14 September 2014

Truro City 0 v Larkhall 2 (Report from Larkhall Athletic)

The Larks pulled off another sensational FA Cup victory away from home today, this time against higher-level opponents in Truro City of the Southern League Premier. It was a somewhat depleted squad who made the long trip down to Cornwall. Luke Bryan and Brad Norris were ruled out through injury and in their absence Tyler Sibbick took on a lone striker role. Alex Shaftoe continued in goal and notched up a second clean sheet in a week. Absences notwithstanding, the Larks took the game to the home side, who began as favourites. From the start our defence looked very assured, and Ollie Price won every header he went up for as well as a fair number of tackles. The game was played at a slower pace than others we've experienced of late and for a while it didn't have the competitive edge you'd expect from a cup tie. Although there wasn't all that much venom in our attacks early on, Tyler was doing a great job of holding the ball up and there was plenty of decent possession on show. We were winning lots of throw-ins in the early stages and thanks to some neat play from Scott Lye and Jamie Lyons in midfield we looked fairly comfortable in the first 10 minutes or so. With ex-Premier League and Jamaican international striker Barry Hayles heading up their attack Truro started to build some momentum after a while and it took an excellent clearance from Jake Gardner to deny them when they were through on goal. For our part, real chances were infrequent although Jamie had a punt on a loose ball that went wide. A better opportunity offered itself shortly afterwards when a good run by Gards down the right led to a corner from a save from the Truro keeper; Tyler's header off the corner went just wide. After 20 minutes of play it was the home keeper who had had the most to do, but then Truro kicked up a gear. A fantastic tackle from Luke Scott and some great tracking back from Ben Horan dealt with the threat and luckily for us Truro's first shot on goal was fired beyond the far post. They kept attacking and Alex pulled off a good save from a corner. At the other end, Scott and Ross Lye held the ball up for a corner following some great play from Gards and Tyler. On the whole, though, Truro were edging the middle period of the half: we had to work hard to keep them out and when we did get forward we met the offside trap. Just when we thought the first half would end 0-0 we won a free kick near the Truro area. Jamie fired into the box, Tyler's attempt hit the post and the Truro keeper spilled the ball. It was anyone's guess who would get to it first but unexpectedly it was centre-half Dan Jones who clipped it in to give us the lead just on the half-time whistle. The second half was played at a higher pace than the first and despite some nice possession football from the Larks in and around the Truro area the attacking momentum was more with the home side early on. Alex punched clear a Truro strike and then we broke clear, with Tyler showing excellent strength on the ball to feed Ross, whose shot didn't unduly trouble Kyle Moore in the Truro goal. Tyler was a constant menace, however, and Scotty too showed great determination in holding the ball up near the goal for another corner. The game was really starting to come alive at this stage and Alex did well to throw himself in the path of a strike from Truro, which was quickly followed by a shot that hit the side netting. Man of the match Ollie made some decisive interventions to keep them at bay, and once again they were denied by a lack of accuracy when one of their forwards found space enough for a strike. The Larks were in a fantastic rhythm by now, and robust work in midfield gave Ross and Tyler the time to keep the ball out of danger. The last real chance from the home side was a fierce strike that thumped off the bar, followed by another save from Alex. The finale was yet to come. After a scramble in our goalmouth that Truro somehow failed to exploit, Tyler picked up the ball and ran strongly with it towards the home goal. Rob Hobbs collected the ball just outside the area, found some space and blasted it home to double our lead with less than 10 minutes to play. Truro did their best to pull one back but Ollie and Ben were resolute in defence and Alex made a good catch under pressure to preserve the 2-0 lead. For the final stages of the game sub Joe Tumelty again displayed sufficient skill and strength to hold the ball up and we kept the advantage till the very end. This was another fine team performance. The Larks looked well-organised and as confident as you'd expect for a side that had just won the last 7 out of 8 league and cup fixtures. With the current form we look forward to the 2nd Qualifying Round draw on Monday with eager anticipation. http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/larkhallathleticfc/s/match-centre-55279/0-2630853

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