MK Irish’s debut season in the FA Vase will continue on into the first round proper, after coming from behind to beat Broadfields 2-1 in the second qualifying round on Saturday afternoon.
The home side took the lead late on in the first half, after a perfectly weighted long free kick dropped perfectly in behind the Irish defence for the striker to convert past Owusu.
The second half was a game of few chances, but thankfully it was Irish who made them count. Jack Clarkson grabbed the equalising goal with 15 minutes left on the clock, sliding in to meet Luke Gardener’s cross, setting up a tense finish as penalties loomed.
With time running out, it was Dom Lawless, off the bench, making only his second apperance of the season, who latched on to a through ball from Mason Spence to squeeze it in under the goalkeeper, sparking wild celebrations from Irish players and travelling fans.
Broadfields started the game well and were calm and confident in possession early on, moving the ball around quickly and building attacks from the back.
It was Irish who, against the run of play, had the first chance of the game as George Shrieves forced the Broadfields keeper into action just before the ten-minute mark. Shrieves collected the ball around the penalty spot after some neat play around the area, but could only direct his shot straight at the keeper who saved comfortably.
The home side continued to have the majority of possession as the first half went on, however it took half an hour for the first real Broadfields chance.
A quick counter-attack saw the MK Irish defence dragged out of position as the Broadfields right back found himself in space on the wing to drive towards the byline and drive in a low cross, which was somehow diverted on to the crossbar from a range where it looked harder to miss.
Less than five minutes later and the home side made the breakthrough. After all their possession and patient build up play, it was one long ball forward that undid the Irish defence, after some quick thinking from the Broadfields centre-back, who clipped a lovely ball in behind the defence for the advancing striker, who touched it down well and finished past the onrushing Owusu to make it 1-0.
As half-time approached the game became more and more fragmented, with the referee causing frequent stoppages in play and Broadfields players taking every opportunity they could to stay down after challenges and slow the game down.
The second half saw that continue as both sides struggled to get a foothold in what was now a scrappy game, and it was clear that MK Irish would have to make any chances that they could get count.
With 15 minutes left on the clock that chance came and Irish hit back and levelled through Jack Clarkson. Luke Gardener drove forward with the ball down the right-hand side, where some questionable defending left him free to fire a low cross into the box for Clarkson to slide in and touch it home from close range.
Irish pressed on well after equalising, with the game perhaps becoming even scrappier as both teams were desperately trying to create chances to find that late winning goal.
As the game entered its final five minutes, it started to get that ‘next goal wins’ feeling however, as had been the case all afternoon, the Irish defence were doing a fantastic job to limit Broadfields to no real clear-cut chances.
With just stoppage time left on the clock, the moment came for Irish through substitute Dom Lawless. Some quick passing saw Spence on the ball in the middle of the park, where he turned towards the Broadfields back line and slipped it through to Lawless, who kept his head brilliantly to slot it in underneath the keeper, making it 2-1 with just a couple of minutes left to play.
Broadfields did everything they could in the closing stages to try and force the penalty shootout, including winning multiple dubious free-kicks in dangerous crossing areas, all dealt with superbly by man of the match Christiaan Beaupierre and the rest of the rearguard action, as they couldn’t find a way to come back and level the match.
It was a fantastic comeback victory, against a side one division above Irish, after what had been a tough first half for the visitors and then became a scrappy game as Broadfields were trying to close out the win.
The result of course means that MK Irish will be in the hat for the first round of the FA Vase, as the club attempts to make the first Vase run a memorable one.
Stay tuned to our Twitter page for news on Monday’s first round draw!