Quarters beckon for battling Wallington

Red House Farm 0 Wallington 1 Kicks Leisure George Dobbins League Cup, Round Three

WALLINGTON advanced to the quarter-final of the league cup after a dogged display saw them come through against the Division Two high-fliers.

In an even game at Kingston Park, a Wallington shut-out again provided the foundation for a victory that bore much resemblance to last week’s triumph over Forest Hall.

Dan Thompson’s solitary first-half strike settled the tie and sent the Greens through to a last-eight date with either Stocksfield or Walker Central.

From the first whistle, it was evident to see why the home side has been faring so well this term as they knocked the ball around and attacked with the confidence of a team at the top of their respective league. Chris Straker had to be on red alert to gather two early strikes as they tried to seize the early initiative.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic, though, as John Paxton’s pace was causing distress for the home defence. Despite being unmarked, he could only direct a header wide from a Ben Fenwick free-kick.

After narrowly losing to Wallsend Town at the end of October, the Greens were determined not to bow out of another cup competition so soon and their determination was summed up by Al Sorrie, who, with a flying boot in his face, dived to head the ball away from danger.

In midfield, the partnership of Justin Millican, Chris Moffitt and Josh Gilmartin picked up from where they left last weekend and at times had the home side chasing shadows.

The only goal of the game came midway through the half and involved a sharp interchange between Millican and Gilmartin, who set Kyle Reardon away up the left-hand side. Battling his way forward and skipping two wild challenges, the full-back then politely moved aside to allow Thompson to spectacularly take over.

After beating one man and cutting inside, the striker caught the keeper out with a sharp shot that flew under another defender’s legs and into the far corner of the goal for Thompson’s 10th goal in eleven starts this season.

A response was expected and was indeed forthcoming but Wallington stood tall with all 11 men playing their part around the pitch, closing people down, covering each other and competing physically where need be.

With only five minutes gone in the second half, Red House Farm sacrificed their tricky right-winger for another striker as they wasted no time in emphasising their intentions.

The newly-betrothed Trevor Baston was locked in a second engagement in seven days as the home side constantly fed the ball out to their left-winger in an attempt to find an opening. Time and time again, though, the experience and class of Baston helped snuff out any clear path towards Straker’s goal.

The highly-impressive Sorrie was once again standing out, not just because of his flowing locks and certainly not because of his ’tache, but his dominating aerial ability against opponents twice his size and his last-ditch challenge that was timed just perfectly as a Red House striker was about to pull the trigger.

When The Greens did attack they did so with intelligence and skill that almost saw Paxton and then Reardon latch onto some good flowing moves. At the end of a marauding run, Sorrie was inches away for the second time in two weeks from claiming his first Wallington goal but his failure to connect with Paxton’s cross meant a nervy last 10 minutes.

A long throw was another weapon in the home side’s arsenal and was frequently proving to be a problem for the Wallington backline.

As the home side swarmed forward in numbers, they were leaving themselves exposed at the back and after a forceful run Featherstone became another culprit guilty of failing to seal the match when, at the second attempt, he blazed over from ten yards out.

The side, who prior to the game had scored in every game this season – 55 goals in 15 games – including a 1-0 triumph over Premier Division champions Ponteland in the previous round, kept pressing and were almost rewarded in the final few seconds.

A hopeful clearance evaded everyone and was latched onto by one of their numerous players now playing in a striking role but before he had a chance to make a clean connection, Straker was off his line in a flash to spread himself and keep his clean sheet intact.