F.A.Cup – First Qualifying Round
Rugby Town 1 Chasetown 1
Chasetown 1 Rugby Town 3 (after extra time – 1-1 at 90 mins)
ACE marksman David Kolodynski earned Town a place in the next round by firing in yet another Valley hat-trick in the tie’s replay at the Scholars Ground on Tuesday evening.
After more than three and half hours of football, it was the clinical contribution of Rugby’s record scorer that ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides in what was overall a tense and tight affair.
Last Saturday’s original game had ended as a 1-1 draw, with the replay then finishing in the same way after the initial ninety minutes. However Kolodynski went on to strike twice in extra-time to secure a Second Qualifying Round berth.
Town probably just about deserved to come out on top of the tie, but having started well at the weekend, they certainly went on to make unnecessarily hard work of the eventual success.
Saturday’s starting line-up saw three changes from the previous game, with Alex Austin, Jamie Towers and Richard Blythe all returning to the side.
Towers should have given them the lead on 16 minutes, but he could only lift Kolodynski’s pull back over the bar from close range, with Will Grocott, Mason Rowley and Seb Lake-Gaskin also having chances to open the scoring.
Rowley was on-guard at the other end to deny the visitors their best opportunity of the opening exchanges, when he headed a dipping Lee Butler free-kick away from his own line, but it was another Butler set-piece that generated the game’s first goal when Nathan Waite flicked on his corner for Jermaine Johnson to help the ball in from six yards.
Valley were soon on level terms though, when Towers atoned for his earlier miss by powering home Sam Youngs’s cross to the far post just after the restart.
The remainder of the game lacked any real quality and clear cut goalscoring opportunities, with Town too often resorting to the long ball option and rarely testing Scholars’ keeper John Bateman as a result.
Grocott and substitute Justin Marsden both sent efforts high of the target, with the best chance of the second period coming with just three minutes remaining when Chasetown’s Jack Lees somehow helped Dexter Ravenhill’s cross over the bar from a great position.
Valley started Tuesday’s replay with a bang though, with Kolodynski opening the scoring in the very first minute – running onto a long Rugby ball before showing good strength to hold off his marker and fire low into the corner past Bateman.
The remainder of the first half was relatively even, with returning Town keeper Niall Cooper not extended to any great fashion in his first outing of the season.
A curling effort from Youngs was easily gathered by Bateman, before the hosts were handed the perfect opportunity of an equaliser when Rowley was penalised for an illegal challenge in the box.
However Simon Brown’s spot-kick cannoned back down off the underside of the bar and away to safety, although Rugby’s joy was short-lived when Waite made no mistake by finishing off Brown’s delivery into the danger area on the stroke of half-time.
It was an understandably cagey second period, with both defences holding firm and Town’s Alex Gudger and Rowley in particular looking in resolute form.
For Valley, Marsden put one wide midway through the half, and at the other end, Cooper twice pulled off neat saves to first deny Waite and later Nick Wellecomme with a diving stop.
Kolodynski’s powerful strike from distance had Bateman scrambling, but the ball skidded just wide of the post, and just before the full-time whistle, Gudger recovered well to block out Wellecomme.
And so to extra-time, with Kolodynski doing the damage in its first period with two goals in five minutes.
He gave Town the lead by weaving past three Chasetown defenders before unleashing an unstoppable left footer into the corner of the net, and then made the tie safe with a curling finish after Craig Kelly had picked him out with a searching pass.
Town saw the game out well from there, and in fact Kolodynski had further opportunities to add to the total, as did Kyle Bishop and Grocott.