Sensational City Come From Behind In Magical FA Vase Victory
Outstanding performance as ten-man City come from two down to force the tie into extra-time, before a brilliant free-kick from Rob Lawrence sees them through to the next round
Canterbury City 4 Corinthian FC 2
It's what Saturday afternoons are for!
A sensational game for City as they dragged themselves back from two goals and a man down to crash past Corinthian and into the next round of the FA Vase.
After a very bright start, City somehow found themselves two goals behind at half-time and then following a sending off just after the break, they rallied and battled back with some brilliant goals to beat Corinthian deep into extra-time and gain some revenge at least for their FA Cup exit earlier in the season to the same opponents.
City started the brighter and forced all the early chances as they dominated the opening stages. Kane Phillip hooked an effort well wide from a Jordan Casey long throw and Remell Davis tried to pick his way through the defence before running into a dead-end but still managed to set up Casey whose shot was blocked out for a corner. That was eventually cleared to safety but City continued to press forward and James Turner scooped a long shot wide, while Davis ran half the length of the pitch before seeing his low cross defended away and then shot wide after being sent through with a defence splitting pass.
All was looking bright for City but on fifteen minutes and very much against the run of play, the home side took the lead with virtually their first meaningful attack. City were caught on the hop as Steven Ita and Kameron Gyeabour hit them on the counter and outnumbered at the back, City succumbed to a firm, flying header from Conor Johnson for 0-1. A minute or two later, they found themselves further behind when another quick attack saw Corinthian pick their way through the City ranks with some slick passing before Shaun Brown chipped the ball past the advancing City keeper Jack Delo for 0-2 and in the blink of an eye, City had gone from a dominant opening to two goals behind.
City were all of a sudden firmly on the back foot and a wasted thirty-yard Casey free-kick sent flying over the home bar did little to change the situation, neither did the penalty denied to Phillip as he was brought down from behind in the box after a sparkling run. The hosts were looking to build their lead still further though as Johnson fired over the bar and Jack Bath saw his fierce shot charged down by Gary Sayer. They also won a couple of corners and an attacking free-kick and it was the latter that nearly saw the third goal as the ball was whipped in low and punched out by Delo only for the ball to cannon back of his own defender and fortunately land back in his hands.
Another chance came and went for the home side when an unlucky ricochet in the City box was pounced upon by Brown but with just Delo to beat, he wastefully struck the ball wide of the far post. Davis found some space for City but was far too high with his effort, while at the other end Brown was a constant thorn forcing Delo into two saves before clean through, he rolled the ball wide. City tried to get themselves back into it, but two well placed Adam Woollcott free-kicks could only create a Turner shot and a Laurence Harvey header which both went wide.
In the run up to the break, City disappointed with some poor crosses and final balls and an attack from Davis and Phillip that fizzled out poorly in the last minute of the half just about summed up City's response since going behind. The omens weren't looking good and it was crucial that City somehow found the next goal as soon as possible after the break to give themselves at least a fighting chance.
What they didn't need was to go down to ten men but just after the restart, that was exactly what happened when Liam Quinn was shown a straight red card following the intervention to the referee from a linesman over something that was allegedly said or wasn't said between them.
It could have been a disaster for City, but with the odds now stacked against them and an undoubted feeling of injustice over Quinn's dismissal they sprang into action and collectively grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. A cross from Davis after another great run was only just scrambled out at the near post for a corner, Phillip could only stab the ball straight at home keeper Aiden Prall after bustling his way past several challenges and a Harvey looped header was then easily taken by the keeper, no goal - but you could just feel the determination growing and the momentum of the game changing.
Two more promising looking attacks unsuccessfully came and went for City as they desperately needed some quality and inspiration from somewhere and it duly arrived in the sixty-sixth minute when the pass of the season from Woollcott, a split-second, wrong foot, reverse ball over the Corinthian defence was perfect for James Turner and he twisted and turned with the ball before stroking it superbly past Prall for 1-2.
At last City had some hope, but almost immediately disaster almost struck at the other end when a right-sided Corinthian attack was whipped low across the City box and deflected off a back-tracking Dan Keyte but fortunately for the visitors spun away from goal and went out for a corner.
Turner's 'reward' for getting City back into the tie was the hook and he was quickly replaced by Josh Froggatt in what was an inspired substitution because he was immediately causing the home side problems and within a minute of coming on he had set City up for the equaliser. Another City attack, this time crafted by Davis and Michael Turner found Froggatt down on the right and a piece of clever trickery later he was in space and his pin-point cross was perfect for Casey to thump home a firm, downward header for 2-2.
With neither side really wanting extra-time or a replay, although down to ten men, City would probably have settled for either or both at that point, both teams pushed forward in search of a winner and the play went from end-to-end in proper cup-tie fashion. A Corinthian free-kick ended with a header hitting the City bar, while a shot from substitute Jack Holland caused Delo into a sharp save down at the foot of his near post. Woollcott saw his free-kick clip the wall and go out for a City corner while Keyte threw himself forward to block another home shot.
Neither a nervous late corner for Corinthian or attacking free-kick for City - both in stoppage time - could break the deadlock and the tie was now forced into extra-time.
Two early corners for the hosts failed to produce anything, while a Froggatt run into the box saw him beat two or three challenges before seeing his shot blocked. Davis was only beaten a yard from the post as a crowd of defenders managed to scramble the ball away from him for a corner while at the other end a home free-kick and a Brown header both failed to trouble the City goal.
City finished the first period of extra-time with Davis firing over the bar and Froggatt seeing his shot saved by Prall, but with just the second period to come, a replay was looming.
Corinthian restarted the brighter as City dug in and Jack Billings skied a shot well over the City bar, Delo dealt well with an attacking free-kick and City also cleared two Corinthian corners. Davis was upended as he charged towards goal, with substitute Rob Lawrence seeing the resultant free-kick blocked by the wall.
With a minute to go, a late surge from City won them a free-kick down by the right corner flag which was sent in but defended out to the left where a rash challenge brought City another. Lawrence stepped up and curled it in high and with purpose and it flew over the keeper's outstretched arm, evaded the defender not properly guarding the far post and dipped in under the bar straight into the back of the net for a brilliant 3-2 to City - sparking massed celebrations as a dejected Corinthian side trudged back for the restart.
With the home side still reeling from the goal and the game now into the last minute, City struck again as Keyte lifted a delicious ball into the box and Lawrence ran through onto the pass and poked it past Prall for a fantastic 4-2 to City and match won.
Some argy-bargy between the players in what few seconds that remained and just after the final whistle failed to take the shine off City's outstanding performance and it is they who proceed into the next round of the FA Vase after finishing on the right side of one of those games that makes traipsing all over the place watching your team, through thick and thin, rain, snow and freezing temperatures worth every single bloody mile!
Final score: Canterbury City 4 Corinthian FC 2
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Gary Sayer, Liam Quinn, Laurence Harvey, Dan Keyte, Adam Woollcott (Ollie Lee), Remell Davis, Jordan Casey (Liam Middleton), James Turner (Josh Froggatt), Kane Phillip (Rob Lawrence )
Unused Sub: James Nurden