Newark and Sherwood were looking to progress to the third round of the FA Vase yesterday afternoon against an in-form Lichfield City at Station Road. The Highwaymen were unbeaten from their last six matches in the premier division north of the United Counties League and have been tough to beat at home this season. They beat Wellingborough Town in a thriller 4-3 to set up yesterday’s tie.
Lichfield City were looking to progress to the third round of the FA Vase for the first time in the club’s history and were one of the form teams in step five coming into this tie. The visitors had the best form in the MFL Premier Division with 16 points from their last six league matches. The visitors were also on an excellent run in the FA Vase with three wins to get to this stage of the competition.
The atmosphere around Station Road prior to kick off was welcoming and friendly with both sets of supporters looking forward to the match. The programme on offer was excellent and provided a history of Lichfield City alongside some useful information about Newark and Sherwood United which was beneficial for casual groundhoppers as well as regular supporters.
There was a fitting tribute to Remembrance Day prior to kick off which was well observed by the crowd and added to the occasion. Newark and Sherwood have excellent ties to their local community and the remembrance presentation was a brilliant reflection of that.
Starting Line ups
The starting line up for Newark and Sherwood United featured Ross Woolley starting in goal and Ainsley Finney leading the team as the number nine. The formation appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Liam Moran and Tom Jones playing on the wings and Kian Sketchley playing in the number ten role.
There was one change from the team that started against Boston Town last weekend with Lloyd Patterson coming into the team and playing in central defence alongside Kacper Rajter.
Lichfield’s starting line up included James Beeson starting in goal and Dan Lomas captaining the team from holding midfield in his 100th appearance for the club. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with prolific forward Dan Smith leading the line up front and being supported on the wings by Kieran Francis and Liam Kirton.
There were three changes from the team that started against Romulus last weekend with Lewi Burnside coming into the team and starting at right back.
There was a late change to the starting line up before kick-off, with Matt Hunt coming into the team for Jamie Elkes and playing in central defence alongside regular starter Joe Haines.
Lichfield started the match the stronger of the two teams in the early stages with Newark gradually growing into the match as it went on. Kieran Francis had a header well saved by Ross Woolley in the opening few minutes with the visitors putting a sustained run of pressure on the Newark goal in the first twenty minutes.
Newark were struggling to build attacks in the final third throughout the opening half an hour and it was not quite clicking up front.
Lichfield took the lead mid-way through the first half which involved a moment of quality from Dom Lewis who played a brilliant pass that opened the Newark defence and resulted in a shot on goal. The shot was rebounded into the path of Dan Smith who finished well to make it 1-0 to Lichfield.
Kieran Francis had a half chance to make it 2-0 to Lichfield near the half hour mark and had a shot go narrowly wide from a good position on the edge of the box.
The best chance for Newark came near the end of the first half. Following a few telling balls into the box by the hosts, an incisive ball was played to Ainsley Finney who narrowly missed the target. The chance was a genuine moment of encouragement for Newark supporters going into half time as the Highwaymen showed they could give Lichfield some problems in the second half.
Lichfield started the second half on the front foot and had a huge chance to make it 2-0 early on with Joe Haines heading wide from a good position at the back post. Lichfield managed to find a second goal a few minutes later. Dan Smith made a good run in the box and had a shot saved that fell into the path of Kieran Francis who finished well to make it 2-0.
Newark responded brilliantly from conceding the goal and managed to find a quick goal to get back into the match a few minutes later. Following a failed clearance in the box, Liam Moran capitalised and finished excellently into the bottom left corner to make it 2-1 and give the Highwaymen a chance of equalising to set up a penalty shootout.
The hosts had an impressive 10-minute spell following the goal where they applied considerable pressure on the Lichfield goal and were causing the visitors problems. They had a few half chances around the edge of the box and were growing in confidence. The visitors managed to see out this period well and limited the clear-cut chances for Newark.
Lichfield managed to respond to the Newark pressure with Liam Kirton making a run into the box and getting a penalty for the visitors. Dan Lomas took the resulting penalty well into the bottom right corner to make it 3-1 to the visitors. This took the pressure off Lichfield and was a pivotal moment in the match. From a Newark perspective it was unfortunate as they were building a run of momentum and starting to cause Lichfield problems.
The hosts had some notable chances to get back into the match in the middle of the second half and make it 3-2. Liam Moran fired wide from a good position and Ainsley Finney had a guilt edged chance in front of goal but shot wide.
The visitors managed to get a fourth goal late on seal the match with a quality long ball finding Kieron Francis who lobbed the keeper to make it 4-1.
It was a well drilled team performance by Lichfield yesterday which got the job done to progress to the third round.
Despite the defeat, Newark and Sherwood competed well against one of the in-form teams at step five. Supporters should be proud of the team as they showed character to get back into the match from 2-0 down in the second half and make a game of it.
There’s quality throughout the squad and players with a lot of promise to get better in the United Counties League. Kacper Rajter looked good at the back and read the game well to stop promising Lichfield attacks throughout the match. Toby White linked up the play well from holding midfield and managed to win the ball back for Newark on numerous occasions.
Ainsley Finney was getting into some good position around the box and built up the play well when given the opportunity. Ryler Thompson had an underrated game at left back who looked defensively solid and won the ball back well for Newark.
Lichfield were good in this match and managed to get the win to progress to the third-round draw. The team has that ability to produce when it matters so far this season which is a huge positive going into the testing winter months ahead.
Joe Haines was excellent at the back and was constantly getting into the right positions to clear the ball away from danger. The holding midfield of Dan Lomas and Dom Lewis were excellent in this match and a key part of why Lichfield won. The way they regained possession and won the ball back provided the visitors with a bit of industry in midfield to break up play and get a foot on the ball.
Kieran Francis was excellent on the right wing and made some brilliant runs throughout the match to create key chances up front.
Overall, a brilliant advert for the FA Vase and both teams showed a lot of endeavour in what was an entertaining match at Station Road yesterday afternoon.
FT score: Newark and Sherwood United 1-4 Lichfield City
Man of the Match: Dom Lewis (Lichfield City)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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