Sheppey United progressed through from the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round with a comfortable 4-1 win on the road at Tower Hamlets.
Manager Ernie Batten made changes to both his formation and personnel which included giving a full competitive debut to Luke Carey and resting club captain Jack Midson who took a place on the bench.
Junior Aikhionbare caused havoc down the flanks all game and this was demonstrated as early as the 5th minute when he pulled the ball back to Carey who shot wide of the mark.
The Ites then forced successive corners, with the first one seeing Sains meet Wilson’s cross only for it to be blocked out. 3 minutes later an exchange between Bennett and Aikhionbare won another corner – Allan this time meeting Carey’s cross but heading wide. On 12 minutes Hamlets had the best opportunity of the game – Wale Odedoyin volleying wide when left one-on-one with Molloy with all the time in the world.
With 23 minutes on the clock a Hamlets back pass was over hit beyond their goalkeeper – James Jeffrey getting close to making them pay but the keeper redeemed himself and tipped the ball out for a corner. Five minutes later Sheppey were shouting for a penalty after Junior Aikhionbare swung in a cross with the outside of his boot which hit the hand of a defender but the ref wasn’t interested in awarding a penalty. On the half hour mark a deep cross from Dan Birch evaded Aikhionbare but found left back Ben Wilson who fired a first time shot which the keeper palmed away.
With Billy Bennett playing a more advanced role than in the previous two Ites games he was a constant threat to the Hamlets backline whenever he picked-up the ball – and on 37 minutes a through ball to Jeffrey almost found the young forward clean through only for a defender to win the foot race. The pressure and domination from the Ites continued and five minutes before half-time Junior Aikhionbare rattled the underside of the crossbar with a powerful left footed shot.
Half-time: Tower Hamlets 0 Sheppey United 0
Early in the 2nd half great blocking and sliding tackle by Jahmal Howlett-Mundle prevented the home side from opening-up a shooting opportunity. Howlett-Mundle was operating in a holding midfield role during the game and had a very solid and measured game – certainly something for Ernie Batten to consider using again.
Another surging run by Aikhionbare on 49 minutes saw Hamlets’ Tola Odedoyin booked for a clinical foul on the Ites man. Billy Bennett then had a shot saved before Odedoyin was sent off for a second yellow card – this time for hauling down James Jeffrey. The resulting free-kick was shot straight into the net by Ites captain Billy Bennett – a fitting 29th birthday celebration for the Ites man on 59 minutes.
Two minutes later the Ites almost doubled their lead – Ben Wilson getting forward again to hit a cross towards Jeffrey only for a defender to slide in and deflect the ball against the post!
New midfield signing Luke Griffiths was introduced with 25 minutes to go in place of Ryan Freeman and the Ites went on to score a minute later – the Hamlets keeper losing the ball to Bennett who squared to James Jeffrey to tap home for 2-0.
Two more substitutes were then introduced to the field of play – Michael Hagan and Richie Hamill both getting minutes in the legs in place of Junior Aikhionbare and Luke Carey. It was Hagan who then stretched Sheppey’s lead – his initial shot palmed by the keeper before calmly placing the ball in the net for 3-0 on 79 minutes.
A run forward by Dan Birch on the right flank on 82 minutes had a low cross find Bennett who’s first time attempt flew wide of the far post. Wale Odedoyin scored a consolation goal for the hosts in the closing minutes before James Jeffrey grabbed his second of the game to wrap-up a 4-1 victory.
Sheppey will now host Saltdean United on the 21st August in the next round.
Full-Time: Tower Hamlets 1 Sheppey United 4
Sheppey starting 11: 1. Molloy; 12. Birch, 2. Wilson, 20. Allan, 5. Sains; 4. Howlett-Mundle, 19. Freeman, 16. Carey; 8. Bennett, 15. Aikhionbare 9. Jeffrey
Sheppey subs used: 14. Griffiths (for Freeman), 6. Hamill (for Carey), 22. Hagan (for Aikhionbare)
Sheppey subs not used: 21. Northwood, 3. Smith, 10. Midson, 17. Tenyue
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