Second half goals from James Constable and Peter Leven sent United through at the second attempt against Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup tonight. Having secured a replay in the last minute of injury time at the Crown Ground United made no mistake in front of their own fans, sealing a meeting with Sheffield United in the cup for the second season in a row,.
After a scrappy first fifteen minutes there was the worrying sight of Adam Chapman limping off with what looked like a serious injury to his right foot, meaning that Lee Cox got an early chance to impress from the bench.
United then had the first chance of the night as Damian Batt’s cross set up Constable for a shot from 15 yards which Aristote Nsiala bravely blocked. The same player then did well to nod Michael Rayne’s hooked effort clear from the corner, just one of many dangerous set pieces from Peter Leven.
Sean Rigg then glided a header just wide after 23 minutes from another excellent cross from the dangerous Batt and United had established control of the match without really threatening to find a way through. Rigg’s pace on the left looked their most likely route, especially with marker Nsiala booked for scything him down on 38 minutes, while Constable’s 41st minute drive was a close as we were to come in the first half, keeper Paul Rachubka plunging to his left to hold the low drive.
The second half continued in a similar pattern with United enjoying the lion’s share of possession and the visitors happy to take time out of the game, sit deep and look to grab something on the break. However the roles were reversed on 65 as Potter nicked the ball deep inside his own half and set off on a run before feeding Constable to his right. He cut inside and fired in a low left footed shot which Rachubka saved well to concede a corner.
The danger with thinking you are off the hook by giving United a corner is that you then face Leven’s dead ball delivery. His corner was beautifully flighted and Constable timed his run to perfection to soar in front of his man and head his side into the lead with a powerful downwards header.
Accrington had looked a shadow of the side that pushed United so hard in the first tie with a Lee Molyneux free kick over the bar on 74 their best effort and Clarke untested until the 76th minute when he spilled another Molyneux ball in but dived on it just as it looked like crawling over the line. Goal-line technology can wait...
The visitors' Plan B was more dangerous than their Plan A but just when they were starting to look dangerous they fell for the sucker punch after 80 minutes as United booked their passage through to the Third Round. More hard running from Alfie Potter on the right pushed his team forward. Batt crossed, Constable set the ball back and Leven showed customary technique to smash a difficult volley past Rachubka with real panache from outside the box. A good goal and United now had breathing space.
They go on to face The Blades at the Kassam Stadium on January 5th, with tickets on sale at 9.30 on Wednesday morning. Book your place, it should be a cracker.
Report by Chris Williams, Pictures by Steve Daniels, Stats by PA Sports
Tonight’s 50/fifty winning number 261382 wins £546
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