After a comfortable 4-3 victory against Maine Road on bank holiday Monday, the Saints turned their focus to the FA Vase, as they travelled down to Hereford to take Wellington in the first round of qualifying. This was only the Saints second appearance in the compeition, so they were hoping to improve on last years efforts.
After a tactical change to the starting XI due to missing players, the Saints started off well, creating their first chance early on. Walters wins a strong header which finds its way over the Wellington defence, Bailey is quick off the mark to try and beat the ‘keeper to the ball, however he gets a touch but it deflects off the goalkeeper and the home side clear the danger.
However, it all went downhill quickly for the Saints. In the 13th minute, the Saints loose the ball deep in the opposition half, which allows them to break away and counter attack, a lofted ball over the heads of the Saints defence finds the Wellington striker who takes the chance and volleys the ball past George Austin to but the home side ahead.
Straight from kick off, the Saints always made the game level. Jordan Davies runs at the Wellington defence, however its nicked from his feet but he manages to win it back, and sets up Karl Bailey to shoot at goal, but his effort is dragged wide.
On the 30 minute mark, Austin is called into action. A ball from the Wellington defence splits open the Saints defence, allowing the forward to run into space, however Austin is quick off his line to collect the ball from the feet of the attacker to deny the home side extending their lead.
A few minutes later, the Saints create a chance of their own. Bailey picks up the ball and drives at the Wellington defence, after beating a handful of players to get himself into the box, he rolls the ball to Dave Easthope to shoot, however his shoot is directly at the goalkeeper, who catches the ball with ease.
Just before halftime, Austin is called into action again with a handful of quick reaction saves to deny Wellington from extending their lead.
The Saints get the second half underway, and hoped to improve on their first half performance to get themselves back into the game, with James Durman coming on to replace Tom Ash which allowed Josh Parker to move into midfield.
Things went from bad to worse for the Saints. Austin tries to play a quick ball to the foot of Jamie Hands, however he couldn’t control the ball which bounces off the top of his foot and goes directly back to Austin in goal, but only for the ball to find the top corner, out of reach of Austin. An own goal to extend Wellingtons lead and cause more damage to the Saints to their hopes to reach the next round of the FA Vase.
55 minutes into the game, and Parker tries a long ball over the Wellington defence as he tries to pick out Davies, which he does and Davies drives into the open space, but his effort to try and play the ball across goal is denied as it smashes against the defender, who clears the danger.
A few seconds later, Hands picks out defence with a superb long ball, again over the top of the home defence fore Davies to get into space, this time he tries to flick the ball over the goalkeeper as it comes down to home, but his effort is goes narrowly wide.
In the final 25 minutes, Wellington put the game to bed by adding a third. Parker looses the ball and Wellington are quick on the attack, which leads to the forward rolling the ball past Austin and to slot home into an empty net.
Into the final 10 minutes and the Saints win a corner, its cleared but Price manages to flick the ball back into the box with his head to find Parker, who knocks the ball into space, Easthope is on hand to volley the ball with a spectacular scissor kick and smash the ball into the bottom corner to give the Saints a brief sense of hope that they can get back into the game.
A few seconds later, Davies drives down the right wing, beating everyone in his path to find his way into the box, his effort at goal is driven straight at the goalkeeper, however the ball rebounds off the cross bar and into the feet of Bailey who doesn’t think twice to drill the ball into the back of the net.
However it was to late for the Saints as the game finished 3-2 to Wellington. St Martins now turn their attention to Tuesday night as they take on Eccleshall in the league, a win in that game takes them joint top with league leaders Wythenshawe on points. And then its a trip to Nelson the following weekend in the Macron Cup.