The Bucks were bundled out of the Emirates FA Cup by Evostik
League leaders Warrington Town in a display where they failed to put the home
side under any real pressure until the game was effectively decided.
Gavin Cowan made four team changes, with Steph Morley and
Amari Morgan-Smith restored to fitness and also the starting eleven. The early
stages of the game were cagey. Warrington looked to use the early ball to utilise
former Buck Tony Gray’s ‘little and large’ partnership with Bohan Dixon, whilst
the Bucks closest efforts came from John McAtee; he twice put shots wide when
finding space in the penalty area, though neither was a clear opportunity.
Winger Jack Mackreth started to become a bigger influence on
the game, giving Morley a testing time down the home side’s right-hand side, with
the Bucks not creating much to test Tony McMillan, aside from a James McQuilkin
shot from distance held comfortably.
Just before half-time. McQuilkin was involved in a nasty
incident, home full-back Alex Whittle using unnecessary force in a challenge
which saw the Bucks midfielder thumped against the perimeter boards, taking a blow
to the head. The Bucks collectively took issue with Whittle, and after the
flashpoint died down referee Richard Aspinall booked the Warrington man. He also
cautioned Theo Streete for what he presumably saw as Streete being too eager to
stand up for his own team-mate.
McQuilkin was able to continue, but that moment provided a
momentum shift; the home side won a corner in first-half injury time, and
although initially dealt with they were able to return the ball from the right
where Dixon leapt highest to connect and loop a back-post header back over Max
Bramley and into the far corner.
HALF TIME: Warrington Town 1 AFC Telford United 0
The Bucks knew they needed to pick up the pace in the second
half, with no second chances available in the Cup. They appeared more positive in
the opening 10 minutes of the half, but again with no real end product. Gray
was frequently the outlet for Warrington, and the wily striker got behind the
Bucks just before the hour, Ross White’s superb interception stealing a chance
from Dixon. The visitors were trying to find Daniel Udoh, but the ten-goal top
scorer was too frequently isolated or having to drop deep rather than get
behind the home defence.
On 64 minutes, the tie was effectively sealed. Warrington’s
Robbie Evans, a midfield dynamo, burst forward to win a corner on the left; the
Bucks didn’t clear it effectively, and when the ball found Evans’ midfield partner
Ben Garrity around the penalty spot he somehow was able to wriggle free of a
crowd of Bucks to turn and beat Bramley to his left. Collectively the Bucks’
heads dropped a little, facing an exit at the hands of a lower league side.
Cowan rang the changes, withdrawing McQuilkin and McAtee for
Adam Dawson and Darryl Knights. That, and the prospect of an inglorious defeat,
sparked the Bucks’ best spell of the afternoon. Udoh tried his luck from
distance, sending a shot narrowly wide, and minutes later he was found at the
back post; however, his header went straight into the clutches of keeper Tony
Morgan-Smith made way for Andre Brown and the visitors’
efforts to get a goal back became more frantic and frenetic, using the width
provided by Dawson wherever possible. On 86 minutes the Bucks had appeals for a
goal dismissed as a spinning ball in the box was turned goalwards, though in
truth they lacked real conviction. Jon Royle then shot wide from 20 yards,
whilst a Ross White cross went too close to McMillan, and was claimed easily.
Royle was involved again when winning a header in the box, providing a chance
for Knights to shoot, but shoot wide of the target. Eventually the pressure
told when, already into injury time. McMillan spilled a catch from a corner
when he appeared to have matter under control, and in the resulting scramble
Daniel Udoh poked the ball home from within the six-yard box.
It wasn’t to be the Bucks’ last effort on goal, but neither
was it to prove to be a catalyst for a dramatic and perhaps undeserved late
equaliser. Ross White forced McMillan to save his dipping volleyed effort from
20 yards and then, after Dawson had seen a shot deflected wide for a corner,
keeper Bramley hared upfield to join the last desperate push for a goal. It
didn’t come, and as Warrington cleared to the Bucks’ half a look at the watch
from the referee signalled that the game was up, and the Bucks were out.
The visitors despondently applauded their followers as the
home side celebrated their progression to the fourth qualifying round. To say
the Bucks performance was flat would be to take credit from the home side, who aren’t
top of their division without good reason. Whether they raised their game on
the day is something that’s hard to judge, but the Gavin Cowan’s side didn’t
match them, and as has been proven time after time in this famous competition,
upsets happen because it’s all about who is better on the day. The Bucks won’t
be the last team to fall victim to opponents to a team from a lower division,
but that doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow, for anyone.Warrington: McMillan, Duggan, Whittle (Hughes 65), Garrity,
Roberts (c), Raven, Mackreth, Evans, Gray (Amis 81), Dixon (George 84), Kirby.
Unused substitutes: Beeley, Benjamin, Carden, Speare (gk).
Scorers: Dixon (45), Garrity (64)
Bookings: Whittle, Roberts, Mackreth.
GALLERY: Club photographer Tim Roberts' match gallery can be found on Flickr >>> click link