooting from a tight angle. The effort deceived Walker somewhat, as he dived to his near post only to watch the ball skid past his outstretched foot and inside the far post to bring the scores level, just before the hour mark.

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Hemel continued to make and miss chances as the game drew to a close; Hawkins, Oli, Matty Harriott and Potton all failing to find the target, and there was another decent penalty claim when a Boro player appeared to block a shot with both hands, with referee well placed, but once again he waved play on.

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Sub Mo Sharif was causing an increasingly desperate defence problems, but it was Boro who could have nicked the game, when an excellent effort from Beckles seemed to heading for the top corner, with Walker superbly tipping the ball over the bar.

There was still time for Hawkins and Harriott to bring saves out of Barnes and, in the end, both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

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Ebbsfleet 2-0 Braintree

Ebbsfleet 2-0 Braintree
The FA Carlsberg Trophy
Tuesday 3rd February 2015

Ebbsfleet are through to the FA Trophy quarter-finals for the first time in six years after a battling victory over Braintree at the PHB Stadium on Tuesday night.

Danny Kedwell opened the scoring, eight minutes before half-time, after which the home side came under huge pressure from their Vanarama Conference visitors. But the Fleet dealt with everything Braintree could throw at them and Adam Cunnington’s late strike clinched a third successive victory over higher-ranked opposition in this Trophy run. Jamie Day’s side now travel to North Ferriby United, of Conference North, in the last-eight on Saturday knowing they are now just two wins from Wembley.

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Braintree’s first attempt on goal came from distance. Chez Isaac tried his luck from 35 yards and the ball was veering inside the right-hand post until Preston Edwards dived to turn it behind.

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The visitors were winning the midfield battle as some heavy touches by the men in red gifted them cheap possession.

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But after Kiernan had shot wide, the home side took a 37th-minute lead.

Cunnington did well to hold the ball up in the right-hand corner and when he fed Fish, the wing-back’s low cross was shovelled out into the six-yard box by Hamann and touched home by Kedwell.

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It was very nearly 2-0 at half-time as the home side started to play with confidence. Kiernan’s shot from the left beat Hamann but the goalkeeper was rescued by centre-half Alan Massey, who headed the ball off the line.

Isaac then drilled a free-kick straight at Edwards from 35 yards and the Iron set about pinning Fleet back into their own half. Every player in red, including strikers Kedwell and Cunnington, joined the defensive effort as the home side were really stretched.

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Braintree won a series of corners as the pressure kept mounting. One of them dropped on Simeon Akinola’s head and he thought he’d levelled the scores, only to look on in disbelief as Edwards dived low and somehow clawed the ball out of the bottom corner.

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The home faithful turned up the volume as time ticked away, knowing their side were under the cosh.

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And they were on their feet to salute a match-winning second goal in the 86th minute. Massey dawdled on the edge of his box and Cunnington pounced to roll the ball calmly past Hamann’s right hand.

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Braintree substitute Joe Maybanks twice went close at the death but Cunnington’s strike sealed the deal – and a trip to Humberside at the weekend.

Southport 0-1 Gateshead

Southport 0-1 Gateshead
Vanarama Conference
31st January 2015

Gateshead saw off a spirited Southport team to earn a vital three points and carry on the current unbeaten run. The win sees them climb to 11th in the table, but only three points off the playoff spots, whilst Southport edge closer to the relegation places.

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Gateshead started with a very intense pace and meaning to their game and the early pressure was rewarded when Rob Ramshaw saw an initial effort blocked, but the follow up strike was superb, curling a right foot shot from the left side of the box right into the far corner of the goal. It was nothing more than the visitors deserved.

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Southport nearly equalised later in the half when James Curtis cleared an Andy Parry effort off the line. The hosts were well in the game at this point and had many corners from which they were unable to take advantage from. If they were to score, it was set pieces that could be the door opener for them, having seen them defeat Woking back in December with a dominant display in the air from this Southport team. HT 0-1.

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The second half saw Southport have the majority of possession. However, they created very little from it. Their best chance produced a magnificent save from goalkeeper Adam Bartlett, after he tipped a Joyce effort around the post.

Given Gateshead’s lack of possession, it was they who created the better chances. Roberts had an excellent chance when he cut in from the right and fired across goal, only to see his effort deflected wide.

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Following that, Adam Campbell had a great chance for 0-2, but saw his 18 yard effort go agonisingly over the bar having just leaned back a little too much. An effort the on loan Newcastle striker would’ve been disappointed not to score from.

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But The Heed managed to see the game out for a 0-1 win, keeping their promotion dreams alive with a game or two in hand on the teams above them. Next they host Wrexham at home in a replay of the FA Trophy match, with an away tie awaiting in the quarter finals for the victor.

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