Buildbase FA Vase

Second Qualifying Round

Whitchurch Alport 4

Nuneaton Griff 1

A STEVE Jones hat-trick helped Alport into the first round proper of the Buildbase FA Vase at Yockings Park on Saturday.

Joe Cuff was also on the scoresheet for Whitchurch who were in command throughout this tie from virtually first whistle to last. By the time Cuff had guided the Reds into the lead after four minutes with a neat finish beyond Joe Salisbury, Jones had already been denied by the Nuneaton stopper.

Alport swarmed all around the Griff penalty box in the early exchanges with Jud Ellis also testing Salisbury who was single-handedly keeping his side afloat.

Remarkably, despite Alport’s dominance and the gulf in class so obvious, Nuneaton drew level after 16 minutes to stun the home supporters.

Keeper Dave Parton was left exposed and with Alport claiming a foul in the build-up, Ross Proudlock could not believe his luck when he was left with just Parton to beat and all the goal in front of him.

Nuneaton’s joy – and amazement – was short lived.

Jones was on hand to chest the ball down and volley smartly past Salisbury from 10 yards to profit from a decent knockdown by Stu Dickin.

Alport were not at their best defensively and there was a let off when Michael Collins netted for Griff only to see the linesman’s flag raised on the far side.

The Reds came again and were playing some beautiful football from an attacking sense and it took a great headed clearance by Jordan Stain to repel Jones’ precision header from a Cuff cross.

Jones may be in the twilight of his career but his experience from having played internationally for Northern Ireland is invaluable. Jones has always been a goalscorer and his second for Alport could well be up there with the best of them.

A jinking run carrying pace, agility and strength opened the route for him to attempt for goal, but it still looked like a tall task to expect the execution. Reds fans need not have worried as he curled an absolute beauty just past the flailing hand of Salisbury and into the top corner.

With the first half into added on time the visitors were denied what looked like a stonewall penalty when Parton mis-controlled the ball and appeared to foul Collins.

With the whole bench and virtually the entire team screaming for the pen, the ref who was miles away from the incident, waved play on. It would be almost the last time that Nuneaton would spend in the Whitchurch half.

The half-time team talk in the away dressing room appeared to be all about damage limitation as for almost the entire second 45, Alport stayed in possession with a wall of blue shirts behind the ball.

Cuff brought the save of the match from Salisbury with 20 minutes to go and three minutes later Jones completed his treble. Substitute Alex Hughes flicked on the header and Jones was away to go into a head-to-head confrontation with Salisbury.

His finish was textbook and he might have had another goal to celebrate had an offside flag not been raised shortly after.

Last Saturday, Alport bowed out of the FA Cup but with a realistic chance of progression if the draws are favourable, then pipe dreams of Wembley might yet be realised in the Vase.

The next round will be played on Saturday, October 12.