Newcastle Town progress to FA Cup Preliminary round with late winner against ten-men AFC Wulfrunians


Newcastle Town made the most of their one-man advantage with Jacob Lovatt’s late header securing his side’s spot in the FA Cup Preliminary round.

Like many cup encounters, little could separate the two teams in the opening exchanges. Wulfrunians winger Jake Webb was at the centre of the first chance of the match, beating his man on the far side before firing a low ball into the area for his attacking partner Jamie Meddows, whose effort was deflected over.

The Wulfs continued to press for the opener against their higher-ranked opponents, this time Eshan Greer finding space on the counter down the right-hand side, cutting the ball back to Jay Holdcroft who fired narrowly wide of the near post. Positive signs from the hosts aiming to secure a spot in the preliminary rounds for a second year in a row.

Newcastle Town were equal to it, however, as the Northern Premier League side opened the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark. A needless free-kick in Wulfrunians territory, Town no.4 Ethan Vale made no mistake from 25-yards out, sending the keeper the wrong way as he planted the ball into the bottom-left corner. 

Such a goal saw a shift in momentum in the favour of the visitors as they looked to gain control of proceedings and take their lead into the break. Wulfs no.7 Webb looked to conjure up a response, however, beating his man once again before sending an inviting ball to the front post but Tom Poole failed to direct his header on target.

For Town, a moment of quality from Vale separated the two sides in what had been mostly a scrappy affair as we entered half-time. 

Wulfrunians came flying out the blocks for the second 45 with a series of inviting deliveries testing the Town defence early doors. A deep cross to the back post by Jamie Meddows somehow evaded all those in red and white with the sliding Brad Sharman unable to prevent the ball from sailing out for a goal kick.

Town manager and former Wolverhampton Wanderers player Robin van der Laan’s side looked to respond on the counter, causing pandemonium in the Wulfs’ box on the hour-mark which almost resulted in the visitors’ second on a sunny afternoon at CKW Stadium. 

Jack van der Laan’s curling effort was only to be denied by the post before dropping to substitute Joseph Hurst with his follow-up blocked on the line while keeper Jake James took control of matters at the third time of asking and diverted the danger away. 

Such entertainment soon followed at the other end – a couple of drop-balls on the edge of the Newcastle box was pounced on by the hosts, flicking the ball to the front post where Wulfs’ no. 11 Sharman tapped home to level the scores with 25 minutes left on the clock.

With the Midland Premier League team edging closer to taking the lead for the first time, another quick counter by Town had devastating consequences for the Wulfs. A late challenge by Wulfrunians captain Hayden Reeves brought the Newcastle attack to an abrupt halt with the referee wasting little time to give the defender his marching orders and leaving Wulfrunians a man down for the final 15. 

Town almost added to their woes from the subsequent free kick. A great ball by Ethan Vale dropped into the path of Luke Dennis who snatched at the opportunity and fired over from six yards out. 

While the Wulfs had looked composed at the back for the duration of the match, another moment of quality from Newcastle separated the sides once again leaving Wulfrunians with little time to reply. Joseph Hurst worked well to find space on the far side before curling a brilliant cross to the front post to the unmarked Jacob Lovatt, with the no.9 powering his header home in the 85th minute. A fatal blow to the hosts in what had been an encouraging performance from both teams in this early-season affair.

Newcastle Town will find out their preliminary round opponents in due course with said fixtures set to be played on the weekend of August 20. 

AFC Wulfrunians: James, Uppal, Pearson, Rowley, Reeves (c), Greer, Webb, Poole, Meddows, Holdcroft, Sharman. (Subs: Hughes, Hayward, Bahia, Downing, Gritton, Turton).

Newcastle Town: Slinn, Russo, Ritchie, Vale, Askey (c), Dennis, Lloyd, T. van der Laan, J. Lovatt, J. van der Laan, Bailey-Hunter. (Subs: Smith, Parker, Hurst, Conlon, C. Lovatt, Morley).

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