FA Vase dream is over as St Ives go through

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Long Eaton United’s interest in this season’s FA Vase ended as they slipped to yet another home defeat, this time to United Counties side St Ives Town.

FA Vase Second Round

Long Eaton United 0

St Ives Town 3

Long Eaton United’s interest in this season’s FA Vase ended as they slipped to yet another home defeat, this time to United Counties side St Ives Town.

Despite some good individual performances, particularly in their back line, it was the lack of creative guile that eventually undid United’s aspirations of progress against a Cambridgeshire side that had won 11 of their last 12 games in all competitions.

During a subdued opening, both sets of players appeared to be sizing up their counterparts with United seemingly content to sit fairly deep.

Ross Whalin dealt confidently with a two shots on target from the visitors before Shaun Rickford tried his luck with a strike from distance for United which was equally well-held by the St Ives ‘keeper.

Although the Cambridgeshire outfit were having more of the possession United were fairly effective defensively and Dean Whiley in particular appeared to be in commanding form at the heart of the action.

Unluckily, and just at the point at which United seemed to be breaking out of their collective shell, St Ives took the lead midway through the opening half.

After a brief moment of pressure, United were unable to close down Conor Washington quickly enough and the visiting striker fired his shot low to Whalin’s right as United’s ‘keeper was momentarily wrong-footed.

The setback rocked United, particularly in view of their recent home form, but they strived to hit back and Paul Gamble provided a dangerous cross into the visitors’ area which was headed wide by Matt Weightman and Zakk Hilton had a speculative effort blocked by a defender.

Nonetheless, for all their endeavours, United went into the break trailing.

Long Eaton had perhaps their best period of the game during the opening 15 minutes after the resumption with Hilton again finding space before firing in a rising shot from the left that almost brought some reward, and Michael Martin heading wide of the post after good work from Michael Armstrong.

At the other end Isaac Marshall broke up a promising St Ives counter and Whalin held on to a well-struck drive from the visitors.

After 68 minutes substitute Will Mellors-Blair beat his man before cutting inside to hit a strike that was also off target and just at the point when the home supporters expectations were beginning to lift, St Ives scored their second goal - a carbon-copy off their initial effort.

Once again it was Washington who provided his team with the comfort of a two-goal cushion.

The deflating impact of the goal was almost visible and although the blue shirts of United battled manfully to reclaim a position in the game it was clear that the visitors had the control that was required to see them through.

Josh Hooley fired a shot wide shortly afterwards and a number of crosses were pumped deep into the St Ives area but all were calmly dealt with by a defence that knew that the job in hand was almost completed.

Much to the delight of the visiting contingent, Washington completed his hat-trick after a defensive mix-up late in the game and United accepted the final whistle with almost as much relief as disappointment.

United: Whalin, Armstrong, Whiley (c), Marshall, Gamble, Hooley Breach, Martin, Hilton (Mellors-Blair 64), Rickford (Mushambi 84), Weightman (King 73)

l On Saturday United entertain mid-table Winterton Rangers at Grange Park, hoping to arrest form which has not seen them win in ten consecutive Saturday home games.