FA Cup preliminary round replay (after extra-time)

Witham Town made hard work of progress into the first qualifying round of the FA Cup, but they eventually managed to get past FC Clacton at the second time of asking in this preliminary round tie.

Clacton had been by far the better side when the two met for the first time at the Austin Arena, but Witham ground out a 1-1 draw on that occasion to take it into a replay.

And Witham, who play their league football a level higher than Clacton, found it far from easy when they met again at the Simarco Stadium.

Despite having a man advantage from the 17th minute onwards, Witham twice fell behind and required a last-minute equalising goal to take it into extra-time.

However, a goal by George Bugg finally broke Clacton’s brave resolve for a 3-2 victory that set up a trip to Stamford for Witham in the first qualifying round on Saturday.

Having dominated most parts of the earlier meeting between the two, Clacton’s only fault was not converting more of the chances that they created.

However, they quickly showed they were in no mood to repeat that and they took the lead in the eighth minute.

The opening exchanges had seen both sides looking to get on the front foot, but a break down the right from the Seasiders was finished with an excellent cross played into the middle of the home area by Harry McDonald.

The ball fell perfectly to where striker Jake Clowsley was waiting to head it in from close range to give Clacton an early lead.

The goal placed Clacton on the front foot, but they were set back on 17 minutes as they were reduced to ten men.

A ball over the top of the Seasiders’ defence had seen Bugg race clear, but he was brought down by Ollie Lamb and, after consulting with his assistant, referee Stuart Cheek decreed the Clacton defender had prevented a scoring opportunity and brandished a red card.

Witham skipper Pat Ahern then almost rubbed salt in the wound when he met the ensuing free-kick with a fierce header but Clacton keeper Joe Fowler saved well.

The effect of the sending off, though, was that Witham now had impetus and Ollie Bell fired over from a good position, while Jake Thompson headed over from a free-kick wide on the left.

However, the home fans had to wait until the 33rd minute for the equalising goal to come when Bell turned the ball into the back of the Clacton net.

However, far from retreating into their shells after the setbacks, Clacton realised the best way to get back into the game was by staying on the front foot and their endeavour was rewarded before half-time.

They took the lead again on 40 minutes when the ball was worked to Jordan Lartey, who drilled home a composed finish past an exposed George Marsh in the home goal.

It meant the hosts were trailing at the break, but there was further trouble before half-time as, having already seen Lewis Hewitt have to be substituted with an injury, they saw Ahern stretchered off the pitch.

Those blows left Witham with work to do after the restart, but despite having an extra man on the pitch, they were unable to make the numerical advantage count as Clacton continued to work hard.

They ensured scoring chances were scarce for the hosts and still posed a threat at the other end, going incredibly close to extending their lead on 65 minutes when a driven shot from McDonald beat Marsh and clattered back off the crossbar.

As the tie entered the final 20 minutes, Clacton began to find themselves pressed back more, but Witham were unable to maintain a consistent pressure and it looked as though the Seasiders would hold on to their lead.

However, one final throw of the dice came for Witham with a free-kick in the 90th minute and they cashed their chips in fine style.

Scott Kemp curled the ball into the Clacton area and the ball was headed in at the far post by Kye Jude to spark wild celebrations from the home fans and send the tie into extra-time.

The late goal was a huge blow for the depleted Seasiders, who now faced a further 30 minutes with only ten men, and a further one came in just the second minute of extra-time.

The extra period had barely got started when Bugg fired in to put Witham ahead and leave Clacton with a mountain to climb.

It was one that was too big and with no further goals, it was Witham who progressed into the next round.

Witham Town: George Marsh, Josh Luther, Ben Richardson, Pat Ahern (Kye Jude 45), Jake Thompson, Charlie Barlow (Jett Hogan 60), Shamido Pedulu, Chris Taylor, George Bugg, Ollie Bell (Jacob Cleaver 91), Lewis Hewitt (Scott Kemp 38). Subs not used: Ollie Emsden, Liam Whipps.

FC Clacton: Joe Fowler, Billy Wales, Zach Smith-Walter, Kyelan Marvell (Jordan Brazitis 93), Chris Ribchester, Oliver Lamb, Jordan Lartey (Jack Clampin 61), Charlie Thompson, Jake Clowsley (Callum Griffiths 90), Harry McDonald, Mehki McKenzie.

Referee: Stuart Cheek.