FA Cup First Qualifying Round Yate Town 3 Chippenham Town 2
THE personnel might have changed since last year's historic run to the first round proper, but Yate Town are continuing to enjoy a love affair with the FA Cup.
Once again the Bluebells relished the underdog tag with a fine victory over Southern League Premier Division side Chippenham Town taking them into the second qualifying round for the third year in a row, something they only achieved once before Rob Cousins became manager.
Ross Staley struck twice, taking his tally to three goals in two games in the competition, and 42-year-old assistant manager Michael Meaker was also on target after being handed a surprise start as Yate raced into a 3-1 lead after 53 minutes.
Joe McClennan, one of five ex-Yate players in the Chippenham squad, scored on his return to Lodge Road to cancel out Staley's opener in the first-half and Greg Tindale pulled a goal back with seven minutes remaining, but it was not enough for the visitors.
With Meaker starting alongside Ricky Hulbert up front, Lewis Haldane moved out wide and Staley on the other flank, Yate were potent going forward and clinical in front of goal.
Jake Cox almost opened the scoring after five minutes with a 25-yard free kick which Chippenham goalkeeper Ben John did well to tip the ball over the bar after taking a deflection off the wall.
Hulbert had two glorious chances to score against his hometown club when he was given acres of space in the box. Firstly, his header from ten yards out lacked power and was straight at John following Cox's deep cross before he fired wide from a tight angle after Meaker found him from the left byline.
Although Chippenham enjoyed a lot of possession and won a series of corners in the first half they rarely threatened before Yate took the lead in the 37th minute. After a run by Haldane was stopped the ball fell to Staley, who fired into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
However, that seemed to spur the visitors into life and they responded just six minutes later when McClennan cut in from the right and hit a fierce left-footed strike from 25 yards across goalkeeper Martin Horsell and into the net.
McClennan almost added a second on the cusp of half-time from a similar distance as he plucked the ball out of the air hit a sublime lob which had Horsell back-pedalling to make a spectacular save, keeping the ball out with his outstretched arm before Joe Chandler cleared.
Chippenham appeared to be in the ascendancy at the start of the second-half but Yate went back ahead with a superb counter-attack on 49 minutes. Haldane led the charge forward and fed Hulbert, who sent in a beautiful cross from the right and Meaker scored with a well-placed header past John's outstretched right hand.
Things got better for Yate four minutes later. Staley came short to receive a throw-in from the left before exchanging passes with Haldane and hitting the ball across John and into the net from 15 yards.
Yate should have wrapped it up when they had a four on one after a superb cross-field pass by Cox released Hulbert, but the striker opted to go alone and curled his shot wide.
Chippenham set up a nervy finish when James Guthrie's corner into a crowded penalty area went in off Greg Tindale's back.
It needed a good block by Mitch Harrison to stop Isaac Reid's shot going in deep in injury time as Yate hung on.
Yate Town: Horsell, Cox, Harrison, Chandler, Seery, Abraham, Haldane, Bryant (c), Meaker (Harmer, 88), Hulbert (Rogers, 80), Staley. Subs not used: Jackson, Felix, Lenihan, Lane, Dempsey.
Ref: Mr S England.
Gazette star man: Ross Staley - Took his goals superbly.
- Yate are at home to Paulton Rovers in the league on Tuesday (7.45pm).
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