Emley AFC displayed their dominance during the initial half of their first qualifying round match against a team competing in the division beneath them. They managed to find the back of the net three times within the initial 45 minutes, thus securing their advancement.
Although they failed to score in the latter half, Emley emerged victorious with ease at the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground. The home team commenced the game with enthusiasm and reaped the rewards of their efforts with two goals within the initial 20 minutes. Possession predominantly belonged to them, as Sandbach struggled to establish a foothold in the match.
The Pewits posed an early threat, with Ruben Jerome miscalculating a well-executed cross from Ross Hardaker. However, it was the former who rightfully gained from a strong start, as he expertly dispatched a perfectly placed corner from Steve Smith after 11 minutes, leading to a 1-0 score.
Exhibiting skilful ball control and launching attacks at every opportunity, Emley secured their second goal shortly after. This time, Jacob Kelly delivered a precise cross from the right flank. Hardaker found himself with ample space in the box, allowing him to calmly slot the ball into the opposing corner with his left foot.
Both teams exchanged chances, as William Booth sent a free kick over the crossbar for Sandbach, while Hardaker’s shot was adeptly blocked by United defender Niall Cope. Jerome also came close to scoring again but was thwarted by Sandbach’s strong defence. Furthermore, a precisely placed cross from Joe Kenny on the left nearly resulted in an own goal by Thomas Morris.
Following the second goal, Sandbach appeared lacklustre, yet managed a couple of promising opportunities during stoppage time in the first half. Kenny eventually capitalised on one of these opportunities, driving a skilful shot into the bottom left corner just before half-time, securing a 3-0 lead.
Half-time score: Emley 3 – 0 Sandbach
The commencement of the second half nearly saw Emley securing a fourth goal within a minute. Kelly’s powerful long-range shot struck the right-hand post and went out for a goal kick.
The second 40 minutes saw Emley maintaining a similar momentum, with additional chances coming their way. Another post was hit, this time by Donae Lawrence, as he came close in the 57th minute. The Pewits persisted in their pursuit of a fourth goal, with Alex Metcalfe making his first appearance of the season as a substitute for the impressive Kelly. However, Sandbach managed what could be considered the best chance of the second half. Striker Joshua Klein-Davies controlled the ball and almost executed a chip over Emley’s goalkeeper, only for the ball to rebound off the crossbar.
Substitute James Knowles believed he had secured a goal in the 85th minute, but it was disallowed as referee Matthew Blaney judged that the free kick had been taken too early.
Ultimately, Emley’s strength prevailed, securing their progression to the second qualifying round of the FA Vase against North West Counties side. Emley is set to travel to Brigg in September; further information will be provided.
Full-time score: Emley 3 – 0 Sandbach United