Eccleshall's hopes for a run in the FA Vase this season came to an end against Premier Division local rivals Hanley Town at Pershall Park. Eagles included new signings Luke Smith and George Burslem in their squad.
The game was evenly matched in the first fifteen minutes with both sides having a good share of the play. For Eccleshall, the pace of Matt Kimmins was causing problems whilst Jonathan Kapend was showing some decent touches down the left flank for Hanley. As the half went on , Eccleshall were growing in confidence against their higher ranked opponents and, on 29 minutes, Jordan Benton curled a good effort wide of the post. Louis Downs had another shot blocked before Hanley took the lead on 42 minutes when a ball to the back post from Tim Sanders was hooked home by Joshua Bristow.
HT: Eccleshall 0 Hanley Town 1
A good run and cross down the left by Kapend found Chris Budrys who fired wide. Then Downs ran through and tried to lob Town 'keeper Aaron Woolrich but he managed to clear. Eagles were pushing forward in search of an equaliser and on 58 minutes, referee Scerri spotted an infringement in the area and awarded a penalty. Benton slotted home to level the scores. Minutes later, Eccleshall could have taken the lead when a Shay Finney corner was headed wide by Tom Wakefield when it seemed easier to score. Woolrich then held a Callum Feeney cross before Kapend fired over the bar at the other end. With eleven minutes to go, Eagles took the lead when Downs got in behind the Town defence, pushed the ball past the advancing Woolrich and eased the ball into the net. However, the lead was short lived as Hanley equalised with six minutes to go. Substitute Josh Thorpe, who had caused problems since joining the action, was allowed to bring the ball down and his scuffed shot beat Eagles 'keeper Louis McCarthy. It was a cruel blow but Hanley could have won it at the death when Thorpe ran onto a through ball before lobbing the ball over McCarthy but his effort bounced wide of the post.
FT: Eccleshall 2 Hanley Town 2
In the first period of extra time, Kimmins was through but his shot was held by the diving Woolrich. Minutes later, Hanley took the lead when Martin Stanyer's shot took a huge deflection to take the ball past the helpless McCarthy. Then, a Hanley corner was headed over as both Jake Alcock and Stanyer challenged.
Into the second period, Eagles immediately moved forward with Miles Johnson finding Liam Tomlin but the ball was cleared. Thomas Ashton then brought a good diving save from McCarthy. Eccleshall had a good chance to equalise when Jake Langdridge fired just wide with Woolrich beaten but were then dealt a blow when Tomlin was sent off by referee Scerri. A late strong shout for an Eagles penalty was turned away by the referee. The ten men continued to battle for the goal which would earn a deserved replay but it was not to be.
Eagles had given everything for the cause and, on the balance of play, deserved something from the game. The players deserve great credit for a full battling performance but it is Hanley who go through to the next round and collect the £550 prize money.
Eagles: McCarthy, Collins, Dunn (Smith), Benton, Langdridge, Griffiths, Kimmins (Tomlin), Feeney, Wakefield (Burslem), Finney (Johnson), Downs.
Unused subs: Thomas, Dunne, Pearson.