Gavin Cowan’s Telford side progressed to the third round of
the Buildbase FA Trophy with a textbook away performance at National League
side Hartlepool. Goals in each half, from Amari Morgan-Smith and Daniel Udoh,
moved them into the last sixteen of a competition they last won 30 years ago,
and whilst Wembley remains some four games away, a helpful hand in Monday’s
draw will only help to build belief that a return is possible.
The progression wasn’t limited simply to this competition.
Cowan has spoken since early in the season of the expectation that his team’s
character would develop, and this performance gave ample evidence that the
Bucks are genuinely becoming a side to be reckoned with.
Hartlepool, sitting in mid-table in the league above the
Bucks, were shorn of the services of talisman and top scorer Liam Noble;
however, a club who were in the Football League two seasons ago would generally
be regarded as favourites when drawn at home. That mattered little to the
Bucks, who went into the game on a run of four successive league wins, and
their confidence that they could cause an upset wasn’t misplaced.
Cowan’s side, backed by just shy of 100 travelling Bucks
fans, never looked overawed, and they took the lead after just seven minutes of
play. Daniel Udoh, who home skipper Carl Magnay was to find a real handful,
skipped away down the right-hand side and his low ball towards the edge of the
six-yard box was forced home by strike partner Amari Morgan-Smith. It wasn’t a
clean contact, but it found its way past keeper Scott Loach and nestled in the
The hosts didn’t crumble, but were clearly struggling to
contain Udoh and bustling companion Morgan-Smith. With Darryl Knights exploiting
space in the ‘hole’ behind the front two and wide players Brendon Daniels and
Ryan Barnett also foraging, the clearer chances kept falling Telford’s way.
Just after the quarter of an hour mark, Udoh should have
made it two-nil, but lifted his effort wide of Loach’s right post after being
played in. Little more than five minutes later and Udoh took too long to set
himself when he and Morgan-Smith were presented with a 2 on 1 breakaway, and
Hartlepool recovered, but again the net should have been rippling.
Pool fans were uneasy at the ease with which the Bucks
seemed to be finding gaps, getting in behind them far too easily. However, they
did find a response of sorts just before the half-hour; a clever free-kick
routine set Ryan Donaldson up to shoot hard and low for the bottom corner from
20 yards, but recalled keeper Andy Wycherley did superbly to save his effort.
It was their closest they came to scoring in the first half, the Bucks industry
and application when not in possession holding them at arms’ length.
Hartlepool boss Richard Money, only recently in post,
clearly decided his side needed shaking up, and made two substitutions at the
interval; however, it did little to change the state of affairs. Reduced to
shooting from distance, they did rattle Wycherley’s crossbar on 53 minutes,
Luke James’ effort crashing back off goal frame to safety from 25 yards. It
failed to herald a revival, and the Bucks, marshalled by Jonathan Royle in
midfield, held firm.
With just a quarter of the game remaining, the Bucks
extended their lead. Shane Sutton, who had stayed upfield after a free-kick,
headed a cross towards goal and although Loach dived to his left to keep the
ball out, Morgan-Smith’s presence saw the ball run loose in the six-yard box.
Udoh was the quickest to react and hared in to put the ball into the unguarded
The Bucks celebrated, and Hartlepool perhaps sensed the game
was up. Substitute Peter Kioso did his best to try and engineer an escape
route, and the hosts won a succession of attacking free-kicks late in the game;
they got the consolation of a goal three minutes into five minutes added by
referee Simeon Lucas, when Myles Anderson piled through at the back post to
bury a close-range header.
It mattered little; the Bucks continued their progress, and
Cowan’s side can look ahead with increasing belief.
Hartlepool United: Loach,
Richardson (Hawkes 45), Magnay (c), Rodgers, Amos, Donaldson, Featherstone,
McLaughlin (Kioso 57), James, Muir, Kitching (Anderson 45).
Unused Substitutes: Catterick (GK), Kioso, Hawkes, Anderson,
Scorers: Anderson (90+3).