Gedling Miners Welfare secured their passage into the third round of the Nottinghamshire Senior Cup and a first win in 8 in all competitions after they defeated Arnold Town on Tuesday night. A Jack Jepson strike shortly after the hour ensured Miners’ name was in the hat for the next round after a hard fought victory at Plains Road.
Hoping to put respective league forms behind them, both teams started frantically and immediately set about trying to gain the upper hand early on. Ross McCaughey exemplifying such mentality when his crunching tackle on Craig Binch, whilst fair, set the tone in what is always a hotly contested local derby.
The first noteworthy chance came in the 2nd minute. After finding fortune following a few ricochets, Jack Jepson’s snapshot fell kindly into the hands of away custodian Michael Ball via a deflection. At the other end the impressive Curtis Millward, deceiving Joe Meakin with a clever turn, tested Lance Walker in the home goal but the shot was easy pickings for the ‘keeper.
Chances came thick and fast in the early exchanges and the home side had the best chance to take an early lead after 8 minutes. After showing typical poise and skill, Aboubacar Sylla, starting brightly, skipped past Harshall Karle but, from an angle, his passed effort only found the side netting. 2 minutes later and the wide man had another good opportunity but, after evading 3 challenges, his shot was well saved by Ball.
To their credit, Arnold came to Plains Road in no mood to let their current league position determine the outcome of this one and began to trouble Gedling as the game progressed. Shortly before the quarter hour, Binch’s long ranged effort, on target, struck teammate Dillon Bird, much to the duo’s annoyance, and the ball sailed wide.
With an end-to-end feel, the bumper crowd at Plains Road were certainly in for an entertaining game and should have been rewarded with a goal after 17 minutes in what was the best chance of the half.
After Sylla drove down the wing, troubling Sam Freeman with his direct approach, his deep cross found the onrushing Dwayne Brown and the striker’s volley, superbly struck with venom, was matched by Ball who impressively tipped around for a corner. Shortly afterwards, and in a move that typified the opening 20 minutes, Binch registered his side’s best chance with an excellent effort from distance but Walker did brilliantly to tip over his crossbar.
As expected, in what is always a combative affair, the game turned feisty and both teams adapted a full blooded approach to the cause and referee Kevin Guise did well to prevent any early and unwanted cautions.
With 25 minutes played, Sylla, continuing to torment Freeman who struggled with the winger, floated a dangerous cross, again to the back stick, but Jordan Knight did well to deter Brown from getting anything on the end of it.
Defending resiliently, the visitors looked to Curtis Millward to play an orchestral role to prompt any attacking prowess. Just before the half hour, namesake Anthony found him with a delightful chip but the number 10’s header fell wide of the post. Prior to that, Luke Smith, retreating to thwart a counter attack, did wonderfully to block the striker’s effort on the ground after he was found by Tawanda Mushambi.
Experiencing difficulties in the league, neither side could afford to go out at this stage with both sets of players committed to ensuring their stay in the competition was a lengthy one. Jepson may have sent his side leading at the break but, after controlling well, he could only drag his effort wide as Ball ushered the ball to safety.
To conclude the half, Arnold’s favourable combination of Curtis Millward and Binch nearly paid dividends down the right but the latter’s effort, after cutting inside, sailed over his target.
Gedling came out the traps the quickest in the second half and, only 2 minutes after the restart, may have taken the lead. Sylla found the clever overlapping run of McCaughey and the full backs cross found Jimmy Spiers but he could only slice his hurried shot over.
The hosts remained the better side early in the second period and restricted Arnold, troublesome in the first half, to only limited opportunities. They started to find passes with more consistency and found space in key areas unopposed and, 16 minutes after the interval, they notched the go ahead goal.
After Sam Mellor capitalised on a loose pass by Knight, his pin-point pass, tempting Ball into committing, found the path of Jepson and the striker made no mistake in poking the ball past the ‘keeper with assured composure to give Gedling the lead.
2 minutes later and he may have doubled his tally for the evening and extended the scoreline further but, after skipping round Jordan Leeming’s challenge, his fierce strike was palmed away by Ball who did well to keep the deficit at one.
As the game ticked toward its close, Arnold continued to push looking for an arguably deserved equaliser. In the 71st minute, Grafaar Karim, a livewire following his introduction, pounced on a loose touch by Felix Hogg but the defender did wonderfully to prevent the substitute’s effort by reacting well to deflect the ball over. A minute later and Freeman redeemed his performance with an excellent last ditch tackle to halt Brown as he bared down on goal.
Whilst the score remained perilously close, the visitors always sensed they were in with a chance of taking the game the distance and possibly beyond and, 12 minutes from time, they had their best chance of the night to draw level.
After an innocuous ball was pumped forward by Kurt Hallam, a miscommunication between Walker and Brown, shoring up the defence after the injured Liam Corrigan had departed, gave James Wade the chance to pass home into an empty net. However, with forethought and brilliant anticipation, Hogg was on hand to clear the ball of the line and away from safety. An outstanding intervention by the defender who deservedly took the plaudits from his relieved colleagues.
In the final few stages, Arnold did all they can to salvage something from the affair and Walker, following a flurry of late chances, had to be on top form to ensure Gedling were to book their passage into the next round.
5 minutes from time, after good work from Binch out wide, his deft through ball found Karim and his shot trickled wide of the post. 3 minutes later and the visitors rued their luck once again.
This time, Karim turned provider and found the dangerous Curtis Millward who, after feigning to shoot with his right foot, smartly turned inside and whipped a vicious left-footed effort that smashed off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Deep into stoppage time and Millward must have thought he had sent the game beyond the 90 minutes but his powerful header, again from the supply of Binch, was smartly tipped around the post by Walker – who was superb in preserving his clean sheet – as the referee drew an end to a fantastic cup tie at Plains Road.
A much needed win for Gedling that recent performances have deserved and one that sees their Nottinghamshire Senior Cup run continue with their third round opponents to be decided in the coming weeks.