Sporting Khalsa served up a Halloween horror show, dismally crashing out of the FA Vase with barely a whimper in Derbyshire.
It’s impossible to claim the home side – who play in the Northern Counties Eastern League – were fortunate to get the result. The fact is they completely deserved their win over a Khalsa side which, despite a long unbeaten run, has not performed well for some time.
The visitors were slow to start and only marginally stepped up the pace while the home side were enthusiastic in the tackle, game in their running and stout in their defending.
The home side took the lead early, their top scorer Jake Currie finishing in style as the ball broke quickly following a surrendering of possession in midfield and the defence appealed in vain for offside.
It sparked a reaction of sorts, Khalsa did push forward and, in fairness, did spend most of the match on the attack but poor composure, poor finishing and a fine performance by home keeper James Dean – a giant between the sticks – meant it came to nothing.
Tes Robinson – who might have single-handedly grabbed a hat trick in this game – headed over on 23 minutes from a Nicky Campbell corner and a minute later Dave Meese put a fine cross in for Mensah Kinch but the finish lacked any of the bite of the centre.
James Dean did his side’s cause no harm when he saved well from Marvin Nisbett on 27 minutes from a good Brad Lawley cross while two minutes later at the other end Anthony Rowley might have done better after he latched onto a defensive lapse by Robinson and did well to carve out a shooting opportunity, only to fire straight at James Pemberton.
On 36 minutes Shirebrook should really have extended their lead, only for Matty Ord to fluff a really good chance with the goal at his mercy.
A clearly frustrated Ian Rowe introduced Callum Cooper at the break, bringing the wide man on for Lawley.
Dean again denied Nisbett on 58 minutes, Kinch’s cross finding the striker in a good position, the header destined for the back of the net and only the keeper’s fingertips preventing an equaliser. Two minutes later, Liam Greenfield worked his way into the area and shot tamely, providing another warning to Khalsa that their wastefulness might be punished.
Robinson had another chance shortly afterwards, Joe Rogers heading a Kinch centre to the centre-half who could only direct the ball over the bar.
Then came the decisive period of play that determined the whole match. First Bannister was denied by a good save by Dean on 68 minutes before seconds later Shirebrook broke and Rowley fired into the side netting from a good position. But then moments after that, Carlo Franco’s slip at the back gave Rowley another opportunity and this time he made no mistake, knocking the ball past Pemberton and tapping into an empty net.
It was no more than the home side deserved and, although Khalsa continued to press, one final save by Dean – fittingly once again from Robinson – was the closest they would come to scoring.
Sporting Khalsa: James Pemberton; Carlo Franco, Nicky Campbell (captain), Joe Rogers, Tes Robinson; Mike Perks (Ben Hadley), Brad Lawley (Callum Cooper), Dave Meese, Marvin Nisbett, Mensah Kinch (Michael Nelson); Craig Bannister.