Jake Morrison at the double as Wakefield AFC reach last 16 of West Riding County Challenge Cup

Jake Morrison celebrates scoring a goal for Wakefield AFC against Headingley FC. Picture: Adam BatesJake Morrison celebrates scoring a goal for Wakefield AFC against Headingley FC. Picture: Adam Bates
Jake Morrison celebrates scoring a goal for Wakefield AFC against Headingley FC. Picture: Adam Bates
Wakefield AFC progressed to the last 16 of the West Riding FA County Challenge Cup as they came away from Headingley AFC with a 3-1 victory.

After games against lower league opposition in the previous rounds - including a record 15-0 win against Fieldhead in round two - fellow step seven side Headingley, from the West Yorkshire Premier Division, were set to be much more of a challenge for Wakefield, writes Austin Ainsworth.

Adam Lockwood named an almost identical side to that which dispatched Jubilee Sports so comfortably in their last league outing, making only one enforced change in goal with Max Child making a welcome return from injury for his first start of the season. It was familiar faces throughout the rest of the side and familiar faces who helped the side through; with two goals from top scorer Jake Morrison and another from Billy Mole helping the team to a hard-fought win.

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Headingley made the better start and, after good early pressure, had a dangerous shot in the area well saved by Child; whilst Wakefield provided no real danger to the home goal in the early stages, with much of the action contested in the middle of the park.

The hosts may have considered themselves unfortunate in the 18th minute when, with their first shot of the game, Wakefield took the lead. Striker Morrison was the man on the end of it for the away side, when Red Bates broke excellently down the right from a clipped clearance over the flat-footed Headingley defence. He showed calm and composure to square at the last minute for Morrison, who competed a simple side-footed finish in to an open goal for his 13th goal of the season in all competitions.

It appeared that the goal was all it took to take the wind out of Headingley’s sails and give Wakefield lift-off, as the score was doubled two minutes later with the next action of the game.

It was that man Morrison again on hand, this time with a real striker’s header at the back post that crept under the home keeper. Right-back Luke Blackburn had been the creator, with a beautiful cross from deep setting Morrison up for the finish.

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With two goals from two attempts, Headingley may have been forgiven for letting heads slip. That was not the case as Child was called into action with two more saves, one a dangerous close range effort which was well held by the Wakefield goalkeeper.

With the 2-0 lead, Wakefield did assert a greater level of authority on the match and man of the match Morgan Butcher started to find his usual range in the middle of the park.

Much of the danger for the away side continued to come from Bates on the wing, with the creator-in-chief laying on another chance just before the half hour mark this time for Mason Rubie, who should have had a penalty when his feet were taken from under him when trying to shoot at goal.

Morrison also had a few sniffs at his second hat-trick of the season, his best an excellent turn on the edge of the box to create himself space for a wicked, looping shot that was expertly tipped just wide by the home goalkeeper.

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Wakefield did find their third 10 minutes before half-time, with Billy Mole bagging his sixth goal in as many games with a cool finish.

Bates, now with his eighth assist of the season, started the move off with a lobbed clearance to Mole on the halfway line. Mole fooled the last man with a good touch and raced in behind. With Bates and Morrison either side of him as he closed in on goal, he kept his cool to slide the ball past the goalkeeper and in to the back of the net.

Frickley Athletic sign young goalkeeper on loan from Rotherham UnitedThe 3-0 lead should have been comfortable for Wakefield, but Headingley showed great spirit in the second period with a much improved showing to find a way back in to the game, as they benefitted from a tactical switch to a back three with attacking wing-backs; one of who was a familiar face in ex-Wakefield AFC man Michael Ash.

Aside from two, almost identical, chances for Morrison to grab his hat-trick when he headed wide when unmarked on the six yard line, and a good penalty shout for Bates; most of the action came from the rejuvenated home side, who did find a goal back just before the hour mark.

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The goal came from a period of sustained pressure, and a good cross in to the back post found its way over the scrambling Wakefield backline and was finished nicely in to the roof of the net by the stretching Headingley striker.

With Headingley in the ascendancy and 30 minutes left to play, there would have been a degree of discomfort among the Wakefield coaches and travelling support. That feeling nearly went into overdrive minutes later when the home side nearly pulled another one back.

After Wakefield failed to clear a free-kick from deep, the ball found its way to a home man on the edge of the box. He dummied to beat his man and then hit a rising shot towards goal, which Child somehow managed to get his fingertips to to tip it on to the bar and preserve Wakefield’s two goal cushion.

Adam Lockwood had sensed enough danger and in the ensuing minutes made a number of changes, bringing on an extra man in midfield when switching to a 4-3-3 formation. That was enough for the away side to see out the match with the 3-1 scoreline preserved and now sees them through to the last 16 where they will welcome Middleton FC in a home tie.

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Wakefield will now turn their attentions back to the league, when they next visit Wombwell Main at Wombwell Cricket Club on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.

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