Beecham’s Cribbs battlers all set for Sholing test in New Year Vase cruncher
CRIBBS boss Tony Beecham is gearing up his men for a momentous New Year spell on the cups front, writes Simon Parkinson.
Whilst his team have been battling it out to inconsistent effect in the lower reaches of the Toolstation Premier Division of late, their FA Vase and Gloucestershire Challenge Trophy assaults have raised excitement and anticipation levels at The Lawns.
Beecham’s boys kick-off their big January mission with a tough last-16 Vase clash in their own Station Road backyard on Saturday 5 (3pm) against Sholing, the famous national amateur competition’s 2014 winners and current unbeaten pacesetters in the Sydenhams Wessex League top-flight.
Cribbs, the last of GFA-affiliated clubs left standing in the Vase, follow it up with a tasty GFA Trophy quarter-final appearance on home soil once more on Tuesday, January 15 (7.45pm) against league rivals Cadbury Heath, who were recently knocked out of the Vase at the third round stage 8-4 by St Austell in a remarkable Springfield showdown.
First things first when it comes to the enticing knock-out fare as Cribbs enter the Vase arena for a fifth time this term, having already dispensed of Shortwood United (5-1), Brimscombe & Thrupp (3-2), Newport Isle of Wight (2-0) and SW Peninsula Prem side Saltash United last time out.
That draining round three tussle in Cornwall eventually ended in a late 4-2 victory for the Bristol braves and their relieved supremo smiled: “It’s a good job I have no hair as at 2-1 down we were struggling a bit!
“We’d gone 1-0 up through George Kellow’s seventh-minute penalty and Saltash equalised five minutes later to make it 1-1 at half-time.
“In fact we lost our way for a full hour or so from the moment we’d taken that early lead and it got worse for us as they then went 2-1 up.
“We changed formation and eventually managed to draw level with Dan Spicer’s free-kick eight minutes from time.
“Our substitute Marcus Kelly then put us 3-2 up with two minutes to go after a goalmouth scramble and Sol (Wanjau-Smith) put us all out of our misery with a fourth in injury-time.”
Beecham conceded: “It was a bit tight and really the game should probably not have been played as the pitch was not the best and sand had been spread over areas of it because of the water.
“It was heavy and boggy out there but both managers agreed to play and we were delighted to get through.
“Credit to the lads; they were superb. They’re a good bunch and they dug deep to thoroughly deserve their win. And we achieved it without two suspended players in Greg Andrews and Ben Dowdell, while Tom Collett was cup-tied and Sam Iles was out injured.
“Suffice to say celebrations went on long into the night!”
Of the enormity of the task now facing them at an expectant Lawns on January 5, Beecham reasoned: “It’s going to be a very big ask to get past Sholing.
“They were in the Southern League until a few years ago when they had to come out for financial reasons and they have won 15 of their 16 unbeaten league games (up to December 22) so far this season.
“They also won the FA Vase at Wembley a few years ago so they’re going strong. But it’s our first home game in this year’s competition and we’ll give it a real good go.
“We’re all really looking forward to it. It’s a massive occasion for us and it’s the furthest the club has gone in its (60-year) history.
“Sholing will start as favourites but if we have everyone fit and available for it we’ll be well placed to try and cause an upset.”