Maldon and Tiptree famously know what it feels like to slay a giant in the FA Cup, as it is a year ago- all but two days- that they were knocking Leyton Orient out of the competition in the First Round. Here they were in the First Round once more, and League Two Morecambe arrived at Park Drive.
The visitors had the best of the opening exchanges without creating a clear-cut chance, but it was the Jammers who had the first real opportunity to open the scoring, Shomari Barnwell going one-on-one with Morecambe keeper Jake Turner, who just managed to get a hand to the shot. Ben McNamara was soon earning his goalkeeping stripes, too, a drive from Adam Phillips requiring a diving save in the nineteenth minute. The next save went to McNamara, too, this one less complex as Aaron Wilding didn’t really get enough power behind his shot to trouble the Jammers stopper.
The Shrimps remained on top, and the home defence had to work hard- but they again had their keeper to thank just before the half hour, McNamara out to block from Wilding as he bore down on goal.
The Jammers got their first corner with seven minutes remaining in the first half- a second chance in two minutes to put the ball into the Morecambe box after a free kick just beforehand- but for the second time only a defensive head was found by the ball. And then the breakthrough- but from our perspective, at the wrong end. An incisive through ball sent Carlos Mendes Gomes through on goal, and all McNamara was able to do was bring him down. Yellow card, penalty, and Adam Phillips sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.
The Jammers didn’t really begin to get a foothold in the match until midway through the second half, the first twenty minutes after the restart mirroring much of the first period, with Morecambe controlling much of the play without looking particularly threatening. In the seventieth minute a foul on Scott Kemp gave Maldon another chance to get the ball into the Shrimps box, but once more it came to naught, and the next chance went to the visitors, a centrally-located free kick thirty yards out. Phillips cleared the four man wall but bent the ball wide of the far post.
The next two chances came to the Jammers, as they finally began to find their own players in the opposition box. First a shot was charged down, then a header from Barnwell was flicked wide of the far post. Adam Vyse came on to reinforce the home forward line, and we had twelve minutes left for the hosts to find an equaliser. Vyse was quickly into the action, firing wide from just inside the box.
Substitute Cole Stockton should perhaps have doubled the visitors advantage eight minutes from time, heading wide with the goal gaping, and the next chance also came to Morecambe, a cross-shot from Phillips flying past the back post. Two minutes remained, and the visiting keeper really hadn’t been tested; the Jammers had worked hard and competed well, but hadn’t been allowed to show their customary flair in front of goal. Four minutes were added, and with ten seconds remaining the hosts got a free kick thirty five yards out for a push on Vyse. Could they? They couldn’t- and Morecambe move into the Second Round.
Cray Valley PM had already despatched a National League side, Maidenhead United, from this competition- so we’re going to facetiously suggest that they wouldn’t have been at all worried by having to travel to ‘lowly’ Havant & Waterlooville of National League South!
The Millers perhaps had the best of the opening exchanges, but they fell behind on eighteen minutes as Bedsente Gomis headed home at the back post. They didn’t falter, and had a penalty appeal turned down before Ade Adeyemo fired over from six yards, set up by Ade Yusuff, but half time arrived with the scoreline unchanged. The second half was fifteen minutes in before any action of note, but when it came it was a boost for the visitors, the Hawks going down to ten men after a red card. Could they take advantage?
Sadly they couldn’t. There was no lack of endeavour, what looked a clear penalty denied, and a strike against the woodwork from Matt Warren, but despite their efforts the breakthrough just couldn’t, wouldn’t arrive.
Congratulations to both of our sides on their performances throughout their cup runs- and to Bishop's Stortford, whose endeavours ended yesterday. But remember, we still have a representative in the Second Round draw, as Canvey Island carry our hopes forward.
Headline image, taken at Maldon and Tiptree, courtesy of Focus Rigging and Scaffolding via Twitter.