SOUTHAM UNITED 6 STRETTON EAGLES 4
This Les James Challenge Cup tie survived a morning pitch inspection to provide a ten-goal extravaganza to delight even the most hardened groundhopper while causing heart palpitations for the managerial staff of both sides.
Saints boss Lee Knibbs was delighted to see his side make it through, but was less than impressed to concede four goals against the Midland Combination Division One side.
“It’s always pleasing to make progress in cup competitions as winning breeds confidence and reinforces good habits,” said Knibbs.
“However, the match showed that we still have much work to do, especially in defence, if we are to meet our objectives for the season.”
After an uneventful opening, the game sparked into life with two goals in the same number of minutes.
Southam took the lead in the 26th when a Josh Cole chip cleared keeper Dave Kirkland and found its way into the net off unfortunate defender Liam Mander.
Eagles swept straight downfield to level as Saints gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position and Tom Liverdage coolly placed the dead ball just under the angle of post and bar.
In the 32nd minute, Scott Walkman put Stretton ahead but once again the response was instant and within sixty seconds Saints has equalised, Cole thumping home a Ryan Lynch through ball.
Seven minutes later, Southam took the lead as Cole bravely headed in a cross from Craig Watkin and, on the stroke of half-time, Lynch’s cross was slotted home by Jim Graham to put Southam 4-2 up.
Stretton reduced the arrears in the 53rd minute with a fine shot from Tom Ellerton.
However, ten minutes later Saints re-established their two- goal cushion with Simeon Smith flicking the ball up before heading over Dave Kirkland to maintain his 100 per cent scoring rate in cup matches this season.
The scoring continued when a low cross from the right saw a Saints defender slip as he tried to clear, leaving the quick-thinking Jordan Dent to volley past Manuel.
George Curry was at the heart of most of Southam’s best moves and his precision pass allowed young substitute Robbie Stephans to race past defenders and draw Kirkland off his line before sliding the ball through the keeper’s legs to round off the scoring.
Stockton entertain Highway Coundon Court in the Coventry Charity Cup tomorrow (1.45pm) before a home league game against Pershore Town on Tuesday night (7.45pm).