Frustrated Emley are knocked out of FA Vase at Newcastle Benfield

Emley’s Wembley dream is over after they exited the Buildbase FA Vase with a 2-0 defeat in the North East at Newcastle Benfield.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 12:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 12:09 pm
Emley AFC players pictured before their FA Vase game at Newcastle Benfield. Picture: Krissi Simmons

On a windy day and on a sticky, bobbly pitch, Emley were well in the game until the referee gave Newcastle a debatable penalty in the 82nd minute, which effectively handed the tie to the hosts, writes Martin Eastwood.

The referee was seemingly at the centre of everything, issuing two red cards and numerous yellow cards to the visitors, which left them unhappy after the final whistle.

But the Pewits started well. Playing with a strong wind at their backs, they took the game to the Lions early on and George Doyle had a good chance in the first minute only to fire a stinging volley just over.

Goalmouth action from Emley AFC's FA Vase game at Newcastle Benfield. Picture: Krissi Simmons

Watched by an assortment of dogs, aliens, lions and backed by another terrific travelling support, Emley dominated the first 15 minutes, Donae Lawrence dominating midfield with support out wide from James Ngoe and Callum Charlton.

They were hit by a bad knee injury to Antony Leech, the experienced centre-back having to be stretchered off to be replaced by Charlie Smith.

The hosts were struggling on the heavy pitch and did not really trouble the Emley defence until well into the half. It was a good chance, however, and needed Sam Kelly to stand firm in goals to produced a fine one-on-one save low down before the ball was finally cleared for a corner after numerous attempts to put the follow up in.

Emley headed down the other end and Ngoe found himself with a bit of time and space to get a shot away, but it was deflected and the dangerous looking corner was also cleared.

The game then entered a scrappy period, but also a frustrating one for Emley as they were constantly penalised for every slight misdemeanour, Donae Lawrence can certainly feel extremely hard done to for collecting a booking for a fine challenge, which both sets of fans applauded.

Jack Bennett was also booked and the referee twice went to have words with the Emley bench as the visitors were becoming more frustrated.

However, they did have a glorious chance to head into the break a goal up, a lovely crossfield ball by debutant Joe Kenny found Charlton in space and the speedy wingman easily beat the defence only to pull his shot an inch or so wide with the keeper beaten.

Emley had more than held their own though and could be happy with their first half work.

If the first half was frustrating for Emley then the second certainly was.

The game descended into a slugfest, the pitch, although grassed was bumpy, heavy, sticky and the bounce of the ball was a lottery at times, added to the wind, it made for a less than entertaining tie.

The Pewits also felt the full wrath of the local referee too, after numerous incidents including what looked like Joe Kerry taking an elbow to the temple, the Emley bench seemingly went too far in their protests and James Knowles was shown a red card and dispatched to the stand.

The hosts became more of an attacking threat too, with 44-year-old ex-Newcastle, Reading and Cardiff City man Paul Brayson leading the line, but Emley’s backline, marshalled superbly by Moxon and Co man of the match Sam Pashley, aided by Smith and skipper for the day, Danny Lowe, saw them off relatively comfortably.

With the referee so eager to dish out yellow cards to Emley, the visitors were once again furious when he chose to only give a foul against Newcastle when Charlie Smith was wrestled to the ground after looking like he was about to breakaway down the left.

It was not until just gone the hour when the first real shot in anger of the second half appeared, but Benfield fired high and wide and it would be a while before the next real penalty box action.

Both sides continued to toil on the heavy pitch and Emley continued to get frustrated, Ngoe was shown a yellow card for a challenge and Charlton was given a stern talking to, as well as another lecture to the Emley bench for daring to question some of his decisions, strangely, the home bench did not appear to have any such qualms.

Then the biggest cheer of the afternoon so far came when the referee finally decided he ought to book a home player for a crude challenge on Max Tweddle, the Emley supporters’ ironic cheers and applause were met with bemusement by the locals, even the dogs joined in at one point.

Emley introduced Jamie Price and Jimmy Eyles to try and change the fortunes. While Price steadied the rearguard, Eyles could not use his pace and trickery on a pitch that looked like they were running on treacle.

The game had petered out and was looking like a penalty shoot-out would decide the outcome, then came the game changing moment with less than 10 minutes to go.

Benfield were in attack and got a shot away just inside the Emley penalty area, Price appeared to have turned his back on the shot to deflect it away, but after appeals for handball, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick,

Emley were unhappy, players, officials and supporters made their feelings known to the officials, but Brayson stepped up and confidently planted the ball past Kelly for the lead.

The final 10 minutes saw Emley, tired, after a three-hour coach journey and on the heavy pitch, as well as frustrated, try their hardest to get a goal back, but they were punished five minutes later as a stretched defence could not halt a raid down the right and a fine finish by Turnbull gave Kelly no chance, lifting the ball high into the top corner to seal the victory for the Lions.

Emley fought until the end though, but to no avail, their Wembley dream over, but it was not the end of the action.

After the final whistle, Emley made their feelings known to the officials and Charlton was also dismissed as manager Richard Tracey was involved in long discussions with the referee, who again, was ironically cheered and applauded off the pitch by the travelling support.

It was always going to be a tough proposition for Emley as Northern League sides usually do well in this competition.

It is a trip to Rotherham next up tomorrow night for a Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup quarter-final clash with Parkgate.