PICTURES JOHN HOPKINS
WARRINGTON Town dumped National League side Ebbsfleet United out of the FA Trophy with a 2-0 win at Cantilever Park.
Goals from Tony Gray and Jamie McDonald fired the Yellows past an opponent who sit 32 places above them in the football pyramid and who needed an injury-time equaliser to force this replay.
It means a tie at Wealdstone in the last 16 of the competition as the Yellows dream of Wembley.
A response was expected from Ebbsfleet who appeared to underestimate Warrington on Saturday, though the Yellows needed no extra motivation following the post-match comments of Ebbsfleet boss Darryl McMahon, who claimed Paul Carden wouldn’t prefer any of his own players over those from Ebbsfleet.
The visitors started brightly and did put a few early testers the way of young goalkeeper Ben Ascroft, who continued in goal in place of the injured Tony McMillan.
The main threat from Warrington came from Devarn Green down the right, though he was forced to make an early exit from the action, pulling up with an apparent hamstring strain just after the half hour mark.
As time went on, the game settled and there wasn’t much to report as both teams went in goalless.
The game was there for the taking and it was Warrington who took it.
Six minutes after the restart, McDonald set up Gray who fired home from 20 yards and give the Yellows something to hold on to.
They should have been home and dry on 54 minutes, when Will Hayhurst’s inswinging corner was flicked on and fell nicely for Liam Goulding at the back post, the centre half somehow getting under the ball and hitting it over when it was perhaps easier to score.
Ebbsfleet were still a threat on a sporadic basis and Ascroft did well to beat away an awkward bouncing shot from Aaron McLean.
But the flurry of pressure that was expected from the National League side never materialised.
Instead, it was Warrington that grabbed the second goal to virtually make the game safe. Gray drove forward through midfield and fed Hayhurst on the left, the former Notts County man getting a solid shot away despite the bobbling ball and it proved too hot to handle for Nathan Ashmore, who could only spill it in the path of McDonald who didn’t need a second invitation to finish.
The 334-strong crowd cheered Warrington to what was ultimately a comfortable victory in their ninth game in the competition this season – and their fourth successive replay.
They will now take on National League South side Wealdstone away on Saturday February 3 for a place in the quarter-finals.
Warrington Town: Ascroft, Carden, McKeown, Williams, McCarten, Goulding, Green (Kinsella), Vassallo, McDonald, Gray (Bakkor), Hayhurst (Beeley). Unused subs: Barnes, Milne.
Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore, Connors (Bush), Winfield, Drury, Kedwell, McLean, Weston (Coulson), Payne, Shields, Nagri, Wilson (Powell). Unused subs: Rance, Jordan.