LEE Wort came up trumps again as super Sholing triumphantly booked their place in the FA Vase semi-finals at the Silverlake Arena this afternoon. As in the last round, the 22-year-old striker from St Mary’s emerged as the match winner in a 1-0 victory over Cambridgeshire outfit Wisbech Town in front of a 426-strong crowd.
The visitors started positively, forcing a couple of early free-kicks on the flanks.
Sholing competed well but took their time to settle offensively, registering their first shot on target on nine minutes when Lee Wort brought the ball down on the left and unleashed a firm angled shot which keeper Carl Macnee was solidly behind. Three minutes later, Wort popped up on the right of the area, played in by a raking pass by fit-again right-back Mike Carter, but Wisbech player-manager Paul Cousins stood up well in front of the striker, whose shot was high. The Boatmen kept up the pressure by forcing a couple of corners on the left but, from the second one, Wisbech broke and Callum Reed fired a long-range effort wide.
The Fenmen then appealed in vain for a penalty for handball when Stuart Cobb’s header brushed against home skipper Byron Mason, but it was an optimistic shout to say the least. The Boatmen upped the temp and created the best chance to date on 20 minutes when Barry Mason burst down the right and skipped past two defenders inside the area.
He squared for Wort, but the ball arrived slightly behind the lethal marksman, who dug out a shot but dragged it wide.
Wisbech then went close from a set-piece – Cobb winning another header, Cousins having a shot blocked and Adam Millson firing across goal and wide. The break-through came just before the half-hour – and it went Sholing’s way.
With the visitors playing a high line defensively, Ashley Jarvis brilliantly controlled the ball inside the centre circle, turned and played WORT through one-on-one with last defender Cousins.
There was only going to be one winner with the nifty No. 9 pulling out slightly to the left and rolling the ball into the far corner. Wisbech responded with a hard-hit Danny White effort from the right by-line which stung keeper Matt Brown’s hands and, fortunately for Sholing, the ball landed out of harm’s way. Sholing were looking lively however and, on 40 minutes, Bryon Mason headed wide from a Marc Diaper free-kick awarded for a foul on his brother, Barry.
But there was a scare for the Boatmen just before half-time when, following good passing football by the visitors, Reed unleashed a blast from the right which rattled the outside of the post.
Half-time: SHOLING 1 WISBECH 0 The game ebbed and flowed at the start of the second-half with neither goalkeeper unduly troubled.
When he was called into action, Wisbech’s Macney sprinted positively out of his area to cut out Wort’s ball over the top, arriving just ahead of Barry Mason. As the half progressed the visitors were seeing more of the possession and, on the hour, Sholing’s giant centre-back Pete Castle made a rare error inside the area but recovered quickly with a perfectly timed tackle on White and scraped the ball away for a corner. Manager Dave Diaper responded to the pressure by taking off Jarvis and throwing on Alex Sawyer to shore-up midfield.
Sholing had a sniff of a chance when Marc Diaper set Marvin McLean away, but Neal Spafford kept up with the speedy winger and shepherded the ball salfey back to the keeper.
But Wisbech were slowly winding up the pressure and, as in the last round against Larkhall, the Boatmen were riding their luck defensively and becoming increasingly reliant on breakaways. By, little by little, the home side composed themselves again and, on 70-minutes Sawyer laid the ball off to Carter who did well to work himself space, but shot over from 20 yards. Tyronne Bowers then made a rare surge into the opposition box, latching onto Wort’s pass but his drag-back from the by-line just eluded Bryon Mason. There was another scare for Sholing on 75 minutes when Wisbech broke down the left and White laid the ball back to sub Kieron Doherty who powered a superb first time strike wide from distance.
The visitors went closer still two minutes later when Reed hit the woodwork for a second time. This time the No. 7 let fly from 30 yards out on the right and saw his effort strike the foot of the far post with keeper Brown beaten.
With time running out and Wisbeck left with no option but to go all out for an equaliser, Sholing had the chance to exploit gaps at the back. And, on 80 minutes, Barry Mason won an important header to send Wort surging through but Macney denied him with a smart block. Wisbech threw everything they could at Sholing and the announcement of four minutes of added time was probably the last thing the home side wanted to hear.
But, as against Larkhall, Brown’s handling was assured under pressure and he was well protected by inspired defensive work from Carter, Diaper, Lee Bright and man-of-the-match Castle on another historic afternoon for the Portsmouth Road club.