Moles Cup Dreams Bash’d

by Andrew Finch

Molesey 2-3 Bashley  

Scored :Bent 50' , Mcshane 73'

In the end, history will show that, like Tuesday at the Croydon Arena, Molesey lost 3-2 with Owen Bent and James McShane the scorers; however for last chunks of Saturday’s FA Cup first Qualifying Round against Bashley the Moles stood toe-to-toe with their Hampshire opponents, who started the day a massive 58 places above them in the pyramid.

A debut was given to Colin Harris in goal, who looked assured throughout but stood no chance with the visitors opening goal on 33 minutes, as veteran full-back Paul Gazzard drilled a shot past him from the edge of the box after a Bashley corner had been partially cleared.

Bashley had shaded the half up until that point, with the alert Harris kicking clear when on the deck having blocked a dangerous cross from Adam Kelly, then seconds later Mark Gamble glanced a header inches wide from a Chris Ferrett centre.

Three minutes before Gazzard broke the deadlock, Kelly had burst clear of two Molesey defenders and was unlucky to see his dipping volley clip the top of the bar.

Despite creating little in the opening half, Molesey’s performance belied their recent league form, which had seen them defend like a team of bumbling amateurs in conceding eight goals in their previous two games, as they didn’t give their opponents a moments peace and more than held their own, with Steve Brown and McShane particularly influential in midfield.

Luckily for fans of both sides the second half was a far livelier affair than the first, and within five minutes of the restart the Moles had drawn level.  The referee played a fine advantage when Sam Lampard was taken out on the halfway line, and when Andy Graves played a cross into the Bashley box, McShane competed with Ferrett, and the ball fell invitingly to Bent, who looped a header over David Elm into the back of the net.

The Moles now had the bit between their teeth, and were extremely unfortunate not to take the lead five minutes later, as a terrific through ball from Lampard set up McShane, who rounded Elm but saw his effort blocked on the line.  The ball seemed to linger on the goal line for an age before being hacked to safety, despite one or two half-hearted appeals that the ball had crossed the line.

As the game begun to get more stretched, chances became more frequent, and Gamble shot wastefully over having turned Phil Dexter inside out.

The busy McShane then had another chance to put the Moles ahead but shot just over the bar from long range after good play by Brown and Matt Baxter, before the visitors regained the lead midway through the half, from what was a generous penalty decision.

As Gamble and Dexter came together they seemed to trip over each other.  The ref saw nothing wrong in the incident and waved play on, however immediately changed his mind when he saw his Assistant flagging.  The Moles felt particularly aggrieved as they felt an offside decision involving the same linesman had gone against them in the build up to the penalty.  Dave Allen converted from 12 yards.

Again the Moles fought back, and with 15 minutes left on the clock deservedly drew level once more with an extraordinary effort from McShane.  As a cross was played in from the left, the imposing figure of Elm came racing out of his goal, and despite having time to catch the ball opted to punch instead.

The ball bounced once before reaching the head of McShane – possibly the smallest player on the pitch – who powered a header back into the net from just outside the box.

However the Moles were back on level terms for just five minutes and once more it was their defending – their achilles heel so often already this season – that let them down, as Charlie Knight was given too much time on the edge of the box to place a shot beyond Harris.

The Moles pressed for an improbable third equaliser, and it was certainly a compliment that the Bashley bench were encouraging the final whistle long before the end and were barking instructions for their men to keep the ball in the corner and kill the game off.

Despite bowing out from the world’s oldest cup competition the Moles can take plenty of heart from a credible run that has seen them clear the first two hurdles of the competition for the first time in 7 seasons.  They will now look to address their alarming league form with a trip to Horley on Tuesday before returning to cup action next Saturday with the visit of Sussex County League Side Hassocks in the FA Vase.


Line up:  Colin Harris, Andy Graves, Ollie Dicks (Ross Defoe 76), Phil Dexter, Joe Yeates, Moses Spencer, Sam Lampard, Steve Brown [C], Matt Baxter, Owen Bent, James McShane.  Subs (not used): Danny Coombes, Danny Roberts, Craig Stephens, Sam Taylor