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Early FA Trophy exit for injury-hit Kendal Town
Kendal Town 0
Cammell Laird 2
FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round Replay
KENDAL Town were knocked out of their second cup competition in three days after struggling to cope with the challenge of lively Cammell Laird.
Despite a bright start which saw Kevin Leadbetter hit a sweet volley just over the bar after two minutes, Kendal failed to impose themselves on the game.
No doubt the list of injuries – with six players sidelined – was partly to blame, but credit must be given to the Merseyside team, whose pressing game high up the pitch meant Town were unable to settle into any kind of rhythm.
That said, Kendal did have two great chances – including a shot which was cleared off the line - but they could have no complaints at being beaten by a team who, despite being a league below them, were their equal on the night.
Town’s midfield set up in a diamond formation - with Ian Kilford at the base, Simon Wills and captain Alex Randell ahead of him, and Leadbetter at the tip, occasionally drifting to the right to support the ambitious runs down the right flank by Naim El-Harrati.
There were encouraging signs for Kendal in the first 20 minutes, with Randell working hard to find pockets of space and to link play, and home debutant Sefton Gonzales making a nuisance of himself up front.
But as the first half wore on it was the visitors who began to take control.
Keen to stretch the play down both wings, Cammell fed their impressive wingers Aaron Bowen and Aiden Houghton at any opportunity to exploit the space behind Kendal’s adventurous full-backs El-Harrati and Danny Williams.
And the Wirral team’s efforts paid off when their wingers combined for the opening goal on 30 minutes – Bowen’s corner from the right was met at the near post by the unmarked Houghton, whose header was too powerful for Craig Dootson to keep out.
This should have galvanised Kendal, yet their build-up play became laboured.
They wanted time to put their foot on the ball and spot a pass, but Cammell were always snapping at their heels, while Town’s on-loan striker Chris Mason was kept under control by commanding centre-back Lee Atherton.
The start of the second-half saw manager Lee Ashcroft switching to a 4-5-1, with Mason replaced by Scott Harries, who went to the right while Leadbetter switched to the left.
Within six minutes of the restart good work by Leadbetter led to a shot by Harries which was easily saved by Cammell’s Kevin Atherton.
Cammell continued to threaten, winning two corners before striker Joe Feeney was bundled over in front of goal on 55 minutes for the first of their two penalties.
Feeney stepped up but was foiled by the feet of Dootson, whose save sparked Kendal into a brief period of action and led to their two best chances, helped in part by a switch to a more orthodox 4-4-2 after substitute Dave Foster went up front having replaced Kilford.
First a terrific low cross from the left by Williams was met with a superb first time strike from close range by Foster, tipped over brilliantly by Atherton. Then the resulting corner saw a chance cleared off the line.
But the excitement for the home crowd was short-lived as just six minutes later, Houghton skipped past two challenges on the left to deliver a dangerous cross which was handled in the area by Paul Alexander, who was booked for his trouble.
Feeney’s replacement Jamie Henders stepped up and slotted home from the spot to finish off Kendal’s hopes of FA Trophy glory for another year.
From then on, Kendal seemed completely deflated and failed to create another chance before the final whistle confirmed their exit from the competition.
Craig Dootson, Naim El-Harrati, Danny Williams, Paul Alexander, Rory Winters, Simon Wills, Alex Randell (c), Chris Mason, Sefton Gonzales, Ian Kilford, Kevin Leadbetter.
Subs: Scott Harries for Mason (H-T), Dave Foster for Kilford (59).
Subs not used: Ben Fishwick, Liam Shields, Josh Welsby.
Yellow cards: Kilford, Randell, Alexander
Key man: Alex Randell - never stopped running and constantly tried to get Kendal moving.
Kevin Atherton, Steve Ferrigan, Chay Dysart, Mike Grogan, Dan O’Brian, Lee Atherton, John Couch, Aaron Bowen, Joe Feeney, Joe Gibiluru, Aiden Houghton.
Subs: Jamie Henders for Feeney (63), Freddie Potter for Houghton (80), Marc Stephens for Bowen (90)
Sub not used: Sean Richards