Soham Town Rangers equal best ever FA Trophy performance with replay win over St Ives Town
Soham Town Rangers have set up a second qualifying round clash away to Hayes & Yeading United, to equal the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division club’s best ever Buildbase FA Trophy run.
The Step 4 team beat higher-league St Ives Town (BetVictor Southern Premier Central) by a comfortable 3-0 scoreline in Tuesday’s first round qualifying replay at Julius Martin Lane, following Saturday’s 0-0 draw.
It sees them progress to this stage – arranged away on Wednesday, November 13 – for the first time since the 2013/14 season, with the club only making it this far three times previously.
But Robbie Mason’s men were more than good value for the victory across the two games, offering the biggest threat on goal in Saturday’s game before following up with a Sam Mulready brace and Ryan Auger score on Tuesday.
Manager Mason said: “It’s a good result obviously but I thought we were poor first half and it was disappointing after how we left off on Saturday.
“Our main concern was keeping that level of performance going into the game, but I think we stepped off it a little. We started a little shakily and we looked nervous.
“You hear things about them being short on numbers and suffering with injury, so the lads naturally relaxed a bit thinking ‘they’re short on numbers, they’re going to have to change things and play people out of position’, it’s difficult not to. I think it took a rocket to sort of refocus them with the half-time talk.”
St Ives were on the front foot for the first 20 minutes, before Mulready wrestled away their confidence with a goal in the 25th minute; it was chalked off for offside but it was a key turning point, with Soham increasingly getting forward.
They were unlucky not to find a way through from a goalmouth scramble five minutes later before Josh Pope was then needed to prevent Soham conceding at the other end.
It was a game full of chances and action in the two boxes but neither side found a way through until the stroke of half-time, with a deft touch from Mulready.
A well-weighted ball into the box, timed by a run between the central defenders, created space to allow him to side foot behind into the far corner for a 1-0 lead at the break.
Soham were then awarded a penalty in the 50th minute, which Mulready put away for a 2-0 lead.
The same player was unlucky not to bag a hat-trick in the 59th minute, as his shot came off the crossbar, but Auger was on hand to net the rebound and, effectively, end the contest.
The energy of attacks died down as the frantic pace took its toll, but there were further chances for both, with St Ives never giving up.
Mason added: “I asked for a reaction at half-time, which we obviously got so I’m pleased; really, really pleased.
“They had chances and had a few good spells but we defended well and defended with our bodies on the line, which is great to see.
“We didn’t really settle down until we scored, just before half-time. It saved them from a little bit of an ear bashing but they were still told we expect better, no matter who the opposition is.
“And they came out and showed that. A penalty obviously helped but it was another clean sheet for us, which is a massive thing for us.
“They’re short on numbers and going through injury, I think they have nine or 10 players out at the moment, but you can only beat the team put in front of you.
“And they’re all part of that Step 3 squad so it does show that momentum is massive.”
Soham: Pope, Conway, Russell, Okay, Watson, Groves (Chaffey 84’), Clayton, Auger (Jake Andrews 77’), Newman, Mulready, Toby Andrews (Brown 70’)
Journal Player of The Tie – Ryan Auger: Across the two games he stood out and deserved a goal for his efforts. There was a number of contenders, but Auger’s reading of the play was vital.
* Soham are away to basement side Romford on Saturday (3pm) in a return to league action. Last season, they won the home match 4-0, but lost 5-2 away at Garden Walk.
Mason said: “A potential banana skin there, they’re a difficult team – they’re up and they’re down – but we’re ready to focus.
“The club and the squad have made massive strides over the last three or four months and hopefully now the performances are matching that.
“Last season we were fighting them to stay out of the relegation zone but things are different now. We are now looking at the top half of the table and play-offs rather than the other way so this run leading up to Christmas is massive in getting some points on the board.”