Cox strikes twice to put United in the third round
TALBOT Knowle United made it through to the third round of the Gloucestershire Junior Cup after a 3-2 victory over Stoke Rangers.
A Kye Cox double and a Jamie Davies strike were enough for Talbot to go through. It could have been an even sweeter day for Cox, but he was denied a hat-trick after his second-half penalty was saved.
Stoke Rangers had taken the lead through left midfielder Grant Matthieson, who rounded off a wonderful flowing team move, while Nick Hingson's volley, within a minute of Talbot going 3-1 up, ensured that it would be a tense final ten minutes.
Rangers came close to drawing level in the final minute, as Ryan Rogers' header clipped the outside of a post.
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The game was played on a very difficult pitch, which was wet under foot and didn't help the game flow.
Both teams found it difficult to retain possession of the ball in the early exchanges and the teams could only muster a handful of half-chances between them.
The first effort on goal came from Stoke Rangers' Curtis Reid, but the midfielder's 30-yard strike bobbled harmlessly through to goalkeeper Emmanuelle Pullara.
The next chance of the game fell to United. Good play down the left between Alex Bateman and Jack Pullin found the latter on the edge of the Rangers penalty area with his back to goal. His smart turn took him away from two defenders, but his finish couldn't match his trickery and he shot straight at the keeper.
The breakthrough nearly came in spectacular and unusual circumstances. Bateman stood over a United free-kick just inside the Rangers half. His long ball into the box deceived everybody and nearly dropped into the back of the net. Ranger's keeper Tom Hughes had to scramble back under his crossbar and push the ball over.
It took half-an-hour for the first clear chance of the match and it was worth the wait. Despite the pitch becoming increasingly harder to play on, the opening goal came from a beautiful flowing move that started with the goalkeeper passing the ball out to his centre-back Ryan Rogers. Turning on the edge of his box, Rogers played a short pass into the feet of Reid, who passed the ball to left-winger Grant Matthieson. He played a one-two with Reid, before the midfielder flicked the ball beautifully over the defence to Matthieson who had carried on his run. He beat the offside trap and kept his composure while one-on-one with the keeper and placed his shot across the face of the keeper and into the far corner of the net.
The second half started as slowly as the first, with both teams again struggling to retain possession because of the pitch.
The first chance of the half fell to Cox on the hour mark. The striker latched on to a Davies flick-on, which had bounced awkwardly past the goalkeeper, who had come out to claim the ball. However, the keeper did brilliantly to get back and bravely dive at the feet of Cox and push the ball away for a corner.
The resulting corner was cleared to the edge of the penalty area, where Rich Griffin did brilliantly to block the clearance. It rebounded to the feet of Cox, who couldn't miss from four yards and tucked the ball away.
Talbot were now on top and passing the ball well, and five minutes later they had the chance to go ahead. Another corner caused confusion in the Rangers box and a header from Luke Sargent struck the hand of Ryan Rogers and the ref pointed to the spot. This looked harsh on Rogers, as the defender was stood no more than one yard away. But the keeper made a fantastic save down to his right from Cox's penalty and got up to save Paul Dite's headed rebound.
This only spurred United on and, soon after, they went in front through Cox, who made up for his penalty miss. A long ball forward from the goalkeeper was flicked on by Jamie Davies and Cox held off his marker to slot home beyond the onrushing goal keeper.
With ten minutes to go, United looked to have killed the game off thanks to Davies. The striker finished smartly from a great defence-splitting ball from Clifford Baker.
However, Rangers went straight up the other end and reduced the arrears when skipper Nick Hingston netted with a looping volley after Talbot right-back Joe Silvester had sliced his clearance.
Rangers came close to taking the game to penalties when Rogers' header in the final minute of the game clipped the post and bounced away for a goal-kick.
That proved to be the final action of the game as Talbot progressed through to the third round.
Talbot Knowle United (rolling substitutions): Emmanuelle Pullara, Carl Morgan, Luke Sargent, Rich Griffin, Alex Bateman, Clifford Baker, Alex Silvester, Joe Silvester, Jack Pullin, Jamie Davies, Kye Cox, Ryan Wittingham, Paul Dite.
Stoke Rangers (rolling substitutions): Tom Hughes, John Hingston, Ryan Rogers, Paul Noyes, Scott Rogers, Curtis Reid, Grant Matthieson, Nick Hingston, Matthew Parker, Joe Weare, Mark Woods, Mike Bennett