DCSIMG

Clarke in dreamland after late intervention seals fA Vase victory for HSA

Harry Halls takes on a Dereham Town defender during their FA Vase encounter. Halls scored HSA's opening goal from the penalty spot.

Harry Halls takes on a Dereham Town defender during their FA Vase encounter. Halls scored HSA's opening goal from the penalty spot.

FA VASE

SECOND ROUND

Haverhill Sports Association 2 (Halls pen 62, Clarke 90+3) Dereham Town 1 (Bussens 66)

SECOND ROUND

Haverhill Sports Association 2 (Halls pen 62, Clarke 90+3) Dereham Town 1 (Bussens 66)

by Steve Barton at The New Croft

A JUBILANT Matt Clarke certainly discovered on Saturday that truth can be stranger than fiction when his injury time volley maintained HSA’s remarkable run in this season’s FA Vase.

The striker has not played much for HSA this season after his job saw him relocate to Stockport in Greater Manchester, but his 93rd minute goal more than compensated for the 360 mile round trip he made to play in the match.

Clarke said: “That will go down as the best goal I have ever scored, the timing, everything.

“You probably couldn’t have written it any better.”

Just three minutes before his memorable intervention Clarke had seen his close range header clawed out by Dereham ‘keeper Andy Wilton, but he was not to be denied.

He said: “I jumped too early but I hoped I would get another chance and it couldn’t have been scripted any better.

“I think over the 90 minutes we were the better side.

“It is a brilliant day for the club.”

Dereham carved out the first real chance in the sixth minute when HSA centre half Ryan Geoghegan’s misdirected header put Shaun Bammant through, but ‘keeper Liam Cutts saved his close range volley.

Aaron Forshaw tested Wilton with a low 20-yarder before Dereham’s Nicky Howell did likewise from distance as the match remained on a knife edge.

Despite Dereham being two divisions higher than HSA and occupying a lofty position in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, there was nothing to separate the two sides in terms of quality or goals come half-time.

The second period was only three minutes old when the game’s first moment of controversy arrived.

HSA midfielder Luke Strutton’s superb diagonal pass put Ben Bradley through but his lob was saved by Wilton well outside his area.

To everyone’s amazement the referee only issued Wilton with a yellow card.

HSA went ahead on 62 minutes when Tom Hardwick’s free-kick was handled inside his own area by Dereham defender Adam Gusterson and a spot kick was awarded.

Harry Halls kept his nerve to send Wilton the wrong way and put his team ahead.

One minute later and Dereham’s task looked even tougher after substitute Scott Sutherland-Gray received a straight red card for a late and high challenge on Cutts.

Despite the setback the visitors levelled just three minutes later when Howell’s corner was headed home from close-in by Bussens, sending his team mates and bench wild with delight.

On 70 minutes Clarke dispossessed a Dereham defender and put Forshaw clear on goal, but Wilton denied the teenage playmaker with his legs.

The ever-dangerous Bussens had his near-post drive parried by Cutts and the game became littered by a flurry of bookings as it looked destined for extra-time.

However, three minutes after Clarke saw his 90th minute header saved by Wilton, Simon Newnes’s deep cross was headed back across goal by Paul Hunt for Clarke to acrobatically hook home a volley from the penalty spot and send the home fans and his team mates into wild delight.

HSA now face Sussex County League Division One high-flyers Peacehaven & Telscombe at home in the third round on December 8, and Clarke is determined to be involved.

He said: “I’m supposed to have a works do on the seventh but I think I’m going to have to miss it now.”

HSA are now the lowest ranked team left among the 64 teams remaining in the FA Vase, and alongside Central Midlands League outfit Sutton Town AFC are the only step seven side left standing.

HSA is still looking to secure a shirt sponsor this season. If you can help contact team manager Ben Cowling on 07904685010.

HSA: L Cutts: Hardwick, Newnes, Elkins (c), Strutton (P Hunt 74), Geoghegan, Bradley (Longley 80), Fernandez, Clarke, Forshaw, Halls (Weaver 85): Sub not used: C Cutts.

Echo man of the match: Ross Elkins.

 

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