Cleeve cruise through to quarter-finals of cup
» BISHOP’S Cleeve progressed to the quarter-finals of the Bluefin Sports Hellenic Challenge Cup with a comfortable 5-0 win over Clanfield 85 at Kayte Lane, writes Billy Munday
Elliot Kennedy opened the scoring when his cross found its way inside the far post to give Cleeve the lead at half-time.
A brace from Brad Martin and a powerful strike from Adam Mace put the hosts 4-0 ahead before the hour mark.
Joe Bates rounded off the scoring in fortunate fashion when he netted directly from a corner in the closing stages.
Despite the lengthy score line, Steve Cleal’s side were tested and frustrated by their opponents for much of the first half. Clanfield’s Callum Miller had a shot blocked on the line before Jordi Mulvaney struck the bar during an unconvincing period at the back for Cleeve.
After a spell of pressure from the visitors, an excellent point-blank save from James Domm at a Cleeve corner was the only thing keeping the scores level.
Kennedy also tested Domm with a header but, like several of the efforts he’d faced already in the game, Domm dealt with it easily.
However, he and his defence were caught unawares when Kennedy, supplying this time, bent an inswinging cross towards Martin.
The striker couldn’t get a toe on it, in fact, no one got anything on it and it ended up in the back of Domm’s net.
The hosts came close to doubling their lead twice before the break. Kevin Slack flashed a shot across goal from a tight angle before Kennedy forced Domm into another impressive save.
Cleeve boss Cleal revealed what he said to his players at half time afterwards: “We had a lot of possession in the first half but it was all lethargic and quite slow. So I said the important thing is, we need to up tempo and do everything a bit quicker to drag out Clanfield a bit more.”
That higher tempo produced three more goals in the space of 15 minutes to put Cleeve out of sight in this cup tie.
First, Martin headed in Adam Mace’s cross before Mace himself nestled one in the far corner with a drilled strike from the edge of the penalty area.
“Mace’s goal was top-draw quality - he’s got that in his locker. He’s a pleasure to work with. He’s got good technique, good ability and he’s a very good footballer,” Cleal lauded his left-back after the game.
Martin doubled his goal tally, converting from Kennedy’s low cross on the hour mark before Ash Davies, the eventual man of the match, was unable to finish having strode through the Clanfield defence.
Cleal was also impressed with Davies’ display: “Ash has been brilliant every time he’s played for us. He was superb, he covered every blade of grass.
“He’s got a bit of an aggressive streak about him as well.”
The visitors’ struggles in defence were underlined once more when Joe Bates’s corner found its way through two or three red shirts and past the goalkeeper at the near post.
The post denied Mace his second in the closing minutes but Cleeve progressed without a problem into the quarter-finals.
» Cheltenham Saracens are also in the last eight, but without kicking a ball as AFC Aldermaston were unable to raise a side on Saturday.
» BISHOP’S Cleeve were 7-2 winners over Oldland Abbotonians to reach the last eight of the GFA Trophy on Tuesday night.
Cleeve led after three minutes through Brad Martin but Mail equalised for Western League side Oldland with seven minutes on the clock.
But Martin restored Cleeve’s lead after 20 minutes as his shot looped off a defender into the net.
Martin was then fouled in the box and Elliott Kennedy stepped up to make it 3-1 from the penalty spot.
Kennedy’s second made it 4-1 before half-time and Martin completed his hat-trick on the hour to make it five.
A second penalty was converted by Joe Bates with 10 minutes to go and the striker added a second with seven minutes to go before Oldland’s Tanner completed the scoring in the final minute of the game.