SOLE SURVIVOR

Hebburn Town 0 West Auckland Town 2 – Buildbase FA Vase fifth round

It may not have been pretty, but it was damned effective.  There are many adjectives to describe West Auckland’s performance in this all-Ebac Northern League Vase tie.

Dogged, determined, workmanlike, strong, professional.  They also showed a greater will to win.

It took them almost 20 minutes to settle down – thanks to their opening goal, when a dangerous cross by Adam Burnicle was miscued into his own net by Jack Donaghy.

Up until then, there wasn’t much shape or pattern to the match and both teams had struggled to come to terms with a strong, gusting wind.  Mind you, neither team helped themselves, with them both playing too many high, long balls.

The one player who had more time and patience than anyone else was West midfielder Alex Francis.

My half-time scribbles were:  Poor opening 10 minutes.  West gradually working themselves into the game.  By half-time they’ve asserted themselves on the tie.  Deservedly in front.  Hebburn attacks sporadic and lacking real threat – not giving their fans much to cheer.

The pivotal goal that effectively sealed the win for West came in the 52nd minute.  By some way, it was the best football of the 90.  A deft touch by David Dowson got the ball to Amar Purewal and his first touch – equally deft – allowed him to waltz past the Hebburn defence before calmly slotting it past Andrew Jennison to seal an elegant move with an elegant goal.

With just over 15 minutes to go, Hebburn finally woke from their slumbers and put together some attacks.

West keeper Shane Bland didn’t have too many top saves to make during the match – the best one came in the 77th minute when Hebburn’s Michael Richardson hit a 25-yarder that dipped, forcing Bland to tip it over the bar.  In added time Hebburn’s Louis Storey had their final shot, but that too was pushed out by Bland.

The victory means that West Auckland are the last Northern League team in the Vase.   They’ve got a home tie against Chertsey Town FC in the quarter finals in two weeks’ time.

And finally, Hebburn will be rueing their day.  They didn’t play well and they squandered the chance to get within a couple of games of reaching Wembley.  It was also a great opportunity missed to impress an impressive crowd of more than 1,300 spectators.

Mike Snowdon