Slow-starting Romans come from behind to progress in Birmingham Vase

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FOOTBALL

Birmingham FA Saturday Vase, First Round
Alcester Town 5 (Malley 55, J.Corrigan 58, Brown 67, Smith 80, Curry 89)
Gornal Athletic 2 (Griffiths 8, Mundoma 46)
Report by Craig Gibbons

SLOW-STARTING Alcester Town came from 2-0 down to secure a 5-2 victory over Gornal Athletic and book their place in the next round of the Birmingham Vase.

A stunning save from Dan Handley denied Ryan Piggott from opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, but a minute later the West Midlands (Regional) League Division One visitors nosed themselves ahead when Nathan Griffiths headed home from close range.

Just a minute into the second period Gornal doubled their lead through Tanaka Mundoma and looked to be on course to dump last season’s semi-finalists out at the very first hurdle.

However, Wade Malley’s 55th-minute strike sparked the Romans comeback, with Jamie Corrigan bagging the equaliser three minutes later before Jake Brown put the hosts ahead in the 67th minute for the first time with an assured finish.

Second-half substitute Jamie Smith added the fourth ten minutes from time and then George Curry topped off the comeback nine minutes later.

And had it not been for wasteful finishing towards the end, the Romans should have run out even more comfortable winners.

But they had to do it the hard way at the Stratford Road Ground, and after just seven minutes they conceded a penalty when Terrance Morton cheaply brought down Kyle Peters.

Piggott took the spot-kick, but his powerful effort was superbly tipped onto the roof of the net by Handley.

However, just a minute later the visitors scored the opening goal of the game, with Griffiths capitalising on some poor handling by Handley to head home from a couple of yards out.

It took the hosts some time to get into the game, with their first shot coming in the 20th minute, but Malley’s left-footed effort from a tight angle flashed over the bar before Morton saw a curling effort from the edge of the area deflected just wide seven minutes later.

Gornal always looked a danger on the break and had two good chances just past the half-hour mark to double their lead, with Mundoma seeing a shot from a tight angle well saved by Handley in the 32nd minute before the Romans shot-stopper did well to deny Griffiths from notching his second goal of the game three minutes later.

The visitors started the second period from where they left off in the first, and they only needed a minute to double their advantage.

Some neat and free-flowing football allowed Barrow to find some space on the right-hand side of the box and pull the ball back to Mundoma, who had the easiest of finishes from eight yards out.

This seemed to spark the Romans into gear and nine minutes later they reduced the arrears when George Davis surged into the box before squaring to Malley to fire home from six yards out.

At this point, joint-boss Shaun Edwards brought on Smith and changed the Romans’ shape to a 4-3-3.

And the move seemed to pay huge dividends as Gornal struggled to cope with the extra attacking threat, with the hosts restoring parity in the 58th minute when Corrigan was on hand to tap home from point-blank range after Will Burrows spilled Malley’s initial shot.

Gornal’s heads seemed to drop at this point and matters were made worse two minutes later when injured goalkeeper Burrows had to be substituted.

With no spare goalkeeper on the bench, it was up to TJ Munthall to put on the gloves and take his place between the sticks.

And within eight minutes he was picking the ball out of his net when Brown found the bottom corner from inside the area after latching on to Smith’s cutback.

The Romans continued to lay siege on the Gornal goal and ten minutes from time they made it 4-2.

A raking ball over the top from Brown set Smith free on goal, and despite nearly losing his footing at the vital moment, the second-half substitute delicately passed the ball past the onrushing Munthall to all but seal Alcester’s place in the next round.

The final goal of the game arrived nine minutes later, as Gornal failed to clear their lines from Morton’s free-kick and the loose ball made its way to Curry whose clinical finish gave Munthall no chance.

A minute later Brown should have bagged his second and Alcester’s sixth goal of the afternoon when he was set free by Corrigan, but he could only guide his effort wide of the far post.

ROMANS: Dan Handley, Michael Mannion, Dylan Corrigan (Jamie Smith 55), Karl King, Toby Checketts (George Davis 11), Sean Bent, Wade Malley, Terrance Morton, Jamie Corrigan, Jake Brown, George Curry. Unused sub: Daniel Dineen.

GORNAL: Will Burrows (Jayquarn Mullings 74), Joe Finch (Tom Baker 59), Kyle Peter, Rhys Owen, TJ Munthall, Matt Martin, Tanaka Mundoma, Oliver Hartland (Declan Moore 75), Ryan Piggott, Shiekh Barrow, Nathan Griffiths. Unused sub: Kane Showell.