By Andy Everett
Substitute Alex Owuadey netted a brace as May & Baker came from behind twice to progress into the Second Round Proper of the Buildbase FA Vase.
The hosts were up against another side a step above them in the pyramid as North Greenfordd United reside from the Spartan South Midlands Premier, and they were having a fairly solid season sitting sixth in their division, but Bakers are also having a good season to date and had netted twelve goals in their previous two Vase games.
The visitors though were probably slight favourites for the tie although so Bakers were looking to spring a surprise here, and the opening fifteen minutes certainly proved that this could be possible as Bakers created the better openings, seeing Dan Gilchrist strike the post and then volley over too.
A North Greenford United defender almost put into his own net after a decent ball into the away side's box, although the visiting side did cause home keeper Michael Gooch some alarm on a couple of occasions, seeing a long floated free-kick sail just over, and then getting down well to save another set play from the visitors.
The visitors then saw Courtney Austin get the ball in acres of space inside the Bakers box however his effort was weak and straight at Gooch. The opening goal came in the 34th minute with a counter attack when Aaron McLeish got through the defence and fired a brilliant effort in off the post to give the favourites the lead.
There had been chances for both teams leading up to that goal, with the hosts seeing Craig Hall volley a spectacular effort wide before Conor Okus rifled over a powerful effort from range. After the goal McLeish had gone close again too for NGU, whistling an effort just over the bar.
The hosts though should really have been level before the break though as Reece Tranter somehow thumped a close-range effort against the underside of the bar, but it meant that the visitors held a slender lead at the break with everything still to play for still.
HT: May & Baker 0 North Greenford United 1
Bakers made a good start to the second period and after Gilchrist had seen an effort tipped wide by Lewis Todd in the first minute, from the resulting corner, Tom Harvey curled a dangerous ball and despite a desperate attempt to clear from the visitors, and although Okus nodded home the loose ball, the flag was already up for a goal and the hosts were level.
Both teams then had chances to take the lead, firstly Craig Hall sent an effort straight at visiting keeper Todd, whilst down the other end Ben Long mis-kicked an effort when in a decent position, but then in the 61st minute came a moment of madness.
A forward pass saw the ball bounce up high and home keeper Gooch and visiting forward McLeish, who had been flagged for offside, went up to challenge with Gooch winning the ball but then saw McLeish come charging at him, grab him and then pushing and shoving ensued, the result being a straight red card for the visiting player and a booking for the hosts keeper. It meant North Greenfield United would have to play the remainder of the tie with ten men.
Baker's then made what was to prove a crucial substitution bringing on Alex Owuadey for skipper Richard Oxby. Tranter then saw a decent chance go by, ending with a poke at goal being saved by Todd, but it was the visitors who got their noses back in front again when Lee Armitt beat the offside trap, although the hosts disagreed, ran onto the ball and lobbed a stranded Gooch leaving the visitors around twenty minutes to hold out.
Bakers then saw another couple of chances go by, firstly Gilchrist had an effort well blocked, before Harvey fired over a great chance from inside the box when he really should of at least worked the keeper, and it looked like it wasn’t going to be the home sides day.
But in the last minute of normal time the hosts levelled when after they had seen a goal ruled out for offside, substitute Owuadey managed to get his boot to a loose ball inside the box and send it into the far corner, meaning extra time would be needed.
A pivotel moment then came towards the end of the first period of the extra half hour when moments after the visitors had seen a goal ruled out for offside, Bakers went down the other end and saw Owuadey turn provider, sending in a perfect cross for Craig Hall to power a header home in the 98th minute and give Bakers the lead for the first time in the tie.
With the tiring ten men pushing forward for a leveller, Bakers broke in the 112th minute and saw that man Owuadey clean through on goal, and after terrific skill to control a bobbling ball, he composed himself to fire an effort into the roof of the net and finally seal this tie once and for all and end the challenge from the ten-man visitors.
FT (aet) May & Baker 4 North Greenford United 2