Analysis: Another early Cup exit no laughing matter for Telford
There is probably a joke in how the Bucks’ interest in the FA Cup rarely seems to last beyond the end of September.
But after this home defeat to Coalville Town, it’d be a brave person who tried to tell that joke to any of the club’s supporters.
Kevin Wilkin’s team were slowly overpowered by a Coalville side who have been together as a unit for much longer, and who showed how much further there is to go for the Bucks before they become a solid, contending outfit.
Wilkin has placed his faith in a blend of youth and experience, and when the two mesh the results can be exhilarating.
However, it’s also true that the excitement and exuberance of youth are invariably accompanied by impetuosity, unregulated emotions and errors of judgement that those factors give rise to.
Two of Wilkin’s young Bucks will have learnt greatly from this result.
Steffan Jones’ rash penalty area challenge led to the game’s only goal, an Eliot Putman penalty kick, and while Ty Webster’s late red card for raising his hands to Coalville skipper Joe Doyle-Charles didn’t cost his side the game, his incoming three-match suspension will hurt both Webster and his team.
The Bucks’ FA Cup record in the 20 seasons since the club’s reformation is patchy at best.
For those generations raised on the exploits of Stan Storton’s 1980s side, and those subsequent generations who long to see something similar, the Cup represents an opportunity for glory, but the financial boost a Cup run generates has the potential to sow the seeds for an upsurge in the club’s fortunes.
The disappointment of falling short in this game was palpable for all those reasons.
Injuries ruled out both captain Fraser Kerr and George Forsyth, with Kerr’s knee ligament strain a legacy of some ‘bodies on the line’ defending against Halesowen in the Bucks’ previous game.
Jared Hodgkiss made his first start for the Bucks in place of Kerr and took the captaincy, while Byron Moore, both missing and missed on Bank Holiday Monday, returned in midfield.
Wilkin’s side made a positive start – whether that was partially as a reaction to the perceived negativity of their performance against Halesowen is something only they will know – however, things looked promising when Coalville keeper Paul White was forced to react to turn away a Montel Gibson header after only three minutes. After 10 minutes, White chose to head the ball clear of his penalty area, directing it straight to Bucks midfielder Jordan Piggott, who tried to loft the ball back over the stranded White but missed the target from 30 yards.
Coalville responded, and Doyle-Charles served a warning to the Bucks when he took aim in space from 25 yards. His shot beat Brandon Hall’s dive to his left, but the ball rebounded off the inside of the post and across the face of the goal to safety.
Ricardo Dinanga contributed to his side’s best moment of the half, and probably the game. Moving on to Ellis Myles’ ball into the box, Dinanga’s backheel into the path of Gibson opened the Ravens’ defence, but Gibson drilled the ball low and hard, wide of White’s right-hand post. The contest was finely balanced, still there to be won but with both sides probably aware that a single mistake could be the difference on the day.
And the moment that defined the game was to emerge on the hour.
It began with the Bucks losing possession in the Coalville half, and their efforts to get it back were lacklustre. Coalville sprung forward and eventually found Tim Berridge on the left. The forward got into the box and was looking to cut across Jones and back into danger when Jones thrust out a leg and toppled him. It was a clear penalty kick.
Jones lay face down on the turf, immediately aware of how costly his error might prove, and Putman made him suffer further. A little shuffle on the spot and minimal back-lift sent the ball rocketing past Hall, into the top corner past the keeper’s left hand.
The Bucks had half an hour to respond, but their efforts were largely muted. Substitute Tre Mitford tried to fire his side level but hit a rasping 25-yard shot over White’s crossbar, and Webster and Gibson both took pot-shots, trying to find something, anything to get their side level.
Hall kept the Bucks in it with a great save as a two-on-two counter-attack became a one-on-one.
In six minutes added on to the game for stoppages, Webster raised his hands to Doyle-Charles and was shown a red card. Two minutes later, it was all over, and the Bucks were out.
Telford: Hall, Myles, Hodgkiss, Piggott, Jones, Pendley, Dinanga (Walker 69) Yusuf (Bood 54), Gibson, Webster, Moore (Mitford 79). Subs not used: Scott, McQuilkin, West.
Coalville: White, Putman, Hutchings, Carter, McGlinchey, Pepe-Ngoma, Doyle-Charles, Shaw, York, Berridge (Towers 83), Cook (Chambers 63). Subs not used: Laban, Dean, Pennant, Thanoj.