March Town 2,
Kirkley & Pakefield 1
THE Hares’ pint-size dynamo Ash Brand lashed two second half goals for a giant-killing win in the FA Cup against the Ridgeons Premier Division side at the GER on Saturday.
Brand, a prolific goalscorer for the club, looked unlikely to take any part in this tie when he was struggling with a hernia injury at the end of last month but there was certainly no trace of that as he showed the Kirkley defence a clean pair of heels on numerous occasions.
March were already facing a stiff task against Kirkley but without skipper Luke Pepper, Ben Hepworth, Stu Anderson, Gav Cooke and Kyle Nolan the omens did not look good at all. But manager Brett Whaley can now be pleased with the depth he has in his squad this season.
There was little between the two sides in the first half with both teams carving out limited opportunities. Ricky Goodale and James McDonagh had the best of the March chances without finding the target while at the other end Kirkley also had problems finding the target.
That all changed in the 42nd minute when the visitors’ full back Joe Bell hit a shot from 30 yards which sped into the top corner of the net leaving Lea Jordan no chance at all. It could have been worse a couple minutes later when only the legs of Jordan stopped a second Kirkley goal.
March started the second half very brightly and were close to an equaliser three times as Andy Wayte and Brand had the goal in their sights.
But it was a change in tactics that helped bring the March equaliser. Whaley switched to 4-4-2 with Brand in a more central role and it almost paid off immediately after 67 minutes when Wayte produced a good opening for Brand to finally find the net.
Soon after Adam Rothery hit the post and then with six minutes left Brand came up with a second goal when Jordan’s long distance kick was well met by the speedy Hare and he beat a defender before scoring.
Kirkley threw everything in search of an equaliser but March defended as their lives depended on it for a very good win.
A delighted Whaley said: “It was a thoroughly deserved win. You have to be delighted to beat a team from a higher division. There was little in it in the first half and the worry was we would panic after the break. But we played the more controlled football and that got us a foothold in the game.
“We changed the tactics from 4-5-1 after about an hour to get Ash more central and it paid off almost immediately with the equaliser. With all the players missing it shows we have a very strong squad this season and the headaches will start when they are all available again.”
March Town: Lea Jordan, Scott Davis, Lewis Cook, Adam Sutton, Grant Watson, Chris Lenton, James McDonagh, Ricky Goodale, Adam Rothery, Andy Wayte, Ash Brand. Subs used: Lloyd Johnson, Nathan Smith, Ben Lemmon.