Daniel's double helps Stockwood secure cup success over Nailsea
DANIEL Jones was at the double to help see Stockwood Green past the third round hurdle of the Somerset Senior Cup following a highly-charged encounter with Nailsea United.
Jones, performing the role of lone front man to potent effect, struck twice after the break with expert finishes to put his team in command against their league rivals and Somerset County top-flight champions Nailsea.
But the visitors continued to battle hard and, with a bit more luck, might easily have levelled up the contest before time was blown on their hopes.
Nailsea boss Mark Savage blamed careless defending for his team's inability to take the tie by the scruff of the neck and they certainly looked the more threatening at the start. Matt Long blazed a free-kick over the top, while skipper James Springett sent Stuart Lee away with a clever lofted pass, which the striker lifted over advancing keeper Jez Harem, but wide of the target.
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Stockwood showed occasional glimpses of promise, too, and Isaac Sulyman exchanged passes with the lively Nat Brain, who sprinted through the middle, only to be denied a crack at goal by a crunching block challenge by Nailsea left-back Chris Lawrence.
It was the hosts who made the breakthrough after 19 minutes. Jason Hawkins drove the ball towards the edge of the penalty area, where Jake James was lurking to sweep it first time into the corner of the net.
As Nailsea tried to respond, Lawrence volleyed Ellis Wilmot's high and wide and a neat move ended with Springett firing wide of the far post.
The pressure paid off as Nailsea hauled themselves level 12 minutes from the interval. Lee delivered a perfect cross to the back post, where an unmarked Long was powered a header into the roof of the net.
That sparked a frantic spell of activity at both ends of the pitch, as Brain rattled an angled right-footer into the side netting for Stockwood, while Springett was a whisker away from connecting with Wilmot's right-sided delivery for Nailsea at the far post.
Yet, all the away side's encouraging work was unhinged within the first minute of the second half. Sulyman's ball forward found its way through to Jones and he did well to steady himself before shooting past keeper Scott Kendall, who had raced from his line, and into the net.
Wilmot steered a header wide from Josh Benjamin's cross as Nailsea sought a rapid response, but it only got worse for them 15 minutes into the second half. Sam Long had just replaced the hobbling Harry Hope in an enforced United switch when James clipped a left-sided ball into the area for Jones to score his second with a glancing header into the far corner of the net.
Still, Stockwood could not shake their opponents off their coat tails and when Lawrence was tripped inside the box, Long completed a brace of his own by sending Hare the wrong way from the spot.
At 3-2 down, Nailsea pushed for an equaliser, but again they suffered a major setback, moments after making a 70th-minute change which saw Steve Clarke replacing right midfielder Josh Benjamin. A corner into the Nailsea six-yard box sparked a goalmouth melee and Stockwood substitute Tristan Hawkins forced the ball over the line. He took a blow to his body in the throes of scoring, but was able to return to his position for the restart.
There looked to be no way back for Nailsea, although Ware did have to spring into action again to turn Springett's thumping attempt behind, while Kendall did likewise at the opposite end in acrobatically tipping Sulyman's 20-yard effort over his bar.
Two minutes from time, Nailsea set up a feverish finale by pulling another goal back, courtesy of centre-back James Taylor's header from a Wilmot corner.
Tempers, too, reached boiling point and referee Mark Vipond felt moved to book four players – three from Stockwood.
Nailsea continued to huff and puff in desperate search of a tie-saving leveller, but had given themselves too much to do as Stockwood made it through to the quarter-finals.
Stockwood Green: Jez Hare, Sam Wheller, Matt Stannard (Tristan Hawkins, 60), Stuart Oppery, Craig Carter, Nat Brain, Jason Hawkins, Steve Ratcliffe, Jake James, Isaac Sulyman, Daniel Jones. Not used: Simon Lee, Nick Reynolds
Nailsea Utd: Scott Kendall, Rob Brown, Steve Lester (Ryan King, 82), James Taylor, Chris Lawrence, Josh Benjamin (Steve Clarke, 70), Ellis Wilmot, James Springett, Harry Hope (Sam Long, 56), Stuart Lee, Matt Long. Not used: James Lee