Stourbridge 3 Dunkirk 1
By Richard Clark
The Glassboys made it through to the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup thanks to goals from Chris Lait, Karl Hawley and Stuart Pierpoint.
There were two changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday night’s win at Ramsbottom United. Leon Broadhurst returned in place of Louis Harris, whilst Chris Lait came in for the unavailable Justin Richards. There was also a place on the bench for defender Alex Penny, signed from Bedworth United in time for the game.
With the visitors looking to bridge a two-level gap in the pyramid, they gave the Glassboys defence an early scare as a right wing cross bobbled around Lewis Solly’s six-yard box before being hurriedly cleared, but that aside it was a bright start for the home side and they were ahead with just seven minutes played.
Drew Canavan went on a run down the left before laying the ball off to Lait who burst into the penalty area and tucked the ball just inside Jake Want’s near post to open the scoring.
Within a minute, Matt Dodd opened up the Dunkirk defence again, only to shoot straight at Want. However, any thoughts of an untroubled afternoon were quickly dispelled as the Boatmen settled and began to threaten.
First Tristram Whitman scuffed his 14th minute effort in front of goal after good work down the right by Macauley Diuk, and then Will Coutts advanced on goal before seeing his shot deflected wide.
Broadhurst curled a free-kick just wide on 17 minutes, and then Want was forced to tip away Pierpoint’s effort on 23 minutes as Stourbridge looked to assert their authority on the game.
However, Diuk was continuing to give Chris Knight problems down the Glassboys’ left and it was he who fashioned an equalising goal just before the half hour, sending in a cross that the unfortunate Pierpoint could only nod past Solly to maintain, in somewhat unwanted style, his record of scoring in every round of this season’s competition so far.
Had Dunkirk been able to maintain parity for any length of time then Stourbridge might have found life a lot more difficult, but as it was the scores remain levelled for just five minutes before the unmarked Karl Hawley, having seen Want block a shot just 60 seconds earlier, made no mistake from Dodd’s right wing cross.
It was a lead that Stourbridge were to take into the interval, but not before Coutts had fizzed a first time shot just over Solly’s crossbar from a weak clearance by Dan Scarr.
Dunkirk opened the second period on the front foot, but it was Hawley who had the first half-chance, pulling the ball across goal on 49 minutes with nobody on hand to convert, before Coutts wasted a good chance for the visitors after 52 minutes as he skied his shot when well-placed.
Canavan had a chance to put daylight between the teams on 56 minutes but could only scuff the ball wide of the far post, and then at the other end Pierpoint was on hand to block a shot from Lewis Wilcox.
With the Glassboys starting to find a little more of their rhythm, it was Lait who was next to ask questions of the visitors’ defence heading straight at Want, and then substitute Junior Smikle tested Want again with a bullet header that the Boatmen’s stopper was equal to.
Within a minute, though, the Glassboys did have a third goal, and this time Pierpoint was on hand at the right end of the pitch to head home at the far post from a perfectly directed Broadhurst corner.
Thereafter, the Dunkirk challenge subsided somewhat and Stourbridge looked most likely to add to the scoreline. Broadhurst saw his 72nd minute shot blocked for a corner after fine approach play by Smikle and Hawley, and then the visitors’ task was made even harder 13 minutes from time as Wilcox received his marching orders for pulling down Dodd as the Glassboys winger looked to bear down on goal.
A Broadhurst free kick was clutched at the second attempt by Want, and then two chances fell to Ben Billingham in the closing stages. First his header was straight at Want from Harris’s free kick, and then he fired over from the edge of the box as stoppage time loomed.
Ultimately, the Glassboys had enough in reserve to record a victory but it was one that for much of the game was far from guaranteed.