Coventry City 1-2 Worcester City
FA Cup First Round
Jonny Bonell reports from the Ricoh Arena
THE MAGIC of the FA Cup will be well and truly alive in Worcester tonight (Sunday) after a Sean Geddes brace upset the odds and secured a memorable 2-1 victory over Coventry City.
Worcester City headed to the Ricoh Arena as huge underdogs but they bettered Steven Pressley’s ten men from start to finish and richly deserved the success.
Coventry keeper Lee Burge was dismissed in the first half and Geddes put away the resulting spot-kick before Nathan Vaughan denied Reda Johnson from the spot in an action-packed first 45.
Another Geddes strike sent the Blue and Whites into dream land before Johnson pulled one back with ten minutes to go but Worcester dug deep as Carl Heeley celebrated the birth of his third child with an unthinkable victory.
Manager Heeley said: “We came here, and I am not being disrespectful to Coventry, but we felt we could come and cause them problems today and we did that.
“We started the game well, it was important that we didn’t get overawed by the occasion, especially in the first 15 minutes, but their keeper’s had a little moment of madness there which has helped us.
“We have been on the other side of it when you play a team from lower down, but the fact we are from the Conference North and Coventry are League One doesn’t matter today because it is the FA Cup.
“I have said before I guarantee there will be shocks, I was just dreaming we would have one of those shocks and as it has mapped out it’s happened for us.”
It was nearly the perfect start for the visitors as Daniel Nit latched onto a Mike Symons flick within 30 seconds and dipped his half-volley just past Burge’s post.
The men from the Conference North were by no means disgracing themselves against their League One opponents and Geddes hit a sweet volley from 25-yards which flew over before Danny Jackman’s in-swinging corner was deflected onto the roof of the net.
Roared on by more than 3,000 travelling fans, Heeley’s men bossed the opening 20 minutes and Tyler Weir went close again but his effort was well held by Burge.
Ryan Haines ballooned high and wide for the hosts in what was proving to be a forgettable opening for the West Midlands outfit.
Nti and Geddes both went close again mid-way through the half, but the game turned on its head five minutes before the break.
Sky Blues keeper Burge needlessly kicked out at Nit and was awarded a straight red card by referee Ross Joyce, but worse was to follow as the man in the middle awarded the visitors a penalty in the process.
Geddes shouldered the responsibility and he confidently slammed the ball straight down the middle to spark wild scenes in the visiting end.
More drama reared its head in added time, however, as Mr Joyce deemed Graham Hutchison to have tugged back Maddison in the box and a second penalty was awarded.
Captain Johnson took hold of the ball but Vaughan got down quickest to palm away the strike and keep the Blue and White’s noses in front.
Substitute keeper Ryan Allsop held the deficit at just one within two minutes of the restart when he tipped away Jordan Murphy’s header from another Jackman corner.
Heeley’s men were pinching themselves after 55 minutes and it was that man Geddes who received the ball on the right hand side of the box and drilled an unstoppable strike just inside the post to double their lead.
Steven Pressley’s side should have halved the deficit just minutes later but with both Vaughan and Wayne Thomas on the deck, Adam Barton blazed well over from the edge of the box.
Worcester’s play had merited their two-goal lead and that was nearly extended with 25 minutes to go when substitute Nick Wright slammed a deflected effort just the wrong side of the post.
The 1987 winners did exert some pressure on a resolute Worcester defence, but Johnson’s header wide and Maddison’s well-saved effort was the best they could muster.
Captain Johnson did half the arrears with nine minutes to go when he stooped to head home Maddison’s free-kick at the back post. That goal came after Ellis Deeney had wasted a glorious opportunity by dragging his effort past the post.
A quite incredible ending to the game saw both teams spurn chances to hit the back of the net but it was Worcester’s day as the saw out a mammoth seven minutes of added time to achieve an historic victory and book their place in the second round.
To see how the game unfolded in our live blog, click here.