FA VASE: Fairford out despite second half rally

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Fairford Town were left to rue a disappointing first 20 minutes as Andover Town eventually came out 2-1 winners in the first round of the FA Vase, writes Josh Bird.

Andover, of the Wessex Premier Division, were fast out of the blocks and were 2-0 up after 17 minutes courtesy of goals from Connor Cocklin and Luke Dempsey.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side as Luke Cordery saw red for a lunge shortly before the interval.

Fairford goalkeeper Ben Mitchell kept the tie alive on 51 minutes when he pulled off a fine stop from a penalty from Cocklin.

The hosts then began to grow into the game, and just six minutes later Nathan Blackford hit the bar from the edge of the area.

Fairford were then awarded a spot kick of their own as striker Jason Milhench was brought down, with Lee Smith stepping up to score his 11th goal of the season.

The home side pressed for an equaliser late on but couldn’t force a replay leaving boss Gareth Davies ruing his side’s start to the game.

“The first half was so frustrating,” Davies said.

“We just didn’t perform to the level that we have been performing to of late.

“To give away two sloppy goals like we did was disappointing.

“You can’t really afford to give any team a two goal head start because it means its always going to be hard work.

“To lose Luke (Cordery) to a red card obviously didn’t help.”

And reflecting on the decision, Davies was frustrated by the call to reduce his team to ten men.

“I’ve seen yellows for those tackles and I’ve seen reds given so it’s one of those tricky ones.

“From our angle, it wasn’t a two-footed lunge, it was a little bit high and they were both going for the ball and to be fair Luke has taken the ball.

“But it’s deemed to be a red card and two minutes later one of their lads has done the same thing and he hasn’t even been booked.

“It’s frustrating when one is a red and ones not but we can’t dwell on it.”

Despite his annoyance at his side’s first half showing, he was pleased with the reaction he got from his players after the interval.

“I think the penny dropped at half time,” he said.

“Even with ten men, I thought we were much better in the second half, perhaps because the players felt they had nothing to lose.

“We put a shift in and I couldn’t fault the effort from the lads.

“We even had a chance at the end but couldn’t quite take it but it is what it is and we’ve just got to move on to the next game.”

Meanwhile, Wootton Bassett were in Hellenic League action this afternoon and went down 2-1 at Ardley United.

Steve Yeardley’s 18th  minute goal gave Bassett a half time lead.

An 85th minute strike from Jack Ross restored parity for the home side before a last minute screamer from Matt Cruse earned Ardley all three points as Bassett were condemned to a third straight reverse.

In Division One West, Shrivenham went down 3-0 to local rivals Purton in only their second league defeat of the campaign.