FA Staffs Vase
Ball Haye Green 3 Keele University 5 (aet)
"OUR passing really let us down," lamented manager Darren Baker after Ball Haye Green crashed out of the Staffs FA Vase to a side yet to register a league victory all season.
An Andy Teague penalty and Jake Bowyer strike inside the final 15 minutes pulled Green back from the brink. But Keele University bounced back with goals either side of the break in extra-time to book their spot in the next round.
Baker said: "We started poorly. Against sides like that who are struggling you want to get a foothold in the game and not give them anything to hold on to. We never really got going at all... very disappointing."
Keele threatened on a couple of occasions in the opening minutes and punished Green for some lacklustre defending when Junior Rodrigue produced a neat finish after 12 minutes.
Green rallied and found themselves back on level terms after 28 minutes when Will Bown pounced on a loose ball inside the Keele penalty area before lashing home. Just before the break Sam Pettitt deflected Denzel Akuffo's cross into his own net to gift Keele a slender lead at the interval.
Green fell further behind in 56th minute when Matt Kole produced a super finish from 15 yards that curled in beyond the reach of keeper Ash Knight. At that point there appeared to be little way back for a lacklustre Green but a devastating five-minute spell saw them back on level terms.
Teague's converted penalty on 75 minutes gave the home side renewed hope. And Jake Bowyer's rich vein of goal-scoring form continued in the 79th minute to force extra time. But moment before the end of the first period a well struck free-kick from Mike Hewitt put Keele back in front. And with Green throwing men forward Dion Calder settled matters in the 108th minute.
Green remain unbeaten in the top tier of the Stafs Senior League. And Baker is nor targeting a top four finish. He said: "We've started really well. I never expected that because with so many new players normally it takes a while for the team to gel. We've Wolstanton a week on Saturday that will be first against second and will give us a real idea of how far we've come."
On Saturday Green entertain Leek Town Reserves in the second round of the Leek Cup. Kick-off is 2pm.