Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The 'W' Word

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The 'W' Word

Article excerpt

Byline: Non League Round-up

Billingham Synthonia took a massive step towards a dream date at Wembley with a terrific 2-1 FA Vase semi-final win away at AFC Totton.

A dogged display against the direct Southampton-based outfit gives them a crucial advantage going into next Saturday's second leg showdown at Central Avenue.

But all talk of Wembley has been banned. Cautious Synners boss Stuart Coleby insists they will not be distracted by the prospects of becoming the first North East team to play under the landmark arch at the new national stadium.

"No-one will be mentioning the 'W' word," he said. "We are only halfway there yet and Totton have shown us they pack quite a punch.

"We have the advantage now but we can't sit back. Totton will really come at us at our place so we are not there yet.

"We still have a very hard match to win on Saturday before we can even think about where the final might be played but they are a level-headed bunch of lads and they know that".

Spirited Synthonia battled bravely to contain the well drilled aerial threat of a direct and pacey Totton side in a first half then asserted themselves in a magnificent second half showing that deservedly earned them a famous victory.

Totton's Testwood Park had a very bumpy pitch that was far from ideal for Synner's passing game.

But it suited the home side down to the ground. With the wind behind them, Totton's army of six footers launched the ball into the box and their fast forwards raced in to profit from any mistakes as the ball bobbled around erratically.

It was a torrid opening spell for Synners as they struggled to come to terms with the conditions and the tempo and Totton twice went close through Bottomley and then Osman blazed wide.

But Synners grabbed the lead after 15 minutes as good work by Colin Iley won a free-kick out by the right hand corner flag and when David Wells whipped it toward the near post defender Shaun Hope burst forward unmarked to power home a downward header.

The aerial assault resumed and Totton levelled on 25 minutes as a ball down the right sent Mark Osman storming forward to the edge of the box to slot under the advancing keeper John Jackson. …

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