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Kestrels make club history in FA Vase – Reading Today Online

Woodley United v Amersham Town Picture: Steve Smyth

WOODLEY UNITED made club history by progressing to the FA Vase second-round with a penalty shootout success against Virginia Water.

So in the week that Storm Babet wreaked havoc around the UK with social media showing the wind and deluge that left many grounds underwater or storm damaged, it was a blessing that this game survived.

The Thames Valley looked to have escaped the worst of the storm and, although the pitch at Stag Meadow was heavy from the rainfall, it was playable.

This looked to be a fascinating match-up in the FA Vase First Round. The hosts, sitting in a play-off position in the Combined Counties, were looking to make their first appearance in the second round of the competition for 48 years.

For the visitors, sitting mid table in the Combined Counties Division One table, reaching this round had already surpassed their best ever run in this competition so they would be looking to create more history in this fixture.

More rain was forecast for the afternoon but the game at least started dry. Virginia Water started the game quickly and had the first chance when Reece Gairy beat the offside trap and raced onto a through ball. His first touch was a little heavy which took him away from goal and allowed a defender to get back and block his effort.

In the 12th minute, a nice one two down the right flank from the hosts released Andrio Brandao whose pull back from the byline found Adam Sewell alone in the area but he blasted over from close range.

The waves of attacks continued from the step five side and they came close again minutes later when a Casey Boccaro free kick from the left was swung in deep towards the back post. Woodley keeper Killian Barrett misjudged the flight and it found its way to Sewell again who saw his header rebound off the base of the post and cleared away to safety.

Woodley had been forced onto the back foot early on but against the run of play, took the lead in the 23rd minute.

Tahir Carmichael produced a great tackle in midfield and sent the ball wide left to Connor Richardson. A burst of pace and good footwork took him clear of the defence and he whipped a lovely cross into the six yard box where Sid Gbla ran in to sidefoot past Matthew Jones in the home goal. 0-1

The hosts looked dangerous from set pieces and one swung into the six yard box caused panic in the visitors defence but was eventually headed clear by Dan Watkiss just under the crossbar.

Woodley had a rare attack soon after where a nice first time passing move between Connor Suckling and Rafa Brandao released Gbla. He was on his own and had two defenders for company but still managed to get a shot on target which was well saved by Jones low to his right.

The home side had the final two chances of a breathless half when first, Bocarro found space in the area for a shot but could only fire it straight at Barrett and then, just before half time, Bocarro hit another fierce drive which just deflected off a defender and over the bar.

The second half started off in a similar fashion with the hosts having the majority of the play. The rain began to come down which made the surface more slippery.

In the 53rd minute the home side levelled when a Brandao corner from the right was flicked on and fell between Sewell and Gairy with the latter managing to poke the ball into the Woodley net.

At the other end, a lung busting run and a nice one two with Gbla gave Manny Adu Essah a chance to shoot inside the area but Jones managed to save his effort with his legs. Soon after a long throw from Watkiss fell to Nwokobia just inside the area but he fired over.

In the final chance in normal time, James Goodey, who impressed after coming on as a second half substitute, picked up the ball on the right and drifted in past two Woodley players but his attempt at a curler went well wide.

After eight minutes of time added on in which both sides desperately searched for the winner, the referee blew the full time whistle and the match was to be decided by penalties.

Woodley took the penalty shootout 4-3 with Virginia Water missing their third and fifth penalties, one a superb save from Barrett, and Woodley only missing their fourth to spark jubilant scenes from all involved with the visitors.

Report by Dave Read @wanderintractor

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