Cullompton Rangers 0 AFC Portchester 1
As fairytale returns go, Jason Parish couldn’t have written a better script for this FA Vase tie than the one that was played out at Cullompton.
With the Royals missing the likes of Dan Wooden and Mike Turvey, striker resources were stretched going into this First Round tie in Devon.
Parish, who had just returned to Portchester from Wessex Premier Division rivals Baffins Milton Rovers, was carrying an injury himself going into this game.
But not only did he manage to get through the 90 minutes in heavy conditions, he popped up with the winning goal in the fourth minute of injury time to set up a Second Round trip to Warminster Town.
Some in the visitors’ camp were surprised this game went ahead such were the monsoon-like conditions in Hampshire when they departed but the weather was surprisingly drier the further west the travelling Royals support went on their 140-mile journey.
This game could have gone either way and the home side were left cursing their missed chances when Parish knocked home his injury time winner.
Cullompton had the first chance of the game on seven minutes when a good passing move ended with Ollie Aplin crossing the ball from the right to Ethan Phillips on the edge of the six yard box but he put his header over.
At the other end, Olly Searle spread the play right to Jack Barker and his cross found Parish at the far post but his header looped up over the goal.
Adam Cripps then used his long throw in to good effect when he picked out Steve Ramsey but the header went straight up in the air and was easily claimed by keeper Rob Holmes.
The home side went close again on 25 minutes when Ash Donohue picked up the ball on the left and crossed it into Aplin, who found himself in space but he pulled his shot wide of the target.
Owen Fee got in behind the home defence a minute later and his cross along the edge of the box saw Rob Evans set the ball into the path of Nathan Paxton but he couldn’t get the power behind his shot to trouble Holmes.
The home side continued to create chances with their attacks and Donohue burst into the box before hitting a low shot which keeper Charlie Searle got down to save comfortably to his left.
Cullompton almost broke the deadlock five minutes before half time when Donohue played the ball up the right wing and Phillips latched on to it when Cripps slipped.
This unexpected mistake saw Charlie Searle caught in no man’s land and he could only watch as Phillips chipped the ball past him and the shot bounced back off the far post before being cleared to safety.
The home side did have the ball in the net during first half stoppage time but Donohue was ruled to be offside in the build up.
Portchester had a great chance to score in the opening minutes of the second half when the ball dropped to a visiting player six yards out but they fell over as they tried to shoot home.
Paxton then fired over when a corner dropped to him at the far post and at the other end, Phillips tried his luck from 25 yards out but Charlie Searle got down easily to gather the ball.
On the hour mark Parish pulled the ball back to Paxton on the edge of the box but he blazed his effort over and Parish then set Paxton up again but James Ansell blocked his shot.
Fee’s cross from the left was met by Paxton, who sent his glancing header flying just wide, before he turned provider by setting up Parish on the edge of the box but his shot was beaten away by Holmes.
On 82 minutes Phillips picked up a pass into the box for Cullompton but shot straight at Charlie Searle.
The home side should have snatched victory three minutes later. A ball straight down the middle of the pitch was picked up by Brandon Parsons, who managed to get clear of the visiting defence but when he got inside the penalty area he dragged his shot wide of the target with only Charlie Searle to beat.
With the game looking like it was about to head into extra time, Fee managed to twist his way past three defenders before sending the ball across the box to Parish but he couldn’t quite reach the pass with his slide towards goal.
However, the striker netted the winner in the fourth minute of injury time. The ball was crossed into the penalty area from the right and Parish was in the right place around the penalty spot to send his header towards goal and it dropped inside the far post.
GOAL: Jason Parish (90+3 mins)
LINE-UP: Charlie Searle, Jack Barker, Liam Bush, Adam Cripps, Olly Searle (replaced by Callum Chugg on 51 mins), Ellis Martin, Rob Evans, Steve Ramsey, Jason Parish, Nathan Paxton, Owen Fee.
UNUSED SUBS: Jordan Brooks, George Murage.