Boro’ progress to Hants Senior Cup Semi-Final.
In the first of two home Cup ties in five days, Boro’ eased past Whitchurch United of the Sydenhams Wessex Premier Division by two goals to nil.
Unable to play any loan players the home side started with a line-up which included Ashley West in goal, Darryl Siaw, Xapi and Jamie Hand. They had a single sub in Adam Brice.
In what turned out to be a somewhat bleak, dour, encounter rather in keeping with the wintry weather, Boro’ kicked off and pressured the visitors from the start.
An early attempt from Fearn unluckily struck the back of Theophanous and was cleared.
When Boro’ were awarded a free kick just outside the area, Page’s kick rebounded from the wall and any danger averted.
A strong challenge by Lambert near the left touchline saw him receive a lecture from Referee Hollier, but nothing more.
When Hand was penalised in midfield, Lambert’s long kick was cleared for a corner and when Hassell shot from distance he was well wide of the mark.
In a ten minute period around the half hour, the visitors made a number of strong challenges. Pearson was booked for a foul, then Mansell needlessly fouled Culley on the left touchline and received no more than a few words.
When the same player brought down Xapi a few minutes later, Mr Hollier still couldn’t find a card.
The deadlock was finally broken when the lively Xapi burst clear on the right and calmly slotted home into the left corner of the goal after 39 minutes. Farnborough 1-0 Whitchurch United.
In the 40th minute, Boro’ made their one possible substitution, replacing an rather unhappy looking Phil Page with Adam Brice.
A decent Boro’ move just before half time, saw Grant through in the area and go down under a challenge. It looked a clear penalty to all but Mr Hollier.
Half Time: Farnborough 1-0 Whitchurch United
A 45 minutes which did little to warm the meagre crowd. Boro’ had the greater share of possession but managed just two shots on target.
The visitors moved the ball about in the middle of the park and had a couple of shots from distance, but West only had one save to make.
The second half got away at 8:49pm with the visitors being awarded an early free kick in a central position on the very edge of the penalty area. It wasn’t clear what the kick was given for though Whitchurch had yelled ‘hand ball’ in unison.
Mr Hollier was ten yards behind play and directly behind the ‘incident’, so it was anyone’s guess what he saw. The kick was struck well and breached the wall, but West made a good diving save.
When Xapi went to cross the ball from the goal line close to the edge of the area, he was needlessly subjected to a strong challenge which ended up with him and two Whitchurch players crashing through a gap in the hoardings.
After a short delay for treatment, play continued with no action taken and Pearson eventually returned with his head bandaged.
Both sides had a chance in the next few minutes, Theophanous shooting wide from outside the box and Hassell hit a low shot through a crowd of players which West gathered safely.
In the 60th minute, Culley was felled in the box and even though the Lino flagged for a foul, Mr Hollier denied Boro’ a penalty for the second time.
A minute later, Culley went one-on-one with the visiting keeper Snelling, who blocked the shot with his legs.
Phillips received a yellow card for a clumsy challenge before the visitors made two substitutions in a three minute spell. For Whitchurch, Lockyer replaced Hassell on 68 minutes, then Mansell, who but for Mr Hollier’s leniency, would surely not have escaped at least one yellow card, was withdrawn and replaced by Gray after 71 minutes.
Boro’ kept pushing forward and McCarthy was booked for a foul on Hand, but Grant’s free kick was cleared.
Whitchurch made their final substitution in the 82nd minute, Lambert giving way to Hinchcliffe.
At this stage the visitors were pressing for an equaliser, which may well have led to penalties, even though the Referee clearly didn’t believe in them. CJ was next to see yellow, when the previously booked McCarthy, appeared to go down very easily under a fair challenge.
However, with two minutes left, CJ did well on the left and his persistence saw him get the ball through to Louie Theophanous who made no mistake from about seven yards to put the tie beyond doubt after 88 minutes. Farnborough 2-0 Whitchurch United.
That was Theophanous’ sixth goal in just six games.
Boro’ simply played out the remaining time to ensure victory.
FULL TIME: Farnborough 2-0 Whitchurch United
A somewhat typically frustrating cup tie in which neither side excelled, but Boro’ finally triumphed over their lower league opposition and, importantly, finished without any undue injury worries ahead of Saturday’s F.A. Trophy Quarter Final against North Ferriby United.
Hopefully, we can expect an improvement on tonight’s meagre crowd of just 96.
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