THERE were mixed fortunes for Southern Premier Central sides Alvechurch, Redditch United, Bromsgrove Sporting and Stratford Town in Tuesday’s FA Cup first qualifying round ties.
Ian Long’s Alvechurch netted £2,250 in prize money thanks to a hard-fought 2-0 victory at lower-ranked Shifnal Town, whilst Stratford secured a superb 2-1 comeback victory at much-fancied divisional rivals Bromsgrove Sporting.
However, Redditch United’s miserable recent record of early FA Cup exits – in particular at the hands of sides from lower divisions – continued as they were dumped out 3-2 at Hanley Town.
Southern League Division One South’s Evesham United impressed in a 2-0 win at Daventry Town.
Redditch fell behind in the first half to a fine Kieran Brown goal in the 41st minute and were left with a mountain to climb when striker Jack Storer’s unfortunate habit of collecting red cards continued as he was dismissed at half-time following a dressing room altercation with Josh Beaumont, who was booked.
However, Matt Clarke’s men showed great resilience at their North West Counties League Premier Division opponents and led 2-1 by midway through the second half thanks to Tom Rankin’s penalty and a fine free kick from Brandon Horton.
The Potteries side were not done though and drew level eight minutes from time before sealing victory three minutes later with a penalty converted by 40-year-old former Stoke City ace Ricardo Fuller.
Alvechurch, whose league campaign started in disappointing fashion with a 5-1 defeat at Hitchin Town on Saturday, bounced back in style to see off West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division side Shifnal in Shropshire.
Alvechurch were without Zac Foster, who left the club with immediate effect following a first half incident with home supporters in Saturday’s fixture which led to his sending-off.
However, Long was able to hand a full debut to 19-year-old defensive midfielder Jack Birch, who was recently released by Aston Villa after spending ten years at Villa Park, including signing a professional deal last year.
Alvechurch were pushed all the way by a talented home side who looked too good for the level they play at – particularly in the second half – but two sublime finishes by striker Jake Wakeling proved the difference for the visitors as they booked their place in Friday’s draw.
Stratford found themselves 1-0 down at the break at Bromsgrove Sporting’s Victoria Ground and could easily have been further adrift than Courtney Richards’ 45th-minute strike into the far corner.
However, Paul Davis’ men were revitalised after half-time and Ash Sammons and Leam Howards both went close before Will Grocott lashed home the equaliser just before the hour mark.
There was sheer joy for the visitors three minutes from time when Grocott netted with another neat finish to seal a victory which built perfectly on Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Kings Langley in the league opener.
On Saturday, moments after Grocott had seen a header cleared off the line, Tony Pendred raced clear to put the visitors ahead on 64 minutes.
However, substitute Kynan Isaac hauled the hosts level three minutes later before Enoch Andoh was fouled in the box and Grocott stroked home the resulting penalty to bag the winner eight minutes from time.
Evesham United made the perfect response to Saturday’s below-par display in which they were beaten 3-0 by visitors Sholing.
It was a frustrating Southern League Division One South opener for the Robins, for whom Josh Hunt saw a late penalty saved, but Neil Hunt’s men hit back in style with a 2-0 victory at Daventry Town – who play at the equivalent level to United.
The Robins took a 25th-minute lead when Jamie Lucas headed home from a free kick and – two minutes after the hosts had struck the bar – Evesham sealed their progress on 73 minutes thanks to Aaron Basford’s strike.
United now turn their attentions to more cup action on Saturday when they host Biggleswade Town in the FA Trophy first qualifying round.