Hedden volley earns Vase replay

Joseph Bulmer

Ilfracombe to replay Larkhall following old fashioned Marlborough Park cup scrap

ILFRACOMBE Town will get another chance to progress in the Carlsberg FA Vase when they travel to Larkhall Athletic tonight (Wednesday).

The two sides drew 1-1 in a “proper” windswept and mud-strewn cup tie at Marlborough Park on Saturday.

The ground staff worked wonders to get the pitch playable following the overnight downpour but despite a heavy and slippery surface, both teams produced some good football and committed tackles in an exciting and action packed match.

The Bluebirds started the brightest and it only took two minutes for them to register their first shot on target, right back Craig Allen breaking into the box and smashing a half volley that produced an equally outstanding one-handed save by the visiting goalkeeper.

‘Combe looked the more dangerous throughout the first half and although clear cut chances were few and far between, the pace of Shaun Lewis, Leon Taswell, Josh Heafield and Ryan Turner caused all sorts of problems for the travelling defence.

While the hosts were quick to close down any possession the Larks enjoyed in the first half, the visitors began to find some rhythm after the break as they looked to play in prolific strikers Nat Auckland and Tyler Sibbick at every opportunity.

However James Mayne and Neil Bettiss were having a dominating game in the centre of defence and were in no mood to let either striker add to their combined total of 39 goals already this season.

When Larkhall did manage to carve open a clear cut chance with five minutes left, Steve Oliver made a brilliant save to keep the scores level and take the game to extra time.

The Larks could sense victory in the extra period and continued to test the excellent Oliver, who could do little as Auckland expertly headed home a Liam Knight free kick.

But two minutes later, Oliver plucked the ball out of the top corner in an almost identical position and followed up with an outstanding one-on-one save to keep Ilfracombe in the tie.

Larkhall were left to rue those misses as ‘Combe dug deep to find a deserved equaliser. Scott Huxtable broke out from defence and laid it off to Taswell, who crossed for the unmarked Michael Hedden to volley home at the far post.

The equaliser sparked a frantic final 25 minutes but with both teams tiring from the energy sapping conditions neither could muster the winner they craved.

An away tie against Reading Town awaits the winner of tonight’s replay.

Barnstaple Town crashed out of the same competition on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat at Sydenhams Wessex League side Bournemouth.