Worcester City 0-0 AFC Telford
FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Rob George reports from the Victoria Ground
WORCESTER City will still be scratching their heads why they aren’t already guaranteed a place in the Third Qualifying Round draw after an impressive showing against their National League North rivals.
City went into the clash having scored 10 in the last three games alone, while Telford arrived at the Victoria Ground having hit the back of the net just eight times all season.
Carl Heeley made two changes from Tuesday’s 2-0 triumph at Brackley with Sam Oji and Lee Hughes coming in for the suspended Graham Hutchinson and Walsall loanee Jordan Murphy.
The Blue and Whites have made it past the Second Qualifying Round in each of the last four seasons but their hopes of progression could have been dented after just two minutes when uncertainty in the defence almost presented Telford with a golden opportunity to open the scoring.
City soon settled against their low on confidence visitors and Chekaine Steele shot just wide after a surging run forward.
The best chance of the first half came on 10 minutes for Lee Hughes after more impressive approach work from City. Pressure on the visitors goal saw Colby Bishop cross the ball back into the area only for the prolific Hughes to head wide.
City enjoyed more of the ball in a game full of cup fever although AFC Telford ensured the new-found confidence in the home defence was probed every so often.
Steele linked up again with Hughes on the half hour and the frontman tested James Montgomery with a good shot which was turned away for a corner.
Despite their best efforts City went into the break level but could have taken the lead three minutes after the break when Bishop shot over when well placed.
The final quarter of the contest saw the hosts turn up the pressure and on 74 minutes more impressive approach work saw the ball find Hughes whose shot was again well saved by Montgomery.
The visitors grew in confidence and skipper Gianluca Havern had the best chance when his powerful shot from outside the area was blocked for a corner with 11 minutes to play.
Bishop had another chance before Murphy was brought on for Hughes and the Walsall loanee nearly won the game with four minutes to play but his shot was again blocked by the impressive Montgomery.
Sub Callum Gittings had City hearts in mouths in injury time when his run and shot went narrowly wide while Bishop was denied the winning goal with almost the last kick of the game when he was played in on the left but his low powerful shot was saved by Montgomery.
Both sides will do it all again on Tuesday (September 20) at the New Bucks Head but truth be told City will play much worse than this and win games this season.
It’s a measure of the confidence around the team at the moment that manager Carl Heeley was hugely philosophical after the game and urged his team to go again on Tuesday.
Another 90 minutes like this and City will be through and just two steps from the First Round proper.