Last Gasp Arundel Bury Moles

by Andrew Finch

Molesey 1-2 Arundel  

A last minute goal by Arundel centre half Dave Walker sent Molesey crashing out of the FA Vase in an uninspiring game at Walton Road.

In truth neither side deserved a place in the Second round as they managed just three efforts on goal between them in 90 minutes – all of which led to goals. 

Disappointing it was their defending from set pieces that once again let the Moles down, with Arundel opening the scoring on 12 minutes after keeper Colin Harris had flapped at a corner and missed completely.  Rob Grove punished him by blasting home from close range.

The Moles drew level after 35 minutes, as Matt Baxter competed with Walker just inside the penalty area, the ball bounced up and struck the Arundel man on the arm.   The poorly positioned ref looked to his assistant for confirmation, and despite no flag being forthcoming he pointed to the spot.  Ben O’Conor got a hand to Baxter’s spot-kick but failed to keep the ball out.

The rest of the half passed with little goalmouth action, with mystery booking for Molesey’s Phil Dexter and Steve Brown – presumably for saying something not to the ref’s liking – as well as a deserved booking for Andy Graves for a foul on Max Axeil.

The second half was just as bad, although Lewis Hamilton saw a Paul Scholes-like volley from the edge of the box just clear the bar having been picked out from a corner.

A minute later Rob Lewis survived a handball appeal when he fluffed a routine clearance and the ball bounced up and hit his arm.  The ref waved away the visitors’ vociferous penalty appeals.

Phil Dexter led a Molesey breakaway midway through the half, but when in an extremely promising position and with the Moles four on three, his intended pass for Brown went wastefully out of play.

The introduction of fans’ favourites Sam Lampard and Lewis Ackerman in place of the ineffective Dexter and Owen Bent gave the Moles a different dimension up front, and after Brown had linked well with Lampard, Ackerman’s clever touch set up Baxter, whose fierce drive just went the wrong side of the post.

Two minutes later Ackerman saw a 25 yard curler just clear the bar as the Moles looked to finish the tie without the need to extra-time, however the visitors’ were presented with an opportunity to win it on 87 minutes when Joe Yeates sent Scott Tipper tumbling in the box, with the ref pointing to the spot.

Tipper stepped up but shot wastefully wide of Harris’ goal.  It was a case of déjà vu for the big front man, who also missed a last minute penalty when the sides met in the FA Cup Extra Qualifying round two seasons ago.  However, as was the case back then, his miss mattered little.

Molesey again pushed forward in the search of an equaliser, and a cross-shot from Baxter flashed across goal, injuring both O’Conor and left back Rory Riggs in the process.  Frustratingly for the Moles, the corner immediately afterwards, as well as a corner a minute later failed to test the hobbling O’Conor.

The busy Lampard burst through the Arundel defence on 90 minutes, and despite losing control of the ball was clearly bundled over by Tom Pickford, with the ref – whose performance was in-keeping with the overall standard of the game – waving play on.

It was particularly frustrating for Moles fans as seconds later Hamilton was fouled by Ross Defoe and went down with an ear-piercing squeal.  From the resulting free-kick Walker – the games outstanding player – headed beyond Harris at the far post.

Baxter had the chance to force extra-time at the death, but after being picked out by Ackerman he took an age to get the ball out of his feet and his effort was superbly blocked by Riggs.

The ref blew for full-time moments later, leaving Moles boss Steve Webb to reflect on another disappointing performance against a team that were there for the taking.

By his own admission he now has a month to save his job with a succession of league fixtures, starting with a trip to Wembley on Tuesday night.


Line-up:  Colin Harris, Andy Graves, Ross Defoe, Joe Yeates, Rob Lewis, Steve Brown [C], James McShane, Phil Dexter (Sam Lampard 79), Matt Baxter, Owen Bent (Lewis Ackerman 79), Dan Coombes.  Subs (not used) Craig Prendergast, Sam Taylor, Wester Young