Blackfield & Langley’s FA Vase dream ended in a 3-2 defeat in a pulsating all-Sydenhams Premier tie at Bemerton Heath this afternoon.
Having come back from 2-0 down, Ashley Vickers’ Watersiders were sunk by a dramatic Danny Young winner in the third of ten minutes’ stoppage time.
With winger Ekow Elliott providing a good outlet for Blackfield, much of the early part of the game took place in the Bemerton half until, with nine minutes gone, Harlequins made headway down the right and visiting keeper Steve Mowthorpe had to be alert to gather Jack Slade’s overhead cross from the by-line.
Joe Sanger then powered down the left and delivered a dangerous cross for Young, who failed to make full contact with his shot.
Blackfield responded when Dom Allen found Elliott unmarked on the right of the area but, although he managed to squeeze the ball past keeper Grant Porter from a tight angle, it ran harmlessly across the goal face.
It was Bemerton who took the lead in the 19th minute courtesy of skipper Slade.
Sanger played in SLADE, who made his way towards the right of the area before balancing himself and firing a superb low shot past Mowthorpe into the far corner.
Elliott’s nifty footwork took him past two Bemerton defenders in the 25th minute, but he couldn’t find a finish to match the quality of his approach work.
The game took a double twist on the half-hour with two goals in the space of a minute.
The Harlequins doubled their advantage when Ollie Roe’s high ball into the box was dropped by Mowthorpe and YOUNG capitalised with a close-range finish.
But, Blackfield replied in a matter of seconds when Dave Ewen collected the ball from Elliott on the right and delivered into the six-yard box for ALLEN to fire high into the roof of the net.
With the game remarkably open, Alex Baldacchino had a couple of one-on-ones for Blackfield and, on the stroke of half-time, Kev Gibbens shot on to the top of the unguarded Bemerton net after Porter had come charging out of goal.
The Watersiders made most of the running at the start of the second half, but their momentum was checked when two of their defenders, Mike and Joe Byrne, clashed heads and required lengthy treatment. Both eventually resumed play sporting bandages and a change of shirt.
Blackfield picked up where they had left off, camping in the home half. But the Harlequins defended manfully and did well to block Allen’s venomous blast after he had been set up by Gibbens’ by-line cross.
On 70 minutes Bemerton withdrew the tiring Sanger and brought on the fresh legs of Dan Bowman. Blackfield followed suit five minutes later, replacing Allen with wideman Paul Preston.
The visitors mounted a dangerous break in the 76th minute with Baldacchino scampering away and searching out Jake Rowley with a cross-field pass. But the quick-thinking Porter beat the mid-fielder to the ball as he raced to the corner of his area.
As the game suddenly opened up, Kane O’Keefe threatened for the Harlequins before Mowthorpe did well to beat away Eddie Perrett’s fierce angled shot.
Baldacchino then came close to an equaliser at the other end, but Porter pushed his low shot away, diving to his left.
Another couple of injury stoppages again slowed the game down, but it was the Harlequins who settled the quicker and twice came close to extending their lead through Slade and Young.
Instead it was Blackfield who set up a thrilling finale by equalising in the first minute of stoppage time.
Preston crossed from the left and it was fellow substitute BEN’yela NGWA who fired his side level.
But the Watersiders’ bubble was quickly burst when, just two minutes later, BOWMAN’s corner was flicked on by Slade and there was YOUNG waiting in the six-yard box to belt home the winner.