Gallery and report: Brantham Athletic go out of FA Vase to Yaxley

PUBLISHED: 12:35 08 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:35 08 December 2014

Brantham (blue shirts) V Yaxley in the FA Vase football competition at Brantham Leisure Centre. Photograph Simon Parker

Brantham (blue shirts) V Yaxley in the FA Vase football competition at Brantham Leisure Centre. Photograph Simon Parker

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Brantham Athletic - Suffolk's last remaining FA Vase hopefuls this season - are out of the competition.

The Cuckoos from Yaxley called time on their hosts with a clinical second-half display after going in at the interval a goal down, thanks to a Jack Cawley header in the first minute.

Cawley’s goal, from a Kieran Lawler corner, should have set Brantham up for a rousing FA Vase third round performance.

And perhaps if Ollie Mann had slotted home a second just a minute later when through on goal, it may have turned out that way.

But the Brantham striker didn’t – as the home side missed their chances – and wily Yaxley, who never panicked and set their stall out in the second half to take the few opportunities that came their way, took home the spoils with three second-half goals.

Rob Hughes poked home from eight yards after 50 minutes, Luke Hipwell netted a fine individual effort (83), and Dan Cotton broke the Brantham offside trap to slot home with three minutes to go.

It was rather tough on the young Brantham side who never let their heads go down and battled to a man.

However, there should be much for them to learn from this game, perhaps the most important thing being, take your chances.

Mann missed another great opportunity minutes into the second half.

Chasing through on his own he took his shot early, but Yaxley goalkeeper Aaron Butcher was right behind it.

That opportunity, just like the one in the second minute, which was similar, would have made the score two or even three-nil to the home side.

However, it wasn’t to be.

Not that Mann can be criticised. He worked his socks off up front for Brantham and was the pick of the home team.

But much was on his shoulders playing as the lone striker.

This was certainly a tie Brantham could have won. Yaxley were good, but no more, especially in the first half when they weren’t even that.

However, the team from near Peterborough have been together for a few seasons as a squad and it showed.

In Hughes they had a tidy midfielder and in the second period Cotton was skilful and classy on the left wing. It was his cross that led to the equaliser – he netted the third.

But that was late on.

From the start Brantham came out all guns blazing. There was no cup tie nerves about Paul Abrahams’ side.

The first corner of the game after just 50 seconds saw Cawley rise triumphantly 14 yards out to steer his header over Butcher and into the net.

The home fans, most still finding their seats after leaving the clubhouse, were ecstatic. So were the Brantham players.

A minute later Mann should have made it two, put through on goal he fired against Butcher with just the Yaxley custodian to beat.

The clock hadn’t struck three minutes, yet the Cuckoos should have been out for the count.

Brantham’s football was aggressive but controlled and they had started as well as they could have hoped.

Mann and Lee Townrow combined to almost put the Brantham No.9 in once more and Ed Nobbs was sweeping in some decent left-footed crosses.

Yaxley had been let off the hook only being a goal down – and they knew it.

The visitors did start to get a foothold into the game and David Cobb vollied wide before Cotton tried his luck as the half-time whistle approached.

The second half wasn’t a minute old when Mann was put through again for the home side and, showing his strength, he got away a shot but it was straight at Butcher.

Yaxley had been caught cold once more at the start of a half, but again they got away with it – and Brantham were to rue letting them off the hook.

Ross Norfolk headed straight at Butcher as Brantham’s set-pieces worked well, but on 50 minutes Yaxley equalised. Cotton crossed to the back post where the ball ended up at Hughes’ feet, centre of goal, eight yards out, and he poked home. With their tails up, Yaxley got Cotton more and more into the game, the left winger being a continual outlet.

The next goal always looked like being the crucial one and it was the visitors who got it with just seven minutes left.

Hipwell showed huge determination as he meandered across the Brantham box from the left back position. He should have been stopped, but he just kept going and fired right-footed past a helpless Joe Fowler in the home goal.

You sensed a goal was coming, although Brantham fans no doubt wanted to believe their team would pull something out of the hat before Hipwell did.

Brantham’s heads didn’t go down and it was a tad cruel when Cotton beat the offside trap to tuck a third home to seal the Cuckoos’ victory and with it a place in the last 32.

The visitors rejoiced, while the home side were left to ponder what might have been.

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