FA Vase: Wisbech Town 2, Dunston UTS 2 (aet)

Gavin Caney
Monday, January 23, 2012
11:55 AM

Wisbech Town’s dream of reaching a Wembley FA Vase final is still alive after the Fenmen played out an enthralling 2-2 draw with Dunston UTS.

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Steve Appleby’s side face a 400-mile round trip to Gateshead this Saturday after 120 minutes failed to separate two sides desperate for a place in the last 16.

Nick Davey’s 25th-minute goal gave Wisbech a half-time lead but second-half strikes from Andrew Bulford and Lee McAndrew looked to have ended the Fenmen’s dream.

However, Matt Lunn’s 83rd-minute equaliser ensured Appleby’s side forced a replay and kept their name in today’s draw.

The manager said: “The result was a fair one but I do feel like we’ve missed an opportunity because I thought we played well enough to win it.

“It’s great that we’re still in the competition at this stage and Dunston have proved they’re a decent side. What I’ll say to our lads is surely they can take the belief from today that they’re beatable. They are a good side and if we don’t perform in the replay they’ll beat us.

“But on today’s showing we can go up there and get a result and we’ll give it our best shot.”

The hosts nearly took the lead within 20 seconds as Chris Bacon’s vicious effort flew just over the bar.

The Fenmen continued to dominate early proceedings and it was Davey who gave Wisbech a deserved lead when he finished off a fine move in the 25th minute.

The fired-up Fenmen were looking solid in defence and even a tactical reshuffle, after centre-back Stacy Cartwright was forced to leave the field with a broken nose, failed to upset the Fenmen’s rhythm.

Physical Dunston were less impressive than many expected and almost went 2-0 down when Bacon fizzed a free-kick just wide.

But the visitors grew into the game after equalising in the 51st minute. Wisbech failed to defend a free-kick and Bulford bundled home from close range.

The northern visitors quickly realised that their best chance of grabbing a second would come from a set piece. At every opportunity they piled men forward and pumped free-kicks into the danger zone.

Michael Dixon and Bulford got in each other’s way with Dunston’s goalscorer heading wide when he should have done better.

Veteran centre-back Chris Swailes headed wide when he was unmarked before another free-kick proved Wisbech’s downfall.

McAndrew’s in-swinging centre from the left evaded everyone, including Fenmen ’keeper Ryan Rayner, to send the travelling supporters into raptures.

Dunston were 15 minutes from victory – with poor defending from set pieces appearing to have ended Wisbech’s dreams.

However, wideman Matt Lunn came to life and ripped through the Dunston defence to equalise just seven minutes later.

Dixon still had time to head harmlessly wide from six yards when he made a mess of Dunston’s best chance of the game from another set-piece.

Lunn, now with his tail up, beat a couple of men and forced Jonathan Carmichael to make a smart save in the dying seconds but neither side could find a winner.

Ollie Gale came within a whisker of putting Wisbech in front when he struck a post just 60 seconds into extra-time.

But as nerves began to filter around the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium, chances dried up.

Even after Dixon was sent off, for a second bookable offence, Appleby’s side failed to work a clear opening to wrap the tie up. The closest they came was when substitute Darren Jimson, seconds after coming on, controlled the ball with his chest before firing a left-footed half volley from 25 yards on the turn just wide.

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