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Flowserve set up Skegness Town tie after 3-1 win over County Hall in FA Vase first qualifying round

Newark Flowserve progressed to the second qualifying round of the FA Vase with a 3-1 win at County Hall in Leicestershire on Saturday afternoon.

The victory sets up a home tie against Skegness Town on September 14, but it needed the bracing arrival of two 69th minute substitutes to ensure their passage.

The game was locked at 1-1 before Danny Meadows and Matt Cotton entered the fray, and within four minutes the former set up the latter to put The Highwaymen ahead once again, and the Newarkers never looked back.

Danny Meadows inspired Flowserve to a 3-1 win at County Hall (16005266)
Danny Meadows inspired Flowserve to a 3-1 win at County Hall (16005266)

Skipper Tom Potts finally succumbed to a troubling injury and was left out of the 16, with Kyle Dixon taking the armband and Jahren Barren partnering Lawrence Gorman in central defence in his first start for the men in orange.

Ben Hutchinson returned up front to link up with Sam Agar and Elliot King and that, coupled with Jack Beckett’s retention in midfield, meant that Cotton and Meadows were relegated to the bench.

Flowserve, the pre-match favourites, showed their intent after just three minutes when good work in midfield by Dixon set up Agar and he made space for himself on the edge of the box only for the resultant shot to fly high and wide.

The intent was clear, and two minutes later Flowserve were ahead. Two shots were blocked before the ball fell to left-back Jack Andrews and he hit a thunderous left-footed strike from 35 yards that the home keeper could only help into the roof of the net.

Flowserve nerves were settled, and the travelling supporters settled back for a goal feast against the Leicestershire Senior Premier Division underdogs. If only; it would have been an easier watch in the late August sunshine.

County Hall hadn’t read the script, and they looked comfortable in possession, with their number ten and skipper Connor Hughes at the heart of all their forward forays, and the possessor of a magic wand of a left foot.

On 14 minutes Barrow was dispossessed by Louis Bishop on the edge of his own box, only for the County Hall man to shoot wide of the advancing Joe Searson to the relief of the visiting fans, who accounted for 38 of the attendance of 57.

That, apparently, was County Hall’s highest attendance for three years, but the gulf between the two clubs certainly wasn’t being reflected on the field as some of Flowserve’s passing was wayward while the final ball always eluded its intended target.

On 20 minutes Andrews again stung the keeper’s fingers with a driven cross, and then Dixon’s free-kick from the left found King in front of goal only for his header to go straight into the hands of the keeper.

Sam Collins’ attempted diving header just failed to connect with a tempting cross from the left as County Hall threatened again on the half hour, and then a corner from the same player six minutes before the break flew across the goal without a home player able to get a touch to reward them for their efforts.

There was only the solitary goal separating the sides as they came out after the interval, and the Leicestershire side emerged the more rejuvenated by their cuppas.

Scott Machin fired in a direct free-kick two minutes into the second period which was blocked, and his follow-up was narrowly over the angle of crossbar and post.

Just before the hour mark it was all level, when that man Machin made no mistake from another direct free-kick after earlier setting his sights.

On 64 minutes Dixon’s corner from the right found the head of Agar but home keeper Dan Hanley again reacted superbly to tip the effort over the bar.

Enter the subs with 69mins on the clock. Four minutes had elapsed when Meadows hit the by-line on the right and crossed for Cotton to convert at the far post, and the Wembley dream was back on.

Three minutes from the end Cotton crossed from the left and the ball struck the ankles of Tom Fane before trickling over the line out of the reach of Hanley.

Flowserve live to fight another day and, for the record, there are just nine more steps to Wembley.

Newark Flowserve: 1 Joe Searson; 2 Ryan Ebanks; 3 Jack Andrews; 4 Jahren Barrow; 5 Lawrence Gorman; 6 Paulo Piliero (Jammy Lloyd 79mins); 7 Jack Beckett; 8 Kyle Dixon (captain); 9 Ben Hutchinson; 10 Sam Agar (Danny Meadows 69mins); 11 Elliot King (Matt Cotton 69mins).

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