Stone Old Alleynians 0-1 Sporting Khalsa

Alleynians manager Matt Smith was left philosophical after his side bowed out of this season’s Staffordshire Vase at the semi-final stage, thanks to a first-half strike, in what turned out to be a cagey encounter at Wellbeing Park.

“It was a close game, and we have probably just come up a bit short, but I don’t think that there was much of a difference between the sides. I think it is a good measure of where we are at when you look at how well (Sporting) Khalsa are doing.” said Smith

“It is disappointing to be knocked out so late in the competition, but I think we’ve got to take the positives from getting this far, it’s the furthest that the club has been in the Vase.”

“We’ve still got an awful lot to play for, we are still in a very good position in the league, and still in two cups, so we have got to move on and try and progress in those.” He added.

In a game of few chances, Sporting Khalsa striker Craig Bannister settled the tie midway through the first half when he latched onto a stray pass from the Alleynians midfield to race through and fire past Lewis Paglia.

Luke Askey easily deals with a Sporting Khalsa cross
Luke Askey easily deals with a Sporting Khalsa cross

The opening quarter lacked incident, the visitors, top of the West Midlands Premier League, controlled possession without creating any chances, whilst the hosts were happy to drop off and play on the break, as had served them so well in the previous round against Hanley Town.

The Alleynians back four dealt comfortably with a handful of crosses that came their way, but it was during a rare break forward that the hosts became unstuck, a sloppy pass on the halfway line allowing Bannister to open the scoring.

But the goal seemed to spur the hosts on, a superb pass from Adam Tomkinson found Carl Dibden in the box, but the striker’s shot was well saved, and skipper Paul Griffiths was just beaten to the rebound by a recovering defender.

Matt Thomas then came close; his solo run and shot going narrowly wide.

Matt Thomas tries to get the Old Boys back on level terms
Matt Thomas tries to get the Old Boys back on level terms

There were few chances after the break, with Dibden going closest for the hosts but stretching to reach a Tomkinson cross he was unable to get his header on target.

The visitors should have put the game to bed when Bannister fired over after finding himself unmarked at the far post. And then winger Marvin Nisbett’s dipping shot struck the crossbar.

With the host’s chasing an equaliser, a counter-attack from Nisbett forced an excellent save from Paglia when the winger cut in from the left and fired goalwards, but the Stone keeper was equal to his effort, as the visitors secured their place in the final.

Stone OA: Paglia, Wilson, Askey, Whalley, Taylor, Sinclair (D Heard), Griffiths, C Heard (Lewis), Tomkinson, Dibden, Thomas